How can one contextualize what a project management dashboard or PM dashboard is? One could liken it to Captain Kirk’s all-knowing computer on Star Trek — if this is what you’ve always wanted, a project management dashboard is made for you.
A project dashboard is essentially a central data dashboard designed to display all of your key metrics related to specific projects. A project management dashboard helps project teams track projects by showing high-level metrics for project progress as well as project task status, budget, and anything else that offers real-time insight into a project.
Whether you’re fighting Klingons or shipping software, you can’t beat information and a dashboard tool.
In this article, you’ll learn why every team needs project management dashboard software in 2023 and how to create your own.
What is a project management dashboard?A project management dashboard is a single page that tells you at a glance how all of your projects are doing.
Whatever you use it for, whether it’s a task management dashboard or a project status dashboard, you’ll want a dynamic dashboard that can pivot with you and your teams.
Some specific features you might see on your project management dashboard include:
- Tasks — with estimated completion time and ability to track time
- Client requirements
- Actual costs of each task
- Timelines with milestones and clear deliverables
- Status of tests, reviews, or outside certifications
A high-quality project dashboard will be useful for real-time updates and analyzing project data on completed or canceled projects, which you can then apply to all future projects.
The best project dashboard examples are easy to read, simple to customize for your business, and can automatically update in real-time — saving you precious time.
How do you make a project management dashboard work for you?
Follow these four steps:
1. Determine your KPIs
Choose your KPIs — the metrics that tell you whether your project is on the track.
- Deliverables completed per week
- Positive client reviews received each month
- Months you remained within budget
2. Identify your data sources
For each KPI, identify the data source, like a spreadsheet, customer relationship manager, project management software, or another app.
3. Decide how to present each KPI
Next, decide how to present each metric visually. If the KPI is an absolute number, like weekly expenses, a line graph could work. If it’s a comparison, like customers gained vs. lost, try a bar graph. For timelines longer than a week, try a Gantt chart.
The important thing is that anyone can look at the visual representation of your data and understand the metrics right away.
4. Organize your data
Now, all you need to do is arrange your visuals, link your sources, and behold: you’ve got a project dashboard.
That might seem daunting, but there are plenty of apps designed to help you — even if you aren’t a technical person. For instance, monday.com has a wide selection of templates you can use to harness the power of a project management dashboard.
For example, our project tracker template provides a great base to get you up and running:
What should you include in a project management dashboard?
As long as your project management dashboard includes representations of live KPI updates, the only requirements it needs to meet are yours.
Here are a few suggestions…
A long-term plan for what features will be added to a software product. It also shows who is in charge of each feature and the steps needed to finish. The monday.com product roadmap template is a good, user-friendly model.
A widget for the day-to-day. A good daily task tracker can show you what every member of your team is working on at any point in time.
This can be a bar or line graph that shows your resource allocation for the project, and whether it’s sustainable. You can compare your actual spend to your projected budget, and adjust accordingly.
A workload widget — like the one we’ve got on monday.com — focuses on allocating your human resources. With one of these, you can ensure nobody on your team is ever overworked or underworked.
There’s one more thing you need in a project dashboard, and it’s something people often forget.
Remember, a project dashboard is most helpful when your entire team buys into it. We’ve built all our templates at monday.com so that team members won’t just use them, but will enjoy using them.
What is the benefit of a dashboard?
Project management tools like dashboards give you a centralized location for all of the important KPIs surrounding your project and the ability to scan them. Let’s look at an example.
A project manager makes a lot of decisions each day.
- Who should take ownership of each task?
- When should that work be done?
- What needs to be offloaded?
- Who’s being underutilized?
- Where are we with our budget, and what’s costing too much money?
- How can we allocate our budget?
The monday.com process management template shows a ton of information at a glance:
In this screenshot alone, you can see:
- All the active projects
- Project status
- Project owners
- Task priority
With one look, you know exactly where your attention is needed and can control what you want to see. For example, is a campaign lagging because the marketing agency is overworked? You can then use this information to create a dashboard like this one to see it all.
How do I create a project dashboard in Excel?
It’s true that you can use Excel to build dashboards that update automatically. If you link a chart to a data set, changing the data causes the chart to update too.
All you need to do is add your data to a column, insert a chart using the toolbar, then highlight the cells with the data you want to display. Once the chart’s in place, it will update to reflect changes to the linked data.
The catch: Excel has a steep learning curve, and we’re not convinced it’s always worth it.
This isn’t just us talking ourselves up here (although, unsurprisingly, we prefer monday.com templates to Excel spreadsheets). Excel is a powerful tool, but it’s not optimized for project dashboards.
Dedicated project management software is more appealing, more fun to use, and more likely to keep your team on the same page. Never forget the three most important things about a project dashboard:
- Relevant KPIs,
- automatic updates, and
- the ability to communicate lots of information instantly.
Those goals can be deceptively hard to reach. It’s always better to use software with a dedicated dashboard template that doesn’t require heavy lifting.
Create a powerful project management dashboard with monday.com
Now that you’ve learned how to create an effective project management dashboard, you’re probably excited to get started on your own.
We totally get it. Having your data ducks in a row is an amazing feeling! No matter what kind of workplace you’re in, monday.com has a customizable project dashboard template for you. Try our task management software or weekly to-do list templates to start. You’ll be able to bring the power of project management dashboards to your team in a way that’s accessible and simple for everyone to understand.