Relevance: The quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate.

A consistent value capability of a Project Management Office (PMO) is the ability to share data through a variety of different reports, analytics, and dashboards. Presenting the right combination of data through a set of meaningful reports & dashboards is a missing value added capability provided by very few PMO’s. There are a variety of reasons for this. Some key drivers are the inability of the PMO to relate their reporting to the organizational strategy or the presence of competing outside data sets which contradict the story the PMO is trying to tell. This article provides four best practices that will serve as your bedrock in providing the meaningful reports your organization needs.

Reports Must Be Aligned with Your Organization’s Strategy:

As a leader within your organization you should be mindful of your organization’s strategy. It is imperative to make sure your reporting emphasizes and re-enforces the strategy of your organization.

For instance, your organization may be focused on the achievement of greater revenues or greater profitability. Then your reporting may have a heavy emphasis on telling the story about how the various investments (projects) within the portfolio will help or have contributed to this goal.

On the other hand, your organization may be focused on operational excellence. In this case the emphasis on your reporting may be focused on key operational PMO measures (projects completed on time, average time to get a project activated, etc.).

Both of these examples illustrate how what you choose to report can reinforce very different organizational strategies.

Your Data Must Be Accurate and Be Free of Conflict with Other Data Sources:

Your data can’t be wrong. If people are questioning the correctness of the data versus talking about the message your data conveys then you have lost trust with your customers (possibly irrecoverably). I will have another article about how to ensure that your data is consistently correct in the near future. In the meantime, just know that your data needs to be correct in order to achieve relevance.

Your data can often come into conflict with other data sources. When this happens, the conflict must be resolved. For instance, a project manager may have entered status appropriately within your Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) tool only to have the status come into conflict with the information available in a development manager’s status report. Possible ways to resolve this conflict include having the development manager pull status from PPM tool or by having the project manager align the status entered in the PPM tool with that of the development manager. Data conflicts must be resolved to produce reporting that is truly relevant for the organization.

Your Reporting Must Always Provide Context:

People will make assumptions about data in the absence of context. Often these assumptions are not helpful. Providing context to your reporting will help reduce these unintended assumptions.

Consider the following example showing the percent of projects in the portfolio delivering to the first commit.

Three out of the five projects in the Big Deal Program are late. Notice how all of them have a project name listed. The fact that these projects were late must be the fault of the project manager, right? The lack of any context within this data leads the reader to make these types of assumptions.

Consider how this example can be tweaked to help lead the reader to the correct assumptions:

Just by adding the “Reason for Miss” column there is now more context in terms of why projects did not hit their first commitment. Certainly, it is not a detailed accounting for why the projects are late, but this type of approach starts to frame the story beyond the assumption that everything is the project manager’s fault.

Providing this type of context can help a PMO achieve relevance in their reporting.

Your Reporting must present a High Level of Professionalism:

Professionalism must be embedded within your PMO brand, especially in reporting. Typos, items that are not labeled appropriately, and lack of standards around a uniform look and feel will doom the story that you are trying to tell in your reports. Ultimately, a lack of professionalism will doom your entire PMO brand.

I suggest the following 3 things to maintain the professionalism of all PMO deliverables (not just reporting):

  1. Run spell check.
  2. Use a quality check list for your routine deliverables. This does not need to be anything complicated. Compile a list of things that you check for when you publish your work such as looking for a standard font size or ensuring that you follow a consistent date format (3/8/17 versus 3/8/2017).
  3. Peer review your routine deliverables.

A clean, professional look to your reports will help to ensure your reports remain relevant for your customer.

Following the 4 principles in this article will provide a solid foundation for your goal of providing reports your organization needs from the PMO.


Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.

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Karl Hallgrimsson

Karl Hallgrimsson

Co-Founder: Project Management for Today

Karl has worked in many different organizations over his 18+ Year career. These organizations include TeleTech, IBM, DaVita, and Hewlett Packard, Inc. He has served as a change agent in each organization, either by building up strong operational rigor in PMO's, or by greatly improving an organization's Analytics capability. Karl's contributions to this site provides practical recommendations suiting a variety of environments, which will be best suited for readers who are interested in updating their Analytics, PMO Operational, or Portfolio Management capabilities.
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