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Dashboard Best Practices

Many dashboards are built, but how many dashboard projects are really truly successful?

Here are some Dashboard Project Best Practices from the article “How a Dashboard Transformed Technical Leads“.

It’s a very thoughtful writeup about the success of a dashboarding project.

Here’s an excerpt:

The dashboard enables the Project Review Team in this organization to help PMs to focus on the six best practices for any projects, the same practices used in developing the dashboard itself:

  • BEST PRACTICE #1: get stakeholder buy-in with prototypes, and develop specific strategies to address key concerns early.
  • BEST PRACTICE #2: develop iteratively, delivering value-added functionality quickly, and get feedback promptly.
  • BEST PRACTICE #3: prioritize requirements where the priority order is the implementation order. Perform change control for non-trivial requirement changes and enhancements.
  • BEST PRACTICE #4: track progress and take early corrective actions. Resolve issues, external dependencies, and risks to closure, escalating proactively.
  • BEST PRACTICE #5: continuously verify quality and perform architecture, design and code reviews as appropriate.
  • BEST PRACTICE #6: manage configuration items throughout the project lifecycle.

And here were the very impressive project “wins”:

  • Weekly enterprise status reporting now took a couple of hours instead of days.
  • The dashboard project created wins for stakeholders across the organization:
  • Win #1: Every project is now managed using at least six (6) standard, regularly updated artifacts: project charter, schedule, risk/issue log, staffing plan, financials, and weekly status report.
  • Win #2: Project managers are able to update their project status within minutes on a weekly basis. The dashboard scrapes the six standard project artifacts to provide status updates on the dashboard.
  • Win #3: There is transparency, consistency, and predictability for projects across the organization. Visibility encourages PMs to pay attention to sound project management practices.
  • Win #4: There has been no format change for weekly status reports for 2 years. The dashboard provides a multi-layered and component view of project status. The summary dashboard offers an at-a-glance view of schedule, budget, and risk indicators for new development and sustaining projects and non-software initiatives. Each project dashboard provides details about key planned vs actual releases, milestones, deliverables, accomplishment this week vs goals for next week, and key risks/issues and dependencies. Readers who are interested in additional drill-downs can view the full project schedule and risk log, look at detailed project metrics, staff and task order information.
  • Win #5: There is now a single repository of project information with real-time updates for management reporting and informed decision-making.
  • Win #6: The development of the dashboard minimizes custom coding by leveraging the out-of-the-box features of SharePoint. This dashboard system is fully documented from a user’s and operational point of view, and is highly maintainable.
  • Win #7: The dashboard was created at a fraction of the typical cost of purchasing, implementing, and rolling out a comprehensive project portfolio management tool. The total cost of ownership was between 1/5 to 1/10th of the estimated cost quoted by market tool vendors. Because the dashboard took advantage of existing systems and tools in Alpha Corp, its adoption was relatively painless and quick.
  • Win #8: Best of all, the Alpha Corp dashboard enables PMs to focus their time and energy on what really matters: early delivery of low-risk software to their stakeholders, while offering transparency on the status of their weekly challenges, accomplishments, and goals for the next week.

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