The most dreaded question in project management is the simplest one. “So, how are we doing?”
Sometimes it’s a stakeholder asking. Sometimes its management. Sometimes it’s you, the project manager, asking yourself.
Answering “How are we doing?” is not a simple preposition. Most of the time, people go running for the data. We all know what it’s like to prepare for a management update meeting! Gantt charts are feverishly updated, progress reports are sought from every team member, late night PowerPoint slides are thrown together…and inevitably, someone then remembers there’s a crucial update from one person that was forgotten, and round and round that story goes. Until finally, you have all the data at your fingertips, and you can answer the question.
Why is it so difficult to answer, “How are we doing?” Because the data is never in the same place. Answering the question requires gathering data from different places, with different contexts, and putting it all together.
Where, Oh Where, Has My Data Gone
There are two main reasons why there isn’t a central point for project data. One is a mechanical problem: the tools used aren’t able to hold all that information. If your Gantt chart is on an Excel file, your team can’t enter their progress updates straight into the project plan. The tool doesn’t have the functionality, plain and simple – it is static, instead of dynamic, and it cannot keep up with project progress without constant manual updating.
The second reason is more technical: the project plan doesn’t always generate the data you need to analyze how the project is doing at any given time. Project managers often keep some information in their brains, instead of on paper. Or team leads within a project team create endless lists of tasks and can provide an update. Or the plan’s KPIs and/or milestones aren’t accurate, leading team members to track the wrong metrics. Perhaps it is just a matter of a remote team forgetting to update you on their progress. Whatever the particular cause, the data needed isn’t being generated by the regular operational phase of the project.
Put these two issues together, and it is not hard to understand why most projects lack a centralized data structure.
Same Place, Same Point, Same Picture
Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Planning and managing a project with Proggio gives you one centralized data source for the entire project.
Proggio gathers all the information into one workspace. Team members, project managers, and senior management all interact with the same data source from different angles – and that means all updates are instantly reflected everywhere else.
Say Harold from the development team finds a critical bug – he enters the information into Proggio, and the project manager sees it one second later, prompting a project review to deal with the issue.
Or maybe the opposite is true as well – Harold completes his task three days ahead of schedule. The project manager sees the progress bar on the Projectmap hit 100%, and knows he has three days of Harold’s work time to make use of…and can handoff to the next stage early, too.
The Dynamic, Updating Projectmap
In Proggio, the Projectmap is not just a static plan. The progress bars update with input from the people working on those tasks and activities. (You can see the progress made under “Branding” activity in the “Marketing” workstream above.) The today line moves across the map, measuring progress against time. At a glance, you can see what is being done, by who, and where their progress is. The data is there.
And while this takes place, the Portfolio view updates itself in real time, gathering all the data that senior management, or a PMO, would need to see. You don’t have to answer the question “How are we doing?” because it won’t need to be asked! Management can follow along with the project, getting the answers and information they need.
The Portfolio view in Proggio is online, all the time – and updates itself. You don’t need to cram, or prepare convoluted presentations, or worry about who has what information where. You pull up the portfolio view, show the project progress by milestone, and click on an arrow to jump to the details inside the Projectmap if needed.
It can be this easy!