With 426 attendees, the sheer number of programme and project professionals that attended, demonstrated the keen interest in the topic of ‘Enhancing performance using a programme dashboard’.
Simon Springate, European Head of Project Controls at CH2M, drew from his wide experience to discuss the use of dashboards to enhance the performance of programmes. Simon covered a wide range of topics and kept the audience engrossed, generating many follow on questions, most of which were answered on the webinar, and others to be answered and published shortly.
Simon began from the basis that key to overcoming issues was Trust amongst the team. Lack of trust led to micromanagement with its attendant costs and complete breakdown of relationships. Simon discussed the data and update frequency one can use in reporting and monitoring dashboards, some metrics may be updated monthly or weekly, and e.g. safety should be updated daily.
One key element is making sure upfront that the intended audience of the dashboard has input into creating the dashboard - there isn’t a single way to do things. Without this input and buy in, people are unlikely read or act on the dashboard.
Simon demonstrated some examples of dashboards, ranging from Excel spreadsheets to bespoke reporting engines, as well as the types of data that one might typically include. Simon noted that the simplest dashboard was the most effective in analysing the critical elements to be included, and therefore interpreted and acted upon; a key message was to focus on the important information and metrics you want to get across and not to overcomplicate. As each project is unique and clients are diverse, there is no universal dashboard; they need to be assessed and tailored for the project and audience.
Using project and dashboard examples from CH2M, Simon illustrated ways to agree on the metrics, compared manual to electronic reports, and dashboards with maps so you can see progress spatially and understand the metrics in their particular context. For example, if aspects of the programme were reporting delays in the same geographic area, there could be a reason for this, and this helps to interpret the metrics, e.g. working in a tidal area and the tide is high.
It is the people element that is key to success which takes us full circle to the trust again. Even if the dashboard is based on good quality data and automatically updated from a central control source if it’s not read or doesn’t aid performance how can it be a success? As the reports are for the targeted audience they should contain information that has clarity, purpose and relevance. Simon advised us to ‘watch out if no feedback on changing the format was forthcoming, as this is a clear sign that it was not serving its purpose’, and worse still not being read.
A recording of the webinar and slides can be found at the end of this post.
APM Programme Management Conference – 10th March 2016, London
The APM Programme Management SIG (ProgM) Annual Programme Management Conference 2016 has a theme of Equipping Programme Managers for Global Success. It is now widely accepted that the only constant is change, and as the programme management environment becomes increasingly more mainstream and widely adopted, there is a need to ensure current and future programme managers have the skills and experience necessary to succeed.
The Programme Management community are operating in a digital world with a plethora of information sources, tools and techniques at their disposal (such as performance dashboards and discussed by Simon above).
To ensure Programme managers have the appropriate skills, competence and experience this conference brings together internationally recognised leaders to provide insight into the latest approaches and trends in both local and international contexts. The ability for the programme management community to draw upon these knowledge networks so as to share the latest good practice and experience will be showcased during this event.
For more details and to book (early bird ends early February) see the Events webpage.
Article written by Ed Wallington, Programme Management Chair, Vivianne Walters and Merv Wyeth, Programme Management SIG committee members.