A project portfolio dashboard supports the executive level and general
management of an organization in monitoring and controlling multiple
projects. In contrast to the project management dashboard of an individual project, it summarizes key performance indicators of virtually all projects the organization is undertaking.
Most Important Elements
As general manager of an organizational unit, what would you want to
know about the projects in your unit? The quick and simple answer is:
Are they on track or not? And for those which are not - what are the
problems, how do these problems affect our organization or business and
what can we do about them? But a project portfolio dashboard must show
more than only the present status and present problems of projects being
processed. It should also serve as planning support and “pre-warning
system” for the organization, corresponding to its key performance
indicators (KPI’s), and as such, is a guideline to how we have to set up
each project's controlling tools.
Take the following list as basis which you can adapt and extend to your needs.
Overall picture of all projects on track, with minor issues, or off track
Scope: are project work and results in line with requirements or expectations?
Schedule: which projects are ahead of, within or behind schedule?
Budget: project revenue, cost, profit
Present and planned utilization of resources
Project risk exposure
Stakeholder satisfaction, including customer satisfaction and team member satisfaction
Strategic alignment and changes of priorities of projects
Implementation and standardization of project management processes
Innovative ideas coming out of project work
Lessons learned of completed projects to support future projects
It is quite helpful to illustrate these KPI’s in a graphical form. Here are some examples.
Based on earlier project prioritization,
we have an example portfolio of 9 class I projects, 22 class II
projects and 38 class III projects. The overall picture of our project
portfolio dashboard shows that 3 of the class II projects and 2 of the
class I projects are off track, 5 of our class I projects have minor
Overall Picture of the Status of All Projects in a Portfolio
On our project portfolio dashboard we want to recognize issues in terms
of project scope, that is, problems with obtaining required or expected
work results, but also, innovative or extraordinary clever solutions. We
cover both areas with a qualitative analysis which we can delegate to
lower management levels. On the top management level, we only need to
see executive summaries that show problems proposed solutions, critical
constraints, threats and opportunities for our organization and business
that give us a basis for decision making.
For each project, we know earned value to date (EV) and compare it with planned value to date (PV) which gives us the schedule performance index (SPI):
Schedule Performance Index
In general, most of our projects should have an SPI close to 1, meaning
that they are on schedule. On our project portfolio dashboard we
summarize all SPI's in a graphical representation:
This chart shows that 6 of our projects are currently behind schedule
(red dots), 5 are ahead of schedule (green dots), etc. If we collect
these charts with their underlying data and compare them on a monthly or
quarterly basis we can recognize trends how good - or bad - we are
doing as an organization in terms of schedule performance.
In sub-section Planning the Project Budget we consider two aspects: project revenue and project cost. Here, we add another one: project profit.
The first aspect is project revenue (or volume). This is easy to track: we just add up project revenue of each project to obtain portfolio volume at a given time. Then, we can draw a simple chart with portfolio volume over time.
It shows different columns by quarters and in each column all the projects at that time in different colors. There seems to be a trend of decreasing overall volume - maybe, a good reason to talk to our key account and sales managers.
Revenue of a Project Portfolio
The second aspect is project cost. We know actual cost to date (AC) and compare it with earned value to date (EV) which gives us the cost performance index (CPI), for each project.
Cost Performance Index
Again, most of our project CPI's should be close to 1, meaning that they
are in budget. A summary of all CPI's on the project portfolio
dashboard could look like this:
Here, we seem to have 7 projects in our portfolio that are in trouble, 4 that are performing better than planned, all the others are on track. If we compare these charts on a monthly or quarterly basis we can recognize trends in terms of improvement – or deterioration – of our cost performance as an organization.
The third aspect is project profit.
If we know planned value (PV), earned value (EV) and actual cost (AC)
for each project at a given time, we can estimate or “predict” its
profit at project completion:
assuming that the current trend of how earned value and actual cost
develop for the remainder of the project duration continues (note that
the above formula leads to a very conservative prediction). Usually, we
express profit as a percentage:
Predicted Rate of Profit
When summarizing these predicted rates of profit of all our projects in
one chart of our project portfolio dashboard, comparing predictions
given at two different reporting dates, we could obtain something
similar to this:
For example, there is one project in our portfolio (red dot) that has a
predicted profit of 15% in quarter 1 of year 10 and 12% in quarter 2 of
year 10. Observe how the predicted profit of that project changes from
one reporting period to the next, by clicking the control buttons. See
also how the profit predictions of our portfolio as a whole (the “cloud
of dots”) developed over those five quarters.
A major constraint of most organizations is the limitation of resources,
especially when it comes to human resources (HR). Therefore, it is
essential for a project based organization to have a clear picture about
whom they need for what period of time. If we have manpower histograms
as part of the planning results for every project we are able to
summarize them into one portfolio histogram. The following example is a
summary of three projects - “Red”, “Blue” and “Yellow” - that shows how
many, let us say, mechanical engineers of a certain skill level we need
over the next three calendar years.
This can be another part of our project portfolio dashboard, serving as one important element of HR planning and controlling.
Our project based organization will have a certain exposure to risk. In each of our projects we perform risk analysis in planning phase, resulting in
additional work integrated into the project scope, schedule and budget, and
residual risk which we have to take as an organization.
For that residual risk we create project contingency. By pro-active risk management during implementation phase and closure phase of each project, we repeat risk analysis periodically in order to identify risks that disappear and risks that arise. As a consequence, we resolve corresponding parts of the project contingency, or create new ones, respectively. In order to monitor our project-related risk exposure we can integrate the following chart into our project portfolio dashboard.
This example suggests that there are eight projects that deserve high level management attention in terms of risk management. If we compare these charts on a monthly or quarterly basis we can recognize trends in our risk exposure as an organization.
Risk Contingency vs. Project Volume
We would like to encourage you to design your own project portfolio
dashboard based on those key performance indicators that are important
in your organization.
Such a dashboard cannot replace
goal-oriented, clear, and smooth communications taking place in an
atmosphere of mutual trust among all members of the organization.
Especially, this last aspect of mutual trust is essential for getting
clear and real pictures in our "project portfolio control center".
Whichever nice IT-based tools or graphics we use, the outcome of them
will only be as good as what we feed into them.
For details of concepts not explained here, please refer to