written by
5000fish Team

The Ultimate Guide To Project Dashboards

BI Problems and Solutions 8 min read
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Project management is made up of lots of moving parts. You need to juggle deadlines, people, data, and keep everyone on track. Back in ancient times (that is, the early aughts) people scribbled to-do lists on legal pads. They might have included some graphs, circled parts that were of special importance, and maybe some arrows to tie parts of the project together. A project dashboard is like the digitized version of that, only better.

What is a project dashboard?

You can set up a project dashboard to keep track of any metrics or KPI’s (key performance indicator) that you want. Project dashboards give you a visual, easy-to-read chart so you can see where you are at any time. They update in real time, so you’ll know exactly what’s been completed and what you still have to do. Anything you need in order to monitor the progress and the success of a project you can track on a project dashboard.

What are the benefits of a project dashboard?

Just some of the many benefits of using a project dashboard include:

  • Visual representation of progress
  • Increased efficiency
  • The whole team can view the dashboard, so everyone knows what’s going on
  • Updates in real time, so no data lags
  • Better forecasting—you can see exactly how far you are from completion
  • Keep better track of client expectations or feedback
  • Easy to share with executives and external stakeholders
  • Able to be displayed on multiple devices—computers, phones, or tablets for instant access

Competition in business has only grown more intense, and only the leanest, most efficient companies survive. A buzz word that business executives like to use is agile. A project dashboard makes your company more agile, in that it’s better positioned to respond to changes in the market.

As we saw in 2020, life can throw curve balls at any time. Many employees work from home now. A project dashboard makes it easy to communicate with team members who are not on site. It can help them keep track of everything they need to know without getting bombarded with emails. Eighty-three percent of remote employees feel burnt out by the high volume of emails they receive. You can reduce their stress and increase their productivity at the same time with an effective dashboard.

What should you measure in a project dashboard?

The best project dashboards are simple, clear, and keep track of the important parts of your project. First, figure out what KPI’s you need to measure. You want to isolate the key data points: if there too much information on your dashboard, it won’t be easy to read or as efficient.

You might want to consider measuring some form of the following:

  1. Timing: When is the project due and how far away are you? You can track this by percentage, by charts, graphs or in calendar form. Meeting project deadlines is the main focus for 46% of team leaders.
  2. Budget: You can track how much you’re spending, cost-performance analysis, line items, etc. Almost 27% of projects go over budget.
  3. Quality: Customer feedback, customer satisfaction, test results, employee feedback, number of errors
  4. Effectiveness: Are you making progress towards your goals? Project milestones, bugs, changed requests

You’ll also need to figure out how you want to track KPI’s: graphs, charts, bulleted lists, colored dots. A lot of this comes down to personal preference, but make sure you don’t crowd your dashboard with a gazillion points of data. There should be a good amount of white space so that it’s easy to read.

Sometimes people in project management refer to something called Gantt chart. A Gantt chart is a bar chart that provides a visual representation of tasks on a project. On the left hand side is a list of activities and the top has a timeline. A Gantt chart can be part of your project management software, and part of your dashboard. It makes it easy to see progress towards tasks.

If the project is complex, or if there are stakeholders involved, you could have more than one dashboard, one for executives and one for the team members. Executives usually focus more on results and the bottom line and they don’t need to know every little thing, such as that Mary won’t be available Tuesday due to a doctor’s appointment.

Different types of project dashboards

Since project dashboards are flexible, you can use them for any type of project.

Marketing agency dashboards

Marketing agencies can a project dashboard to track things like the planning process, timelines, and the budget. Marketing agencies usually have multiple people working on different campaigns, and a project dashboard can keep track of all the moving parts. Also, a dashboard is a great way to show clients the results of marketing efforts.

Business project management dashboards

A dashboard will make it easy to keep track of finances, revenue, and fund-raising. You can also track employee workload, to ensure tasks don’t overlap. Also, if you update tasks in real time, there may a form of peer pressure at work to keep members motivated (so the dashboard doesn’t call them out for falling behind).

DevOps project management dashboards

DevOps moves quickly, and a project dashboard can help with application performance, testing, detecting bugs and other issues. It can help keep team members up-to-speed, so work doesn’t overlap since development and operations are working together. A dashboard can make sure no one steps on anyone’s toes.

IT project management dashboards

The IT department project dashboard can help with implementation of new software, new operational applications, and creating new IT solutions to common problems within an organization. It can also keep track of costs: 1in 6 IT projects go over budget by 200%.

How to build a great project management dashboard?

The most important thing about a project dashboard is that it helps you and your company meet its goals. Whatever you find necessary and important are what you should measure.

That said, take some time to figure out what KPIs you want to measure. Once you’ve settled on those, it’s a matter of design. A good dashboard has a number of elements:

1. Visual

A good project dashboard should be easy to read. Make sure its visually friendly, and that data is presented in such a way that even the most obtuse employee knows what’s going on.

A good use of color is important. Often, green highlights products growth and red means a drop, either in productivity or in profits. Keep in mind that some people may be reading the dashboard on their phones, so it needs to be clear, colorful, and have only the most relevant data.

2. Relevance

Make sure you track performance metrics that are relevant to the team. There may be some dissension as to what is a KPI. You can have different dashboards for different departments, and you can offer a bit of customizability to team members. If a team member wants to know progress per day and someone else wants to know progress per week, a good dashboard should be able to accommodate that.

3. Layout

Larger elements should reflect the most important metrics. Your most important KPI should be the largest thing on the board.

People generally read from left to right. Therefore, put the most important elements on the left, and lesser important statistics on the right. They also tend to read top to bottom, so keep that in mind as well.

Lucky for you, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are lots of templates for project dashboards that you can find online. Use Pinterest for inspiration—they group together ideas based on whatever you enter into the search engine. There are also project management tools you could consider. The important thing is that your dashboard is useful and helps people stay on track.

How can DashboardFox help?

Navigating the intricate landscape of project management can be challenging, but with tools like DashboardFox, you can simplify your processes and gain valuable insights through comprehensive dashboards. DashboardFox is a robust tool for dashboard and data visualization, designed to take the complexity out of project management. It allows you to create intuitive, real-time, and dynamic dashboards that give you an overview of your project’s KPIs at a glance.

Our name says it front and center -- DashboardFox. That means we can be of great help.

With DashboardFox, you can monitor your projects in an easy-to-understand visual format. It offers a plethora of customizable options, enabling you to tailor each dashboard according to the unique needs of your business or project.

Whether you're needing to track progress towards goals, monitor budgets, or gauge team performance and productivity, DashboardFox has you covered. Its layout and design are optimized for clarity and readability, even on mobile devices, ensuring all team members can access important data, anytime, anywhere.

Being agile and responsive to changes is a crucial aspect of project management. DashboardFox shines in this arena by providing real-time updates, enabling your team to rapidly respond to any changes or challenges. Its dashboards are not only useful for internal purposes, but are also excellent tools for conveying progress and results to stakeholders or clients.

Regardless of whether you're managing marketing campaigns, overseeing IT projects, or coordinating a DevOps team, DashboardFox offers versatile dashboards which can be adapted to any project. With features like real-time updates, customization, and the ability to handle large datasets, it has never been easier to stay on top of your project management tasks.

DashboardFox is not just a tool, but a partner in your journey towards more efficient and effective project management. It gives you the power to control, understand, and present your data the way you want.

Don't just take our word for it. Experience the power of DashboardFox for yourself. We invite you to book a meetin with our team or take advantage of our free live demo sessions. Get a firsthand experience of how DashboardFox can revolutionize your project management strategy and help you steer your projects to success with confidence and ease.

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