4 posts categorized "Dashboards"

07/07/2011

Key Steps to Achieve Accurate Resource Utilization Reporting in Your Project Management Software Tool: Part 4

IStock_000006399293X_web This is another post in a discussion on how to achieve accurate resource utilization reporting, and thus good resource management, in your project management software tool.

In part 1, we discussed the key of capturing all of the work to be performed by your resources (people for the purposes of this series).

In part 2, we discussed the key of accurately capturing when the work will be performed.

In part 3, we discussed the key of capturing the effort as opposed to strictly the duration of the work.

Now let's talk about capacity.  Capacity is a key measurement because it directly affects your resource utilization statistics.  Capacity is the amount of time that a person has (in reality) to do the work.  For example, they may work 8 -10 hours a day, but in reality they wear other hats and may only have 4 hours a day to do project work.  That is their capacity.

Why is this important?  Because you cannot accurately decipher and make decisions from your resource statistics without it.  You can see how much work has been allocated to them.  You can see when that work has been allocated.  But you do not know if that is too much work, not enough work, or the right amount of work.  For that insight, you have to know the resource's capacity.

Once you know the resource's capacity, then it is simple math to figure out key metrics such as their allocated utilization (the work that has been allocated divided by their capacity) or their availability (their capacity minus the work that has been allocated).

In order to accurately figure out a person's capacity, you need to include the following factors:

  • Non-project activities: how much time does the person need each day to work on non-project activities, such as meetings, administrative activities, and while we don't like to admit it social conversations and breaks.
  • Vacation: a person's capacity is 0 if they are not there.  Forgetting to factor in vacation can ruin your resource picture at a critical point in the project.
  • Training: are there training requirements that the person must fulfill which affects their overall capacity?
  • Holidays: don't forget about company holidays.
  • Full time vs. part time: is the person working full-time or are they working part time?  Part time does not necessarily mean they are a part-time employee, but they may have multiple responsibilities with project work being only one of their responsibilities.

There are different strategies for capturing this.  You may factor all of these together for the entire year and create an average capacity per day.  Or you may create calendars that keep track of their specific capacity over specific time periods.

This may seem like a lot so let me make the point again about accuracy.  You do not necessarily have to track all of this to the nth degree.  It depends on how accurate you want the statistics to be when you do your reporting.  Which means that you need to decide what statistics and the level of accuracy you need in order for you to make decisions.  If you need accurate, detailed resource statistics, then there is no magic waving of the wand - you have to go through the effort of accurately collecting the base data.  And capacity is one of those pieces that you need to capture.

 





06/22/2011

5 Things You Are Not Doing (But Should Be) With Your Project Management Software Tools

IStock_000005289430_web Almost all of us have project management software tools that we use on a consistent basis.  It may be true project tool, a spreadsheet or even email, but it is still a software tool we use to help manage projects.  Here are 5 things that you are probably not doing right now with your project management software tools (but you should be).

1.  You are not looking at trends or historical data.

Most people are consumed with the present and the future.  Which tasks need to be done and which are coming up?  Trends are important.  If you do not look at trends or historical data, you will never get better.  Trends tell you tasks that are typically not completed on time, how much time items really take, who your resource choke points are, and even opportunities for process improvement.

2.  You have not matched technology and process together.

Technology only provides significant value-add when it is married together with a good process.  The technology should support that process.  Many people implement technology without a good process in mind.  In other words, they are focused on the features of the technology (aka "a way to schedule our projects") instead of being focused on implementing their process.  Or they have implemented technology without a documented process in the first place.

3.  You are not taking advantage of automation capability.

Even organizations that have sophisticated project management tools tend to not take advantage of the automation capabilities in the tool itself.  They still spend an enormous amount of time doing things manually that could be done in more of an automated fashion.  For example, you may be tracking your schedules in a tool, but you are also continuing to fill out documents (with duplicate information) and passing them along in your process.

4.  You do not have a meaningful dashboard.

Organizations may have a dashboard, but many organizations do not have a "meaningful" dashboard.  Either no one is looking at it or when they do look at it, it does not tell them what they need to know to make decisions.  This is because no one has spent the time to discover what information is truly meaningful or the data in the tool is not up to date.

5.  You do not have anyone overseeing the tool set.

Tools are like anything else.  If you do not spend any time overseeing the tool, it will not be used effectively.  That means that you need to have someone whose responsibility it is to make sure the tool (and the information in it) is clean and useful.

Are you guilty of any of these?  Most of us are not perfect in the use of our project management software tools.  Pick one and work on it and see what results you get.

 





06/03/2011

More Tips for Great Dashboards in your Project Management Software Tools

As a follow-up to my post from earlier this week on keys to an exceptional dashboard, I came across an article in CIO magazine by Chris Curran on "10 CIO Dashboard Tips."  It is geared towards an IT audience, but has several good tips nonetheless.  Here are a few that I liked:

Make sure you can actually collect the data you want to measure.

It does not good to show an earned value statistic, for example, if you do not have good work breakdown structures.

Begin by summarizing and analyzing data you already collect.

You may find some good analysis for your dashboard right off the bat.

Create a report to perform checks and balances on core dashboard data to increase credibility.

The companion report would provide some detail from which the dashboard data is derived.  This increases everyone's confidence in the dashboard data itself.

Have a printable version of the dashboard.

This way people can easily take the information with them.

 

You can read the full article with all the tips here.  Enjoy!  And have a great weekend!





06/01/2011

5 Keys to an Exceptional Dashboard in Your Project Management Software Tool

IStock_000003110526_web Dashboards are not created equal, even dashboards that display the same information.  One organization may have a vibrant dashboard that is used by everyone reliably.  Another organization may have a stagnant dashboard used by no one.  What makes the difference?  What are the keys to implementing a good dashboard?

Here are five keys to implementing a fantastic dashboard in your project management software tool:

1.  Keep it Simple

Some dashboards are overly complicated with too much information, or information that is too complex.  Keep your dashboard simple both in terms of the layout and the information presented.  Do not make it too complex.  Someone should be able to glean significant information from the dashboard in a matter of seconds.  If it takes a lot of effort and time for them to glean information, it will not be effective.

2.  Your Dashboard is Only as Good as the Data You Enter

It does not matter how fancy of a tool you have, how nice the reports are, or how fancy the presentation is if the underlying data is not solid.  In other words, all a dashboard does is present data that has been entered by people.  If people are not entering data correctly, or are not regularly keeping the data up to date, then your dashboard will be useless.

3.  Stay High-Level with the Ability to Drill-Down Into More Detail

It is easy to get lost in the minutiae of adding all of the significant detail to a dashboard.  That is not the purpose of a dashboard.  The purpose of a dashboard is to provide a high-level overview so that the viewer knows what action to take.  The viewer may then need the ability to drill-down into more detailed information, but this information should not all be displayed in the dashboard itself.  For example, it may be important to the viewer to know which projects need attention - perhaps a green / yellow / red indicator is attached to each project or portfolio.  However, the individual tasks, milestones, or issues that are causing the indication would not normally be displayed.  Those would be available upon the viewer drilling down further.  The exception to this would be a team member-level dashboard whose specific purpose is not to provide insight but to communicate a lot of detailed information, such as their current tasks.

4.  Only Present Actionable Information

There is a tendency to put information on the dashboard because it is neat and because you can show off the fact that you know the percentage of tasks within a portfolio that begin with the letter "M", started the Monday after a holiday, and the number of letters in the name is divisible by 2.  However, no one is going to use this information so there is no reason to display it and no reason to collect it.  The dashboard should be a tool where information is displayed that viewers will consider relevant, that they will actually look at, and that they can take action on.  Ask yourself whether the information in your dashboard meets this criteria.

5.  Don't Forget Training

 No matter how simple your dashboard may be, do not assume that people understand what they are seeing.  Sometimes there are nuances in language or procedures that are interpreted differently by different departments, people, and organizations.  Provide some training so that people know they are using the information in the dashboards appropriately and effectively.  I am not talking about formal training, but either holding periodic brown bag lunch sessions and / or providing a one-page cheat sheet on the information presented.

What other keys have you seen make a dashboard effective?

Happy Dashboarding!






 

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