Too Many Projects to Manage? Use a Portfolio Dashboard.

In a recent post we showed you how to tame project chaos with a checklist, built in the free Google Sheets spreadsheet app. What if you need a more global view of all your projects at once, to be able to tell at a glance which projects are on time and on target? What you’re looking for is project portfolio management. This functionality is built-in to enterprise-class project management solutions like Asana, SmartSheet, and Microsoft Project and Portfolio Management. There is, as usual, a simpler way to do it yourself, and yes, it’s another spreadsheet:

This is a solution I developed as a full-time State Director for the largest membership organization in my state. My team of six staff and hundreds of volunteers statewide were producing over 100 events annually and we desperately needed a way to track them. No help was forthcoming from the national office, so it was roll-your-own time.

Using Microsoft Excel I developed a simple project portfolio dashboard to track dates, locations, budgets, and engagements for all our events. Some simple formulas allowed me to heat-map cells for budget-to-actual and cost-per-engagement columns, allowing us to get value out of critical performance data and target scarce resources to where they would do the most good.

The portfolio view isn’t only useful for the Check part of PDCA, it’s also great for planning. Use it to lay out your anticipated projects for the next budget period, and then you can decompose the individual projects into their own checklists or into a full-blown project management solution like the ones listed above.

So there you have it, two simple tools to bring your project portfolio management to the next level!