Success, for a project manager (PM), is the unicorn of product development: elusive but highly sought after and extremely valuable. Responsible for not only customer satisfaction, but the happiness and productivity of their team, project managers may find themselves in what feels like a three-ringed circus: juggling timelines, resources and budget without the luxury of imperfection.
This might sound complex, if not impossible, but it’s also one of the most important – and rewarding – roles in the product development process.
You Don’t Have to Chase Rainbows
PMs carry a heavy burden – for their clients and their teams. For the PM, two of the most important goals are getting the job done on time and getting it done on budget.
Sound impossible? It doesn’t have to be, especially with the right goals, information and metrics (although the latter goes unnoticed by many companies). Skills like time management, organization and communication are paramount, but provide little value unless you have the right data to implement them. That’s why data tracking and visualization are so important; without a clear understanding of where the project is and where it’s going, “success” becomes less of a possibility and more of a myth.
What Should Project Managers Pay Attention To?
Product development is a pressure cooker. It’s fast-paced, goal-oriented, and defined by time, resources and budget.
Here are a few key metrics to help you kick start your project management dashboard and data tracking:
- Projected Profitability – For virtually all companies, profitability is paramount. The question is simple: How much value does this project bring? Knowing this lays the foundation you need to parcel out resources and the appropriate time frame you need to complete the mission.
- Resource Utilization – A number of factors influence the profitability of your project; resources is one of them. This includes the time, equipment and people you need to get the job done (and get it done right.) In short, an inefficient process uses more resources, cutting into the ROI (Return on Investment) of the project.
- Change Requests / Scope of Work – Besides organization and communication, PMs need to be flexible. In other words, the scope of a given project could – and probably will – include some revisions along the way. Managing client requests (including changes) is part of the job, and handling them effectively will not only cut down on project overhead, but increase customer satisfaction when the product is complete.
- Quality Control – Mistakes happen; it’s fixing them that counts. As a project manager, you have to identify potential weak spots and, throughout the development stages, adjust quality issues and ensure the final product is perfect. This takes time during development, but will end up saving resources later one. Imagine a final QC (quality control) without any adjustments! It sounds crazy, but that should be your goal.
- Return on Investment (Actual Profit) – In the beginning stages of a project, the PM should have a pretty good idea of the project profitability. At the end, the PM should understand the exact ROI (profitability minus the actual investment). The only way to calculate this is by keeping track of resource metrics during the development phase, including projected cost investments and, in the end, the actual investment and return. Using this information, you can streamline future jobs.
Visualizing Data Is the Best Way to Understand It
Humans are visual creatures, especially when it comes to large amounts of data. Like any area of business, numbers determine the success or failure of your project. But accumulating these numbers and deploying them in a practical way takes time (and a lot of effort, if you don’t have the right tools to present that information). Using data visualization, you can project metrics in a way that people understand.
This is especially important for team leaders, such as PMs. As a PM, you’ll need to convey real data to your team members in a way they can understand. And since your team probably isn’t comprised entirely of mathematicians, data visualization is the most obvious (and simple) solution.
Interested in Learning More?
Project management doesn’t have to be a wild goose chase. See how you can transform your data into real, valuable information by contacting iDashboards today. If you’d like to start the conversation about data visualization and product development, feel free to share this post on social media!
As iDashboards Operations Director, Trip Dixon manages all aspects of the marketing, professional services, pre-sales services and technical support departments. In addition to Trip’s leadership expertise, he is an experienced presenter and has spoken at numerous industry events all over the world.