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Using the Portfolio Dashboard to Uncover the Value of Projects

When your executives are wondering which projects are delivering the biggest bang for their investments, the tool you can turn to for delivering the data is Microsoft Office Project Portfolio Server 2007. A major component of Microsoft Office Enterprise Project Management (EPM), Portfolio Server integrates with Office Project Server 2007 to deliver visibility across projects in a consolidated manner. In a previous article I discussed the Builder and Optimizer modules for Microsoft Office Project Portfolio Server 2007. This article addresses the third module, the Portfolio Dashboard.

Portfolio Server 2007 allows you to define and automate four governance phases: Create, Select, Plan, and Manage. The Manage phase involves updating “optimized” projects with actual cost and schedule data and tracking progress using the Portfolio Dashboard.

The Dashboard module provides a customizable “scorecard” view of portfolio health. You enter tracking data and status reports into the Builder module, and it can be reviewed by stakeholders and portfolio managers in the Dashboard module.

To access the Portfolio Dashboard, click on the Dashboard circled in red shown in Figure 1.

The Portfolio Dashboard is similar to the My Scorecard view except the Dashboard illustrates project status. As can be seen in Figure 1, the 10 variables encompassed in the example are:

  • Overall
  • Financial
  • Resource
  • Schedule
  • Risk
  • Scope
  • IT Budget 2007
  • Bus Budget 2007
  • Ops Budget 2007
  • Benefits

Associated with each are green, yellow and red graphical indicators that provide status information about the projects.

Figure 1. The red circle shows you where to open the Dashboard.

Using the Portfolio Dashboard to Uncover the Value of Projects

The green, yellow and red graphical indicators can be configured by the system administrator based on the criteria determined by management. Figure 2 shows examples of the green, yellow, and red graphical indicator criteria. While many of the graphical indicators are based on statistical calculations, the Overall Status indicator is keyed in manually each month by the project manager.

Figure 2. Examples of graphical indicators on the Dashboard.

Using the Portfolio Dashboard to Uncover the Value of Projects

Figure 1 shows that the Focus Group Product Implementation project has red indicators for Overall Status, Financial and Schedule; yellow indicators for Resource and Risk; and green indicators for Scope. The red and yellow graphical indicators show that this project isn’t going well, and management may question whether to continue investing in it.

Clicking on the project takes the user to the Project Information tab shown in Figure 3. It’s advisable to select the relevant tabs in order to investigate why the graphical indicators are red or yellow for the particular project. While the Project Information and other tabs provide valuable information about the project, it’s important to view the Status tab in order to see explanations of the red and yellow graphical indicators. To access the Status tab, click on the diamond in the upper right corner indicated with a blue arrow and then select Status indicated with a red arrow.

Figure 3. The Project Information tab allows you to drill down on a project.

Using the Portfolio Dashboard to Uncover the Value of Projects

Figure 4 shows the Status tab for the Focus Group Product Implementation project. As I mentioned above, the Overall Health Description (circled in red) was keyed in by the project manager and provides information on the cause for the red indicator.

Figure 4. Snapshot Reports show the status indicators for each aspect of a given project.

Using the Portfolio Dashboard to Uncover the Value of Projects

It’s also possible to review the status of the other variables by simply clicking on the appropriate indicator. For example, the Financial Actual next to Overall Status is also red, based on the formula shown in Figure 2. By clicking on the Financial Actual indicator, Figure 5 appears with an Indicator comment provided by the project manager explaining why Financial Actual is red.

Figure 5. Indicator comments allow you as project manager to explain the causes for a given status.

Using the Portfolio Dashboard to Uncover the Value of Projects

The Thresholds button in Figure 4 shows examples of the green, yellow and red graphical indicator criteria indicated in Figure 2 above.

Figure 6 shows monthly Snapshot Reports of the project status from January through May, 2006. As I mentioned in a previous article, “Managing Reports with Microsoft Office Project Portfolio Server 2007,” Snapshot Reports are available on the Project Status, Cost Tracking and Resource Tracking Tabs. The purpose of the Snapshot Reports is to be able to compare on a monthly basis the project status, cost tracking or resource tracking progress for a project.

Figure 6. The Snapshot Report for a project over a five-month period.

Using the Portfolio Dashboard to Uncover the Value of Projects

To create, delete, or lock Snapshot Reports open the Project Status tab and click the New Snapshot or Delete Snapshot circled in red in the upper right corner. Lock prevents a Snapshot Report from being edited.

When creating a new Snapshot Report, keep the default names or rename the Archive Report or the New Report as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7. Once you’ve named a new Snapshot Report, you can open it in View instead of Edit.

Using the Portfolio Dashboard to Uncover the Value of Projects

Once the Snapshot Report has been created, open the project in View instead of Edit, go the Status Tab and use the pull down menu shown in Figure 6 to see previous Snapshot Reports.

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