Give Me More Dashboards

Project managers are notoriously too detailed. We need to learn how to communicate succinctly and clearly and stop rambling on.

Today I continue my summer series based on Brad Egeland’s ( article that appeared in early July entitled ‘11 Reasons Why My Project Manager Is Better Than Yours’.   

Last week’s post was Rely On Experience, Not Certification. 

This week we highlight Brad’s #2 reason that his PMs are better than yours…  the dashboards.

Brad says “Dashboards are a great way to give lots of high-level information at a glance and will satisfy most execs curious natures and need-to-knows about your project in seconds. I have PM’s load the front of their weekly status reports with green-yellow-red type dashboard reports for a fast update needed by executives in the company as well as the senior leaders that the project sponsor on the customer side will need to be accountable to.”

The executive summary in the form of a dashboard.  A great suggestion.  We all need to learn how to get the message across in fewer words and in fact here is a way to get the message across with almost no words.

I’ve often suggested that if you are given 30 minutes to present to the board or executive committee or a major stakeholder you should take no more than 5 to 10 minutes and then open it up to questions.  At the level of your audience, everyone’s needs or interests could be very different. Why waste some people’s times with information that not everyone needs?

As well, why waste time going over information that is already known?  Cut to the quick, give them a high-level picture or dashboard and allow them to do drill down as required.

I was master of ceremonies at a PMI conference this past year in Michigan and moderated a panel discussion consisting of four executives. In front of an audience of 600+ project managers, the obvious question we offered them was “what don’t you like about the way your project managers work?”  The answer, unfortunately, was predictable. They emphatically stated that we were long-winded and provided way too much information upon request.  They pleaded that we learn the power of the executive summary and the art of brevity.

I’m adding the dashboard to that request. Clear, concise and to the point.

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1 thought on “Give Me More Dashboards”

  1. Agree that dashboards help the executives digest a high level status of the portfolio. After many years as a PM, however, I am now communicating that all projects are red, until the day they are completed. While this is terrifying to PMs and executives I believe it accurately represents the risks and uncertainty that exists in many companies. Any thoughts on why we pretend that our projects meet the iron rectangle of scope, cost, time, & quality right up until they are late?

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