Meeting Your Business Goals Using Project Portfolio Management

How do you know if you’re on track to meet your business goals? This is a million dollar question. Most people are looking at the data – but what data you are looking at, is it visually organized, and is it answering the right questions?

Many workplace tools come loaded with dashboards, which purport to give you the data you need to know if you’re on track to succeed. These dashboards pull data from reports and workflows across the organization, and try to tease out some kind of view that shows you progress and trajectory.

The problem with this is simple: it doesn’t show you how it arrived at its conclusions. You can’t open a graph and drill down into its components to learn the background details. You can’t fix a situation with quick actions, then go back to see the results. The dashboard is its own little bubble.

Portfolio Management View Is Meant To Answer This Question

How do you know an organization’s goals? Ask it what it is doing day over day. The organizational path to success is reflected in the projects running to accomplish the organization goals. Take a bird’s eye view of an organization’s projects, and you can see all its goals. Now measure the progress of each project, and you can understand how close it is to achieving its goals…or not.

Oddly, most Portfolio views in project management tools miss this point completely, and show you charts and data tables – while the simple and elegant birds eye view needed is presented in an unnecessarily complicated manner. In fact, many project management tools lack a portfolio view completely – the only way to get a glimpse into project progress is to look at each individual project on its own and draw your own conclusions from the project plan.

The Visual Is Everything In A Picture

Portfolio view is what gives you the birds eye view into ongoing organizational endeavors, which allows you to measure success against organizational goals. HOW it shows this to you is incredibly important.

If your report isn’t understandable, it doesn’t actually tell you anything. It might have great graphs and graphics, but it doesn’t communicate the main issue! A good portfolio view uses the visual presentation to give you information – and speaks the same visual “language” across multiple planes.

Take the following example, from Proggio.

Proggio PPM ViewYou see a list of company projects, which you are familiar with. The projects are presented over time, with milestones forming the stages of the project. Each project gets a score showing its overall health, allowing you to gauge its adherence to schedule and level of readiness.

Clicking any arrow will bring you to the project plan, which keeps the same “visual language” while providing more detail. Say you want to look into the “First Device” project. Click it to open it, and you see this:

Proggio Project PlanningNow you have a more detailed view at the individual components of the project, its structure, and its progress.

Multi-level Views: Crucial For Clarity

The visual connection between the two layers is critical for your level of understanding! You aren’t going to be able to cram every detail into a bird’s eye view, but you still need it at your fingertips for times where details matter.

Now let’s take this one step further. You see there’s an issue with one project at the Portfolio view. You drill down to the project plan and see the problem is being caused by a particular activity on the timeline.

I bet you guessed this by now, but yes – you can click to open the activity box on the timeline and get even more data, looking at individual tasks and who is responsible for them. Two clicks from project portfolio to tasks and execution, and you have the source of the data (plus a multi-leveled view of the project and the organization as a whole).

Task ManagementContrast this with a dashboard that shows you data widgets. OK, you can see there’s an issue in one project. You may not be able to see which one. Even if you could, you wouldn’t be able to see what the issue is. You certainly cannot drill down quickly and painlessly to discover the kernel of the problem.

And yet, this is the most effective way of learning how the company is doing in achieving its business goals!

Executive Summary: Meeting Business Goals With Portfolio View

  • The answer to “Are we set to meet our goals?” lies in a bird’s eye view of organizational projects – the company’s defined goals – and their progress
  • This bird’s eye view must be backed up by real data, not a picture of information you’ve entered taken out of context
  • The visual representation needs to be multi-leveled, where the bird’s eye view can zoom in to granular detail when needed