Projects like most things generate a lot of data, however, we’re not talking about the Twitter kind of data, apparently, 350 million tweets are sent every minute! We’re referring to the type of data that could be critical to a project’s success and save you budget overruns, delays, and other types of embarrassment. Bring your Project & Portfolio Management data to life with Microsoft Power BI reports.

The Current State of Reporting

According to The State of Project Management Survey 2020; 54% of participants did not have access to real-time project KPIs with 1/3 spending 1 or more days manually collating project reports.

In the context of PPM reporting, we’d state that time would be better spent on analysis rather than manually collating and stitching together the data. It, therefore, seems unjustified that so many organisations continue to spend huge amounts of time on manually generating reports when reporting tools such as Microsoft Power BI can automate the entire process.

Achieving Transparency with Power BI

In a recent article, we provided 5 Power BI Features to Help You Interrogate your Project Portfolio Data. The focus of this article is on increasing transparency of your Project Portfolio through Microsoft Power BI by surfacing the data that is being generated through Microsoft Project Online. This data could be related to various artefacts including but not limited to the schedule(s), resource management and RAID logs.

Which Reports?

With so much project data being generated, it can be challenging to know which reports make the most sense. Read on to find out the staple reports Wellingtone recommend as part of your PPM Solution, as well as some of the bespoke reports that have been developed to further empower decision-makers.

The Portfolio Dashboard

An essential tool for monitoring and controlling the project portfolio.Microsoft Power BI Portfolio Dashboard

Wellingtone – Portfolio Dashboard in Microsoft Power BI

The Portfolio Dashboard provides executives with a high-level view of the overall status of the portfolio; the overall health, progress, adherence to budget, as well as summarising key performance indicators across all projects in the portfolio.

Portfolio RisksPortfolio Risks Dashboard in Microsoft Power BI

Wellingtone – Portfolio Risks in Power BI

Portfolio Risk reports provide executives with an at-a-glance view of the potential threats or opportunities facing the project portfolio. Ideally, the report will show risk exposure – potential impact and possibility of occurrence.

Resource Utilisation and Availability

Overview of resource workload

Project Managers request support from Team Leads to allocate resources to projects. In order to make a reliable commitment to Project Managers, Team Leads need a complete overview of the the workload of their team members.

With the Resource Utilisation and Availability reports in Power BI, Team Leads are able to see which projects their team members are assigned to, as well as monitor overall utilisation to support with capacity planning.

Resource Assignments in Microsoft Power BI

Resource utilisation and availability reports

The Project Status ReportProject status report in Power BI

Project Status report

An overview of project progress. This report will communicate to stakeholders the achievements, upcoming milestones/deadlines/deliverables, a comparison of baseline, panned and actual schedule/work/cost, as well as a summary of key performance indicators for the project in question.

Take a look at some of these additional reports Wellingtone Consultants have developed for our clients based on custom requirements…

Governance & Quality Assurance

Project Online supports your organisational project lifecycle and assurance activities. One of the ways that it does this is through a lifecycle workflow that helps project managers navigate the different stages and phases of their projects.

Leveraging Power BI, Wellingtone has supported PMOs and Executives to easily keep track of how each project is progressing through the relevant governance stage gates and the approval status, as well as any outstanding approval action.

Project Approvals in Power BI

Project approvals in Power BI

Reviewed in conjunction with visuals to display how many projects are in each phase of the lifecycle as well as reports designed specifically to show how long projects spend within each phase.

Projects by Governance Phase

Portfolio Timeline Report in Power BI

Portfolio Timeline

This will indicate any critical accumulations in certain phases. PMOs and Executives can then use this information to identify any bottlenecks in the governance process and whether there is a requirement to streamline assurance activities.

PMO Quality Assurance (QA) reviews are formal, independent reviews performed throughout the project lifecycle with the objective of ensuring adherence to methodology and to identify areas that may prevent a project delivering the stated objectives.

As well as performing periodic QA reviews, PMOs have also expressed a requirement to focus on the quality of specific processes used to produce the project deliverables. A common example is the quality of the project schedule. PMOs want to encourage a standardised planning process by ensuring Project Managers are adhering to best practise principles.

Report that displays RAG indicators in Power BI

RAG indicators in Power BI

This report was developed specifically to display RAG (traffic light) indicators against different disciplines of the planning process.

Using this report, the PMO are able to see, at a glance, which projects are compliant and those and those that require attention.

Project Pipeline

Pipeline reporting can be as simple as showing a summary of all projects across their phases in the life cycle. This is important as PMOS and Executives need to know how many projects, how projects are progressing, and if/where projects are stalling. However, they also need to be assured that the projects being executed are the right projects; that they are aligned with the organisation’s strategic direction and will deliver the most business value.  Below is an example of how using reporting to surface this data can support strategic decision-making.

Leveraging the Microsoft Power Platform, our Wellingtone Consultants worked closely with the client PMO team to develop an online project pipeline prioritisation and selection process, from initial submission through to assigning a business priority score.

Power BI report that supports executives

Support Executives in Project Prioritisation

This enabled the example Power BI report to be generated, in turn, supporting Executives to determine the most strategic, economic and feasible projects to be prioritised for execution.

Surfacing Data from Multiple Sources

Power BI allows you to integrate data from multiple sources into a single location, then shape the data to meet your needs and create compelling reports and dashboards to share with others.

Our consultants have used this extensive capability to enable our clients to work with a richer data model and perform more comprehensive business analysis.

This custom report combines data from multiple sources to provide insight into the business sales pipeline. For this client, data was surfaced from their CRM system (Dynamics) and combined with data from their financial reporting system (Sage) to inform the management team with the value of current revenue streams (live projects) as well as upcoming opportunities.

Colour Palette Used to indicate health of sales pipeline - Power BI

Colour palette for sales pipeline

The colour palette used indicates the health of the pipeline by displaying the confidence of each opportunity coming to fruition, i.e. the chance of winning the bid, along with the anticipated value.

Time Reporting

Time reports can provide an invaluable tool for project managers as well as team leads. As well as providing insight into team performance, timesheet reports can help improve project planning and estimation techniques.

We’ve worked with a number of clients to provide a variety of time reports to satisfy their business needs…

Timesheet Audit Reports in Microsoft Power BI

From timesheet audit reports…

…flagging to the PMO any outstanding or ‘late timesheets’

Timesheets in Power BI

To providing visibility of utilisation across project work vs operational activity…

Utilisation Across Project Work vs Operational Activity in Power BI

…helping understand where resources are spending their time, how much effort is being deployed to deliver the change portfolio, as well as supporting business operations.

As well as reports that combine timesheet data with scheduling data to enable a comparison between actual time spent vs what was planned.

Actual vs Planned Data in Power BI

This review of Actual vs Planned data can also be used to inform future estimates. The easiest way to get reliable estimates for upcoming tasks is reviewing time spent on similar tasks in the past.

Tip – Avoid Information Overload

With access to copious amounts of data it’s easy to get carried away with reporting. We’d encourage that you spend time to carefully govern and curate a Project Portfolio reporting suite, ensuring that you use Power BI to only surface critical project data to support decision-making.

Next Steps

If you would like to discuss how Power BI could benefit you and your organisation, then please get in touch to speak with one of our Consultants today.

It’s available in Office 365 with both Pro and Premium variants being available (there is a desktop client too), and if your organisation has already embraced Office 365, the chances are that you might already have access to Power BI.

The great news if you have Microsoft Project Online and Power BI is that Microsoft provide a standard out of the box content pack that provides an array of reports and dashboards to get you started on your objective, automated, streamlined and improved PPM reporting journey.

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By: Rachel Goodwin

Rachel Goodwin
Senior PPM Consultant, Wellingtone | An experienced PMO professional; P30 and PRINCE 2 certified, skilled at developing and implementing Project & Programme management methodologies, tools and best practices, with the ability to balance formal processes with pragmatism to drive delivery.

Published: 18 November 2020

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