How can we use data and visualisation tools to automate PMO reporting?

How-can-we-use-data-and-visualisation-tools-to-automate-PMO-reporting?

As many of you will be aware, PMOs or Project Management Offices are key to the success of agile projects. Their roles include but are not limited to: establishing governance, planning resources, and providing management reports – their goal? To increase the efficiency of projects and the quality of deliverables. PMOs are therefore a pivotal part of any organisation. An efficient, well organised PMOs can be the difference between mediocre and outstanding performance for your company or client.  

One of the key tasks of the PMO is generating reports. These reports are intended to help management make informed decisions about the allocation of resources based on the progress of current projects. Traditionally, PMO reporting has been a time-consuming and labour-intensive process, requiring PMO staff to manually collect data from multiple sources, and then compile reports using spreadsheets or slideshows. This, being a manual process, is error prone, and it can also be difficult to get a clear picture of the overall project status, especially when dealing with large amounts of data. Most importantly though, it takes time away from the PMO to carry out their other duties. 

In the modern world, data is everywhere, and we produce data in our everyday lives in enormous quantities, including at work. Almost every action we take adds to our data footprint – the question to then ask is:  

Can we leverage our data footprint and use visualisation tools to increase the efficiency of reporting?   

We at NWT believe the answer is yes. Let’s take the example of Jira, a tool which many in the technology sector will be intimately familiar with and one we use regularly at NWT. According to Atlassian (the creators of Jira), over 65,000 companies use Jira worldwide, so this is a good place to start. For those who are not familiar with it, Jira is a work management tool which can be used to track tasks and projects, allowing near infinite customisability to suit the different workflow needs of projects and companies. Every time a project or issue is created within Jira, data is being created, all of which can be used in the PMO reporting space, if we just had access to it. Thankfully, Atlassian have built and maintain a superb API (Application Programming Interface) which we can utilise to access this plethora of data.  

Before we get into the details though, let’s pause and talk about APIs for a moment. For those who are not technical, an API is how we developers gain access to information from somebody else’s program or data source. Once an access token is given by the data owner, a developer can send HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol – this is just an internet protocol which defines how data is sent over the internet) requests to the API, the API will then respond with the results of that request, usually in the form of JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). The developers can then read this data object, getting the required data directly into their application. 

Diagram showing how an API works

Now we understand what an API is, we can start to see how powerful these may be when used in conjunction with visualisation tools. With access to data from our workflow management tool, we can see specific details at the customer, project, and issue level, to gain a deeper insight into the performance of our development teams. By combining APIs with modern data visualisation technologies such as Python, Power BI or JavaScript, we can now build a custom PMO reporting dashboard, specifically tailored to each client or project with ultimate flexibility. These dashboards will allow the PMO to provide customers with a real-time, high-level overview of project progress. Through the use of RAG (Red Amber Green) assessment, these dashboards can quickly and clearly indicate both areas of concern, and areas which are performing well. 

Another way in which we can use data and visualisation tools is through predictive analytics. This is a technique that uses statistical algorithms to identify patterns and trends in the data, and then predict future outcomes. As a simple example, a predictive algorithm could predict project completion date based on the number of tasks remaining and the current time spent on the completed tasks. By using such algorithms, the PMO can better anticipate future problems, and put mitigating strategies into place before they materialise, rather than trying to retroactively fix the problem after it occurs. This helps the PMO to identify easy to fix problems, before they become major issues, aiding in their overall goal of keeping projects on schedule and to a high quality, within budget.     

Building a reporting tool such as this takes time – granted, but the ability to create reports with real time data, whenever required or requested by the customer adds another level of professionalism to the PMO, strengthening customer relations. They also aide in project transparency and traceability to give customers the utmost trust in the work being carried out. Most importantly, automated reporting tools save the PMO valuable time which they can better spend bringing value to their projects and clients. We at NWT are really excited to welcome the future of automation and see how we can utilise it to bring about positive change in our own PMO and for our clients.

Find out more about how we can revolutionise your PMO with our Digital PMO service.

How can we use data and visualisation tools to automate PMO reporting?

How-can-we-use-data-and-visualisation-tools-to-automate-PMO-reporting?

As many of you will be aware, PMOs or Project Management Offices are key to the success of agile projects. Their roles include but are not limited to: establishing governance, planning resources, and providing management reports – their goal? To increase the efficiency of projects and the quality of deliverables. PMOs are therefore a pivotal part of any organisation. An efficient, well organised PMOs can be the difference between mediocre and outstanding performance for your company or client.  

One of the key tasks of the PMO is generating reports. These reports are intended to help management make informed decisions about the allocation of resources based on the progress of current projects. Traditionally, PMO reporting has been a time-consuming and labour-intensive process, requiring PMO staff to manually collect data from multiple sources, and then compile reports using spreadsheets or slideshows. This, being a manual process, is error prone, and it can also be difficult to get a clear picture of the overall project status, especially when dealing with large amounts of data. Most importantly though, it takes time away from the PMO to carry out their other duties. 

In the modern world, data is everywhere, and we produce data in our everyday lives in enormous quantities, including at work. Almost every action we take adds to our data footprint – the question to then ask is:  

Can we leverage our data footprint and use visualisation tools to increase the efficiency of reporting?   

We at NWT believe the answer is yes. Let’s take the example of Jira, a tool which many in the technology sector will be intimately familiar with and one we use regularly at NWT. According to Atlassian (the creators of Jira), over 65,000 companies use Jira worldwide, so this is a good place to start. For those who are not familiar with it, Jira is a work management tool which can be used to track tasks and projects, allowing near infinite customisability to suit the different workflow needs of projects and companies. Every time a project or issue is created within Jira, data is being created, all of which can be used in the PMO reporting space, if we just had access to it. Thankfully, Atlassian have built and maintain a superb API (Application Programming Interface) which we can utilise to access this plethora of data.  

Before we get into the details though, let’s pause and talk about APIs for a moment. For those who are not technical, an API is how we developers gain access to information from somebody else’s program or data source. Once an access token is given by the data owner, a developer can send HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol – this is just an internet protocol which defines how data is sent over the internet) requests to the API, the API will then respond with the results of that request, usually in the form of JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). The developers can then read this data object, getting the required data directly into their application. 

Diagram showing how an API works

Now we understand what an API is, we can start to see how powerful these may be when used in conjunction with visualisation tools. With access to data from our workflow management tool, we can see specific details at the customer, project, and issue level, to gain a deeper insight into the performance of our development teams. By combining APIs with modern data visualisation technologies such as Python, Power BI or JavaScript, we can now build a custom PMO reporting dashboard, specifically tailored to each client or project with ultimate flexibility. These dashboards will allow the PMO to provide customers with a real-time, high-level overview of project progress. Through the use of RAG (Red Amber Green) assessment, these dashboards can quickly and clearly indicate both areas of concern, and areas which are performing well. 

Another way in which we can use data and visualisation tools is through predictive analytics. This is a technique that uses statistical algorithms to identify patterns and trends in the data, and then predict future outcomes. As a simple example, a predictive algorithm could predict project completion date based on the number of tasks remaining and the current time spent on the completed tasks. By using such algorithms, the PMO can better anticipate future problems, and put mitigating strategies into place before they materialise, rather than trying to retroactively fix the problem after it occurs. This helps the PMO to identify easy to fix problems, before they become major issues, aiding in their overall goal of keeping projects on schedule and to a high quality, within budget.     

Building a reporting tool such as this takes time – granted, but the ability to create reports with real time data, whenever required or requested by the customer adds another level of professionalism to the PMO, strengthening customer relations. They also aide in project transparency and traceability to give customers the utmost trust in the work being carried out. Most importantly, automated reporting tools save the PMO valuable time which they can better spend bringing value to their projects and clients. We at NWT are really excited to welcome the future of automation and see how we can utilise it to bring about positive change in our own PMO and for our clients.

Find out more about how we can revolutionise your PMO with our Digital PMO service.

Together, Anexinet and NWT are uniquely positioned to help clients streamline their journey to the Cloud in the face of the pandemic by designing, building, automating and managing their workloads and applications on Enterprise-Cloud or Cloud-Hyperscalers, including AWS, Alibaba, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. The strategic partnership has already helped one established financial institution unlock significant value by accelerating the development and delivery of effective, integrated Cloud-based solutions. Anexinet’s proven Kickstart process and comprehensive set of tools and services deliver an Agile, scalable Cloud-based environment that embraces traditional IT as well as Private, Public, and Managed Cloud. Migrating applications and business systems to the Cloud is a daunting task for even the most mature organization. As a result, a Cloud-adoption strategy and roadmap often means the difference between successful deployment and failure to launch. Anexinet helps organizations determine their ideal strategic approach.

 

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