Beautiful PMO Data

PMOs are amazing repositories of data. From risk logs, to timesheets, to invoices to portfolio allocation, PMOs have a burgeoning pool of data which analysts can use to help the business make sense of their investments. But is your data beautiful?

What good is our data if it sits, languishing in spreadsheets or PPM tools? Data is there to help us understand what is going on. By making that data visual, we make it easier to see patterns in the data. Humans are wired for visual stimuli. Presenting data visually can decrease learning time and increase retention rates.  Visualizing your Project Portfolio data is a quick, easy way to convey concepts in a way that is easy for your audience to grasp - without expecting them to pour over spreadsheets or reports. 

Treemap visualization of two project portfolios

Treemap visualization of two project portfolios

The example above uses one of Excel 2016's new graphs - the Treemap. Treemaps are grat for creating a hierarchical view of data which is easy to compare. At a glance, you can see that Portfolio 1 is much larger than portfolio 2. Not only that, you can quickly grasp the relative size of projects across both portfolios. This is a great visual to have on the front page of your PMO intranet site as it gives readers and instant perspective of the whole portfolio. Imagine how powerful it would be if you could click on each project to drill down into project metrics and reports?

One-week of timesheet data

One-week of timesheet data

I created this visualization using Gephi, an open-source visualization application. It's a view of timesheet data from a single week in an organization. As PMO professionals we are often keen to compartmentalize data and view our projects as discrete entities. This graph shows they are anything but! On the outskirts of the graph we can see individuals who are only booking time to one project. But in the center? Suddenly we see our portfolio is far less tidy than we had believed! The same few resources are being called on by multiple projects, and some projects are using virtually the same resource pool. Given everything we know about context-switching being bad for you, we have to wonder whether we are using our resources efficiently, and whether we should review the project mix in our portfolio.

Inter-project dependencies 'death star'

This is another Gephi visualization, but this time we are looking at inter-project dependencies. This view allows us to quickly grasp the complexity of our data, whilst understanding which projects in our portfolio are dependency hubs on which many others are dependent. A conventional assessment of the project portfolio would suggest we devote our support and oversight efforts on the highest value projects. This visualization tells us that maybe our time would be better invested in three or four key dependency hubs.

UK Government spending by department, 2009-10 (The Guardian)

UK Government spending by department, 2009-10 (The Guardian)

The final visualization I'd like to share is not actually PMO data at all - it comes from an analysis of UK government spending undertaken by  Simon Rogers at The Guardian. I've included it here because it is a great example of visualizing spend - Could PMOs produce something similar?

Do you have any examples of great PMO data visualization? Let us know in the comments box below.