Before you go about building your dashboard, you need to ensure it will collect and report information that the key decision-makers of your program care about. If you do not do this, you will only build a dashboard for a single audience…yourself.
Remember the Purpose of a Dashboard
The purpose of a dashboard is to provide current and accurate information that a controller can use to ensure he or she is on course (and take quick corrective action if not). As such, your first question is, “Who are the controllers of my program portfolio?” This will be the subject of this post. (The second question, “What information is critical for accurate decision-making and quick corrective action?” is the subject of the next post in this series.)
Your Controllers Are Your Critical Stakeholders
Every organization that I have been part of (or consulted to) contains a set of critical stakeholders whose support you need to ensure success. Boiling this down to single phrase, I refer to this as, “The list of people who must agree to say ‘Yes’ – or agree not to say ‘No’ – for your program to succeed.”
Before you jump in and design your dashboard, ask yourself the above question. This answer to this question will almost contain at least three of the following types of people:
- The person responsible for implementation of the technology
- The business sponsor or manager of the end users of the results of the project (if you are a contractor or vendor, this will be the customer account manager)
- The person responsible for training and support of the end users
- The finance manager who is concerned with cost and budget
- For regulated markets (e.g., Finance, Health Care, Insurance) the person responsible for ensuring safety and/or regulatory compliance
Depending on where you portfolio fits in the overall mission of your organization these individuals may be line managers or executives. What matters is not the level, but rather the involvement of more than simply a technology or program management point of view.
Determining What Your Stakeholders Want to See For Decision-making
Once you have determined who your critical stakeholders are, you will need to find out what they want to see in the dashboard to be informed and be able to make decisions when needed. This is not a hard prospect: you simply need to speak with them (or their proxy representatives if direct conversation is not possible due to market or organization size). Once you complete these conversations, you will have insight into what metrics you need to capture (again, our next blog post) to make the Dashboard useful to them.
Remember to Include Yourself as Well
While it is important to ensure your stakeholders find your Dashboard appealing and useful, it is equally important to ensure it collects the information you need, as Program Manager, to do your job effectively. Therefore, include yourself as a Critical Stakeholder in determining what you need for success. This will ensure your Program Dashboard provides a complete 360-degree view that you and your stakeholders can use to see current and accurate information (and quickly use this to keep your programs on the path to success.)
This is my first tip in my series on creating effective dashboards to ensure program success. The contents of this post draw heavily on the Decision-based Governance Model for Agile Management of large, complex program portfolios.