How to Improve Project Visibility
From multiple tools to no communication plan and unclear roles, achieving project visibility is quite challenging! In this post, I’ll explain the concept of project visibility in more detail, and outline some easy ways to improve your insight into project progress.
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What is Project Visibility?
Project visibility refers to a clear picture of how a project is performing, including resource allocation and potential risks.
Increased visibility ensures everyone involved in the project understands what the objective of the project is and their role in meeting this goal.
No doubt, visibility conjures images of real-time reports, portfolio dashboards, metric tiles, and scorecards. These tools are vital to project visibility, but they are only part of the puzzle. Project visibility also requires strong communication and collaboration.
Visibility impacts on the team, the project manager, and stakeholders in different ways.
The project team
The project team relies on visibility to:
- Understand their role in a project.
- Track and prioritize work across multiple projects.
- Use the right version of project documents.
- Recognize the importance of the project to the organization overall.
The project manager
As the main contact for a project, visibility helps project managers to:
- Track and re-plan the project as needed.
- Provide timely updates to stakeholders and the team.
- Identify and address risks.
- Ensure everyone on the team is contributing to the project.
- Work easily with external contractors.
Stakeholders and management need visibility across projects and portfolios to:
- Quickly find and understand the status of ongoing work.
- Identify risks and take corrective action.
- Track resources across the portfolio, reallocating individuals as needed.
Visibility creates accountability for success and allows teams to make decisions to drive the project forward.
3 Common Causes of Project Visibility
There are a number of factors that can contribute to the lack of visibility on a project. Here are three common challenges to look out for.
1. No Project Management Tool
Visibility across projects and portfolios requires standardized ways of working.
If every project is delivered using a different method or tool, there is no common base for tracking and reporting. Need a roll-up report across multiple tools? Forget it!
2. No Document Management
Without a central repository for project information and documentation, every team member will likely have a different version of a document saved in an obscure location that is only accessible by them.
Before long, tasks will be delayed or completed incorrectly.
3. No Communication Plan
Do you share updates with your team regularly by email? Are key decisions discussed and approved in a chat tool? Does your project sponsor need a weekly report in a spreadsheet or presentation?
Using multiple communication channels leads to a fragmented picture of the project. You’ll waste too much time trying to get updates from the team, whilst stakeholders will struggle to deal with risks.
Now you know what project visibility is and why it’s important, let’s look at four simple ways to improve visibility into your projects.
4 Ways to Improve Project Visibility
1. Introduce Project Management Software
Use one tool to plan, track, and update your project. The tool should facilitate collaboration, real-time reporting, and make it easy to manage your project documentation.
If your organization is using SharePoint, the Free Project Management Template from BrightWork is an ideal starting point. A pre-planned site, the template has everything you need to manage your project straight out-of-the-box – no coding or configuration required.
2. Create a Project Communication Plan
A communication plan provides essential guidance as to how and when project updates will be shared, and with whom. Having a communication plan in place before starting the project will eliminate confusion later on.
When creating your plan, be sure to include some details on when to use email and chat, and how to report risks.
Add the document to your project site for easy access.
3. Kick-off Meeting
Before work starts, run a kick-off meeting with your project team.
Use this session to explain the objectives of the project, the timelines, roles and responsibilities, and so on. Encourage individuals to ask any questions they have about the project before work begins.
4. Hold Weekly Team Meetings
A weekly team meeting is an easy way to get insight into your project – if the meeting is productive.
Running a successful meeting that energizes and informs your team requires discipline and effort. Try this sample agenda in your next meeting as a starting point:
- Review and agree on the agenda with the team
- Review, discuss and resolve – in so far as possible- any open issues. Be careful that the issues are “real issues”
- Look at upcoming tasks for next week
- Project process and approach – any adjustments needed?
- (Time Permitting) Look at tasks achieved last week, or at least, the highlight tasks from last week
- Summarize the meeting outcomes.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
If you are struggling to track project progress, step back and consider if you have the right tools in place. To get full visibility and control, you’ll need a single project management solution, a communication plan, and a proactive relationship with your team.
Get visibility and control with your Free SharePoint Project Management Template
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.