Setting up a Project SharePoint Site Part 6: Project Status Dashboard

Executing Monitoring and Controlling

Assembling a Project Status Dashboard is a powerful way to use the capabilities of SharePoint. Instead of having to create a weekly status report manually, SharePoint can do it for you using information you are already updating on the site. This can be a big time saver. The page is updated in real-time as you update the component parts that are shown on the page so the sponsor or other stakeholders can always see the latest status instead of having to wait for you to send it.

Another advantage of the dashboard is that it acts like “mission control” for the project manager. I would always start my day on the dashboard to help determine on what I need to focus. In one place you have your upcoming milestones, high impact issues and risks, and action items due in the next 7 days. You can drill into the details of each item right from that page. This beats looking for each piece individually in documents on a network drive.

I use the SharePoint “web part page” to set up the Project Status Dashboard. A “web part page” allows you to assemble a page from existing lists, libraries and other SharePoint components you have already built on your project site. I like the 3-column format for fitting all of the important information.

Here is the information I include and how I format it:

First Row, across all 3 columns:

The Project Information Announcement – contains basic project information such as the name, number, description and benefits, sponsor name and project manager name.

Second Row, across all 3 columns:

The Project Status Announcement – contains a few sentences from the Project Manager and Lead Business Analyst on the state of the project. I like to update this weekly or whenever an important milestone is reached.

Third Row:

Column 1: The Project Health Scorecard

Column 2: A view on the Issues list containing only high impact Issues, and under that, a view on the risks list containing only high exposure Risks

Column 3: Upcoming Milestones (current month and next month)

Fourth Row, across all columns:

Time Off Calendar for key project team members and stakeholders

Fifth and Sixth Rows, across all columns:

Action Items Due in the next 7 Days – I use a view over the Action Items List.

Action Items Completed in the last 7 Days – I use a view over the Action Items List.

Seventh Row, across all columns:

Key project documents from the document libraries.

You may need to educate and train your users to come here first for information but it will be well worth your time to do so.

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The Project Status Update Meeting

Executing Monitoring and Controlling

One way to monitor and track the status of your project is to conduct a recurring project status update meeting. For most projects, weekly will suffice. Attendees should be the work stream leaders and key contributors. This meetings should be structured and have a standard framework that the attendees know in advance so they may prepare. Like all meetings, they also should be efficient. Stay on topic and finish early if possible.

Here is a recommended framework:

  • Accountability:Review the task commitments planned for the prior week. For the ones not completed, get to the root cause of why. If there were obstacles preventing completion, work to remove them. That is an important part of the PM’s job. If the task is taking longer than planned, discuss with the team options for getting back on track.
  • Commitment: Plan the tasks for the upcoming week. Assign owners and get commitment dates directly from the task owners.
  • Awareness: Review the major milestones for the current month and the upcoming month. Make sure everyone has their “eyes on the prize”.
  • Issues: Review the high impact issues. Determine how the team can collectively help resolve them.
  • Risks: Review the high exposure risks. Determine if the probability or impact as changed. Ensure that the risk mitigation plan is being followed and the risk contingency plan is still sound. Ask if any new risks have arisen.
  • Availability: Review planned time off for key team members. Make the sure the schedule accounts for this time and there is a backup plan.
  • Open Forum: Ask each attendee if there is anything else they wish to discuss. It should be a topic of general interest to all or most of the attendees. This is important to make the team members know they have a voice in the project.

For larger projects I create a form for each work stream with the structure above. I update it at the status meeting and distribute it to the work stream owners at the end of the meeting. The work stream owners update the form by end of day two business days prior to the next meeting and send it to me. This has worked very well and I highly recommend this process.

Project Status Reporting

Executing Monitoring and Controlling

Your Project Status Reports, like all communications, will vary with the audience. For large projects, your two main audiences are the Executive Steering Committee and the Project Sponsors. All status reports should have heading level information such as the Project Name and Number, a brief description, and the date and author(s) of the report.

Listed here are the elements I recommend including on the status report, with the designation “ESC” if you should include this item on the Executive Steering Committee report and “PS” for inclusion on the Project Sponsor report.

  • The Project Health Scorecard (defined in the posts preceding this one) – ESC, PS
  • High Impact Issues – ESC, PS
  • High Exposure Risks – ESC, PS
  • Upcoming Major Milestones and dates – ESC, PS
  • Key activities completed since the last report – PS
  • Upcoming key activities – PS
  • Upcoming dates where key project team members have a planned absence – PS
  • Call-outs (comments of significance you want to include in the report but don’t fit into the other categories) – ESC, PS

You can use MS Word, Excel or PowerPoint to format the report. Make it pleasing to the eye and uncluttered. In a future post, I will show you how to design a status report page on your SharePoint Project Site.

Setting up a SharePoint Project Site Part 6 – The Project Status Dashboard

Executing Monitoring and Controlling

Assembling a Project Status Dashboard is a powerful way to use the capabilities of SharePoint. Instead of having to create a weekly status report manually, SharePoint can do it for you using information you are already updating on the site. This can be a big time saver. The page is updated in real-time as you update the component parts that are shown on the page so the sponsor or other stakeholders can always see the latest status instead of having to wait for you to send it.

Another advantage of the dashboard is that it acts like “mission control” for the project manager. I would always start my day on the dashboard to help determine on what I need to focus. In one place you have your upcoming milestones, high impact issues and risks, and action items due in the next 7 days. You can drill into the details of each item right from that page. This beats looking for each piece individually in documents on a network drive.

I use the SharePoint “web part page” to set up the Project Status Dashboard. A “web part page” allows you to assemble a page from existing lists, libraries and other SharePoint components you have already built on your project site. I like the 3-column format for fitting all of the important information.

Here is the information I include and how I format it:

First Row, across all 3 columns:

The Project Information Announcement – contains basic project information such as the name, number, description and benefits, sponsor name and project manager name.

Second Row, across all 3 columns:

The Project Status Announcement – contains a few sentences from the Project Manager and Lead Business Analyst on the state of the project. I like to update this weekly or whenever an important milestone is reached.

Third Row:

Column 1: The Project Health Scorecard

Column 2: A view on the Issues list containing only high impact Issues, and under that, a view on the risks list containing only high exposure Risks

Column 3: Upcoming Milestones (current month and next month)

Fourth Row, across all columns:

Time Off Calendar for key project team members and stakeholders

Fifth and Sixth Rows, across all columns:

Action Items Due in the next 7 Days – I use a view over the Action Items List.

Action Items Completed in the last 7 Days – I use a view over the Action Items List.

Seventh Row, across all columns:

Key project documents from the document libraries.

You may need to educate and train your users to come here first for information but it will be well worth your time to do so.

The Project Status Update Meeting

Executing Monitoring and Controlling

One way to monitor and track the status of your project is to conduct a recurring project status update meeting. For most projects, weekly will suffice. Attendees should be the work stream leaders and key contributors. This meetings should be structured and have a standard framework that the attendees know in advance so they may prepare. Like all meetings, they also should be efficient. Stay on topic and finish early if possible.

Here is a recommended framework:

  • Accountability:Review the task commitments planned for the prior week. For the ones not completed, get to the root cause of why. If there were obstacles preventing completion, work to remove them. That is an important part of the PM’s job. If the task is taking longer than planned, discuss with the team options for getting back on track.
  • Commitment: Plan the tasks for the upcoming week. Assign owners and get commitment dates directly from the task owners.
  • Awareness: Review the major milestones for the current month and the upcoming month. Make sure everyone has their “eyes on the prize”.
  • Issues: Review the high impact issues. Determine how the team can collectively help resolve them.
  • Risks: Review the high exposure risks. Determine if the probability or impact as changed. Ensure that the risk mitigation plan is being followed and the risk contingency plan is still sound. Ask if any new risks have arisen.
  • Availability: Review planned time off for key team members. Make the sure the schedule accounts for this time and there is a backup plan.
  • Open Forum: Ask each attendee if there is anything else they wish to discuss. It should be a topic of general interest to all or most of the attendees. This is important to make the team members know they have a voice in the project.

For larger projects I create a form for each work stream with the structure above. I update it at the status meeting and distribute it to the work stream owners at the end of the meeting. The work stream owners update the form by end of day two business days prior to the next meeting and send it to me. This has worked very well and I highly recommend this process.

Project Status Reporting

Executing Monitoring and Controlling

Your Project Status Reports, like all communications, will vary with the audience. For large projects, your two main audiences are the Executive Steering Committee and the Project Sponsors. All status reports should have heading level information such as the Project Name and Number, a brief description, and the date and author(s) of the report.

Listed here are the elements I recommend including on the status report, with the designation “ESC” if you should include this item on the Executive Steering Committee report and “PS” for inclusion on the Project Sponsor report.

  • The Project Health Scorecard (defined in the posts preceding this one) – ESC, PS
  • High Impact Issues – ESC, PS
  • High Exposure Risks – ESC, PS
  • Upcoming Major Milestones and dates – ESC, PS
  • Key activities completed since the last report – PS
  • Upcoming key activities – PS
  • Upcoming dates where key project team members have a planned absence – PS
  • Call-outs (comments of significance you want to include in the report but don’t fit into the other categories) – ESC, PS

You can use MS Word, Excel or PowerPoint to format the report. Make it pleasing to the eye and uncluttered. In a future post, I will show you how to design a status report page on your SharePoint Project Site.

The Project Health Scorecard: Overview

Executing Monitoring and Controlling

Some years ago, a company I worked for invested in improving our Project Management practices. They engaged with IBM professional services for 6 months to guide and mentor the in-house Project Managers. The first thing the IBM consultants did was establish a baseline that would be used to measure success at the end of the engagement. This baseline was “The Project Health Scorecard” (aka “PHS”). The PHS was measured at the beginning and end of the engagement as evidence of progress in our project management practices. I am a big fan of this concept and now use it on my project dashboard for all of my projects.

The PHS is an “early warning system” for potential project trouble. In that sense it is a child of Risk Management. Because of its condense and concise nature, it is appropriate for use in Project dashboards as well Project Portfolio dashboards, where you can see the health of all active projects at once. I typically update the PHS weekly in the regular project status meetings.

The PHS contains six key measures of project management best practices. Each measure is given a status value of “green”, “yellow” or “red”. I will present each of these measures along with the guidance for status values in a six part series as follows:

  • Part 1: Schedule
  • Part 2: Budget
  • Part 3: Scope
  • Part 4: Value
  • Part 5: Resources
  • Part 6: Risk