Building a Portfolio Dashboard
Part of any successful Project Management Office (PMO) is the ability to deliver concise reporting on how each of your projects are performing. C-suite and executive stakeholders do not have the time to sift through pages and pages of detailed project status reports. So what is a PMO manager to do? This is where your portfolio dashboard will save the day. I'll give you some components that are must-haves to show your executive group so that in 5 minutes or less, they'll understand the high level state of your project portfolio.
Focus on Visual
Dashboards are meant to tell a number or a status in a very quick manner. This is done primarily through the use of visual components in the report. A chart, a graph, a green/yellow/red indicator. These items will quickly catch they eye of the reader and allow them to determine if they need to dig into more detail because of something they saw initially that warranted such investigation. For example, you could have a single green/yellow/red indicator at your project level followed by next level indicators - or even graphs - that signified the state of each of the major components of your projects (i.e. budget, schedule, customer sat, etc.). By starting at the 30,000 ft level, you are allowing your portfolio dashboard to paint the broad strokes picture for your reader and allowing them to choose where they want to drill into.
Nothing will sink your portfolio dashboard quicker than invalid or aged data. While you can potentially automate some of it, it is vital that you are getting input from your project managers and team members on where things are at. Things such as reporting on budget and schedule can be mostly automated (assuming you have the systems and infrastructure in place to support the data shuttling needed), but more subjective details such as risks, issues and customer sat need to be provided from your team members. Weekly is a relatively fair cadence for providing such information, unless project or organizational conditions dictate otherwise.
Having a portfolio dashboard that can be viewed on-demand is greatly valuable to those who may need information quickly. So rather than building something that needs to be manually compiled and delivered each week, focus on building something that can be viewed on-demand by your executive stakeholders that will have the automated data feeds updated regularly (ex. nightly) with the understanding that the more manual information is updated less frequently (ex. weekly). But by having something that a CEO can quickly call up at 7pm on a Tuesday night with relatively fresh information is far more useful than having to sift through all of the Monday morning emails trying to find the Word document attachment that was emailed out.