Smartsheet is most likely already being used within your organization. But did you ever consider it to be the solution for Project Portfolio Management? With all its functionality, flexibility, automation capabilities and add-ons it’s not even a strange thought is it? From request to approval and from planning to execution, Smartsheet can support the entire project lifecycle. Smartsheet is also equipped with a solid dashboarding engine. This enables you to gain insight and keep control over the project portfolio. Let’s have a look!
A lot of organizations have a very scattered way of capturing project demand. Some departments use Excel, while others just start executing the projects as they come along. And there is of course the combination of both. Wouldn’t it be nice if your organization is able to capture all project demand in a similar and structured way and can streamline the related approval process?
By setting up a Project Intake Sheet in combination with a Project Request Form, you will instantly get an overview of all available demands coming from everywhere in your organization. If you incorporate this form into your MS Teams environment, everyone can easily find it and directly knows where and how to enter a new project demand.
After submission you can directly start an approval workflow which instantly informs the related stakeholders. When applicable you can setup a multi-level approval workflow if, for example, the requested budget exceeds a certain amount.
Because all data is stored in the Project Intake sheet, it will give you an easy to use overview of all project requests. This overview can be sorted based on priority, track status and more to help compare project requests and determine which ones to convert into a project.
Smartsheet offers a powerful add-on called Control Center which simplifies the process of creating and setting up projects. I’ve written about it in an earlier blog, but this huge time-saver will reduce the amount of manual work of setting up a project tremendously. It copies all template sheets, reports and dashboards required to manage the project. Next to this, it ensures all sheet links are correct and the reports will directly point to the correct sheets.
Once the project has been created, your Project Managers can directly focus on the content and start refining the project schedule, managing the budget, actuals and start logging Risk, Issues, Actions and Decisions in the RAID log. Without going into the details of managing a project, it’s good to know that when a project is in progress, all data easily feeds back into the Project Highlight Report and Portfolio Summary overviews.
The Project Highlight Report can be shared with your stakeholders in various ways. This can be done either directly in Smartsheet, but it can also be published and displayed outside Smartsheet in for example your Microsoft Team environment.
Insight in the portfolio
It’s pretty straightforward to focus on one single project, but it’s more challenging to see how your entire portfolio is doing. Insight in the portfolio requires some good dashboards and reports with high-level information as well as drill through options. Especially when projects have more than just a schedule sheet, you need an easy way to summarize and aggregate all the data. This is another advantage of the Control Center add-on. As soon as a project is created, it ensures that all relevant project information is included in your Portfolio Dashboard and reports as well. Again, a great way to limit the administrative burden.
In the image below you see an example of a Portfolio Dashboard. It provides some key metrics on the number of projects and the budget. It highlights which projects require attention. It picks up all Open Decisions with direct access to the corresponding sheets so the portfolio board can easily take action. Finally it displays a roadmap showing when projects are scheduled. As said, it’s just an example and the options are endless.
Now you’ve seen how you can further leverage your investments in Smartsheet to track the project lifecycle from intake to execution and manage your entire project portfolio. Instead of providing ad hoc access to those who simply want to manage a project, you can create a fully scalable and organization wide portfolio management solution where the project approval process is structured and automated, projects are created in a uniform way, and reporting is no longer a labor intensive task. All and all it will save your organization time and money which can be spend on the stuff which really matters to your organization.
Want to see it in action, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free demo!