One common project portfolio challenge companies often encounter is that there’s a striking inconsistency in how project data and information is rolled up to the next level. Team members sometimes have wide discretion in interpreting how much work they have left to do, for example. Similarly, PMs may report to their supervisors differently, with some providing their updates as a percentage of the project that’s complete while others simply give the final dates of milestones that have already been achieved.
The result is that there’s no uniformity in how the various datasets are provided. And because this granular information is often full of subjective project status assessments from the various team members, it’s nearly impossible to maintain the clarity and accuracy of the data as everything is consolidated for presentation to the next level of management. By the time the senior staff has everything on hand for review, who knows what their reports might look like.
If any of this sounds familiar, you could be thinking it’s just how things are. Many organizations struggle along knowing their project data is full of inconsistencies, but there really is a better way to manage this information. Consider what your company gains by making data more uniform across your portfolio of initiatives.
You will be more efficient
Data variability has a number of negative consequences. One that becomes apparent early in the process is that, without a consistent way to track, gather, and report project information, PMs must try to standardize the mish-mash of incoming data they receive if they want to conduct a proper review and analysis. The entire process becomes a time sink for PMs, who often can’t even begin to identify potential problems until they finish reconstructing the information they need into something that’s usable.
You will provide more actionable insight to multiple levels of stakeholders
Between project managers, program and portfolio managers, business partners, sponsors, and executives, most project teams need to keep a number of different groups informed about the status of current efforts. If no one really knows how anyone else is reporting their data, stakeholders don’t have a way to translate all those pieces of information into something that’s useful and actionable for them.
The organization’s leadership team may also be left to fend for themselves. They’ll have far too many reports to sift through, and without an understanding of where the data management methodology may be flawed, they’ll never really get the clarity they need. Which high-priority projects are at risk? Which initiatives require their help—for the approval of additional funds or to reassign staff, for example—to ensure they can be completed successfully? Without actionable and digestible data in front of them, the executives won’t know the answers to these critical questions.
You will avoid multiple iterations of data
If your organization is driving several efforts as part of a large portfolio, you run the risk of having too many versions of project data floating around. The issue is compounded when the company relies on more than one PM to execute projects. Some of these professionals may omit certain metrics from their reports while other PMs include it. There’s also the possibility that some of the information is subjective—status or risk assessments, for example—if internal project staff don’t know how to harvest or interpret their raw data using a uniform process. The same metric may be stated one way in one report and differently in another. Unless someone goes through the information at a granular level and consolidates where appropriate, there will be multiple iterations of the same data available in the wild.