I’ve posted in the past about how Smartsheet provides good dashboarding capabilities. Today I’m going to dive a little deeper in how to build a great project and portfolio dashboard in Smartsheet.
Set Your Data
Good dashboards come from good data sources. Without a good source of data feeding your dashboard, all the pretty charts and highlights are worthless. In Smartsheet, there is the ability to link virtually any sheet you have access to into your dashboard. For example, if you want your dashboard to show highlights of your project plan you need to surface that data in a way that will be consumable and presentable on your Smartsheet dashboard. Normally what I do is to add columns directly into my project schedule that I plan to surface on my Smartsheet dashboard. In the example shown below I have added two columns to help me indicate the status and comments of each phase that I can then use to show at a summary/dashboard level. Smartsheet is incredibly malleable in this regard and pretty much any column you have in your sheet, you can present in a report or dashboard.
Minimize the Maintenance
The whole point of dashboards is to minimize the amount of time needed to surface important data to key decision makers. By configuring your dashboards to pull data directly from source-of-truth sheets, you will be able to not only have real-time data presented in your dashboard but you also minimize (if not eliminate) the manual work or maintenance that goes into keeping your dashboard up to date. While Smartsheet cannot report on data sources outside of Smartsheet itself, if you use Smartsheet as your source of truth for the data elements being presented in your dashboard you virtually eliminate the need to integrate to any other systems. For example, to link up to outstanding invoice data, you can build a Smartsheet that captures this information and then can report/aggregate this data up to a dashboard. By having your Smartsheet dashboard report directly from your project schedule, as updates are made to that schedule, those updates are reflected immediately in your dashboard.
Smartsheet is a wonderful schedule management tool and while it may not be as deep with features as other tools out there, the presentment and share-ability of the tool makes it incredibly powerful. Building a dashboard in Smartsheet that surfaces key data points to decision makers will help enable your project leadership to keep close tabs on your project and provide the support you need to be successful.