Unified dashboard – Managing projects beyond the control and result paradox

Case study

Unified dashboard – Managing projects beyond the control and result paradox

In traditional project management, where the deliverables/results are known, the command and control model works well as the responsibilities of all stakeholders are pre-defined. In such scenarios, information management can be tamed by defining management processes and responsibilities, and streamlining communication channels. Large scale programs in the IT industry span across various teams maintaining specialized functions like infrastructure, application, support or end users. It is common to see different teams maintaining different information about the same setup, which also leads to duplication of information and, many times, wrong information. Even within the same team, different information is maintained in different sites, which leads to complexities in reaching the right information. For example, having separate sites for managing FAQs, SOPs, infrastructure information, project status, stakeholder information, issue tracker, etc. makes onboarding of new team members difficult due to the presence of information scattered around disparate systems. Such inconsistencies become a bottle-neck for project managers, as transparency is lost, which creates conflicts among the stakeholders.

This case study is based on our experience working with multiple vendors for implementing a large-scale automation project. Our client is one of the top 5 US-based global insurance brokerage and risk management services firms. The program was a first of its kind for the client, and it was completely a fresh implementation, right from discovering the technology to sizing up the requirements and needs. No one, neither the client or the vendors – including the product vendor – was experienced in such an implementation.

Requirements

The program was initiated in one of the client departments, and it was bound by critical timelines. But, due to the dynamic nature of the program, there were a lot of unknowns, which made it difficult to track the status of multiple components handled by various internal and external stakeholders. It became difficult to discuss all the open-end requirements and issues during daily program calls. Clearly, there was a need to have a one-stop-shop system to overcome these shortfalls. Imaginea’s Project Management team came up with a list of requirements to build a system for:

  • effectively tracking all aspects of the program
  • showcasing overview of the entire program, so that the core stakeholder committee can get an at-a-glance view of the project’s progress and issues
  • sharing detailed and consistent information for the implementation teams across vendors
  • providing enough information to other departments in the client’s business to help assess whether they should consider implementing a similar program or not
  • maintenance and support teams to maintain documentation

Challenges

Initially, the program progress information was taken from multiple sources like physical documents and digital applications/sites, and collated in excel sheets. There were multiple issues in this method, which led to misunderstandings and misgivings between teams and vendors. The key challenges are listed below:

  • it was not possible to get answers to all the recorded questions during the daily calls
  • some of the information was available only with specific teams or members, which delayed the progress of the project
  • project delays resulted in increased cost and delayed ROI

It was hard to quantify and showcase the benefits of the automation program, which made it difficult to convince and onboard other business divisions into this program.

Solution

We built a one-stop solution for all teams associated with large IT programs – infrastructure, development, QA, deployment, support, maintenance, PMs, vendors. The solution provided a unified dashboard, which enabled:

  • the client to see how their investment is progressing
  • the core committee to monitor and plan ahead
  • other business stakeholders to assess and decide whether to board the bandwagon or not

The solution doubled up as a single repository of all related information and learnings for the future.

Tech stack

How our solution helped

Our unified dashboard helped in streamlining complex automation projects with accessible information. It helped our clients in onboarding business teams faster by showcasing project capabilities and success stories.

Overall approach

Information was categorized and bucketed into 7 areas approximately. We identified authentic sources for these information types and devised optimal methods to represent, store and maintain the integrity of the information. We chose SharePoint as the document management system (DMS) for this purpose. Privacy of data was handled via user access control.

Information from the existing excel was loaded to the DMS. Applications or sites having information were embedded into the same DMS site. Information not available in the digital form was digitized as well. All these were sorted into one of the 7 buckets, from where relevant information was displayed through dashboards. Here is mock of two types of dashboards:

The complete solution was implemented with ‘out-of-the box’ SharePoint functionalities, which included even the launching of .net applications within the DMS page. Similar project management solutions can be implemented in any DMS, enterprise or custom solutions.

Results

Once the solution was implemented, the following tangible results/outcomes were experienced by the client:

  • It became a go-to solution for all information across the program for program/project manager, business & IT stakeholders, infrastructure and support personnel, and vendors. The system was used as:
    • a live project repository
    • a program and project status dashboard
    • a deployment and support ticket dashboard
    • an issue tracker and lessons learnt repository
    • a support knowledge base
    • an infrastructure information repository
    • a design, product and other information repository
    • a reference information repository for new business on-boarding
  • Duplication of information was successfully avoided
  • Accuracy of information was maintained with ease
  • The solution was used for marketing the automation program within the company
  • Dynamic information was immediately available as and when it was updated
  • It reduced meeting time:
    • daily meetings gave way to weekly meetings
    • information seeking calls gave way to more futuristic discussions
  • It created visibility and transparency across projects and vendors reducing misunderstanding and miscommunication
  • It also led to faster project implementation, reduced cost and quicker ROI

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