How to Create Your Project Dashboard

A “Project Dashboard” is a tool that provides you with a graphical view of the progress of your project, so that you can see at a glance whether you’re on track. It’s basically a set of Charts that gives you the current status of the project at any time. You can create the Charts manually in Excel, or use smart software that does it for you.

To create your own Project Dashboard in Excel, take these steps:

Step 1: Get a Pen and Paper
Sit down with a pen and paper and list the things that determine whether your project will be a success. It might be that your project is delivered on time and under budget. Or that tasks are completed when expected and that your resources are perfectly allocated. It’s these types of things that your Dashboard needs to track, every day.

Step 2: Gather your Data
Then collate all of the data that is needed to measure the success criteria you’ve defined above. The data may exist in Project Plans, Excel spreadsheets or Word documents. It might exist also in Timesheets, Expense Forms and risk / issue / change logs. Remember, the quality of your Dashboard depends on the quality of the data that goes into it.

Step 3: Sift, Sort and File
You then need to sift through your data, sort it into groups and file it all in one place, so that you have the right information needed, to populate your dashboard.

Step 4: Create your Dashboard
You’re now ready to build your project dashboard. Enter all of your data into a single spreadsheet and create the following charts to create your Project Dashboard:

Time Chart: This chart tells you whether you’re on schedule. You need to list your tasks and identify the planned versus actual percent complete for each task. Summarize this data and you’ll find out whether you’re ahead or behind schedule.

Cost Chart: To find out if you’re under or over budget, you need to add up all of your project costs and compare them to your budget. To do this, calculate the cost of your resources, as well as equipment, materials and any expense forms completed by staff.

Tasks: You need to know the percentage of tasks that have been completed to date, so that you can get a feel for how much of the project has been done. List all of your tasks and identify whether they have been “Not Started”, are “In Progress” or “Complete”.

Resource: It’s important to know whether your resources are over-worked. To calculate this, list all of your resources and work out how many calendar days they have scheduled for the project. Then identify from your task list, how many days they have been assigned to tasks. If they have been assigned to tasks for more days than they have available in their calendar, then they are “over-resourced” and you need to reduce their workload.

Risks: Every project involves risks, issues and changes. Make sure these are documented and identify whether each is low, medium or high impact. Then sum them up to find out how “at risk” your project is.

Step 5: Review it Daily
A fully populated dashboard will tell you at a moments glance, whether you’re on track. You need to populate your dashboard each and every day, to have the best chance of success.

If you don’t want to create your dashboard manually as it’s too complex or time consuming, then use ProjectManager.com as it comes with a complete Project Dashboard online.