Dashboards became very famous in the recent years. It all begun with Balanced Scorecards in the second half of the nineties and the Business Intelligence Supplier developed very fancy and powerful solutions to publish all sorts of data in almost real-time. So it is not a big surprise that portfolio management tools are as well connected such dashboard systems to show the actual composition and progress of the portfolios.
Often numeric information is show such as
- Number of projects (in various stages)
- Financial spending versus budget
Or status information as Red Yellow Green indication
The dashboards are working automatically and pull the data out of the ppm tool database. The problem is that the data is usually not verified and wrong data is published almost real-time to the organization. The danger of wrong data is in my opinion not rated high enough because wrong data is not only showing something that is not true it also decreases the confidence into the portfolio and project management.
Hence a dashboard cannot take away the need of analyzing and commenting the data and this needs to be done prior the publishing by the portfolio manager. This is what is called to run a managed Dashboard.
For example a global project in the final deployment phase some of the bills didn’t reached the centrally managed project even the goods were purchased and booked. From a project view the project is progressing as planned but from a financial view the project is underspending and not making the numbers as forecasted hence the financial status would appear red, even this is not reflecting the reality. On an automated dashboard where the figures are just published as is the project status would be misinterpreted by most of the users as they do not know the facts.
On a managed dashboard the project would still be shown having a financial red status but this would be commented so it is obvious for everyone.
Automated dashboards look good and don’t need much maintenance whereas a managed dashboard needs the review and inputs from the portfolio manager. But still it is worth the effort because the clarification of misunderstandings also absorbs a lot of energy. As a side effect it puts the portfolio manager in a position where he/she is on top of the data and can give the right answer.