10 November 2018

Visualising Data

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This week’s webinar with PMO Flashmob was an opportunity to share some ideas with PMO professionals around how to engage senior stakeholders more with the insights they are providing.

Many were surprised when one of the polls during the session indicated that the most popular way of sharing information is via Microsoft PowerPoint.

I must admit that I didn’t find this surprising at all; as an independent consultant I find myself in many companies that just don’t think of any other ways to prepare for governance meetings or to share progress updates than to prepare pages of PowerPoint and email them to senior stakeholders already facing overflowing inboxes.

With my background in data analysis it’s something that I’ve been interested in for most of my career, and we have so many tools and techniques readily available to us these days that can help deliver information better – so what I am surprised at is the apparent lack of progress in this area.

There is a long-held belief that senior executives are wedded to paper; indeed one of the questions raised on the webinar was how to encourage them to consume more information online.

I observe many business travellers on my daily commute using their tablets or smartphones to consume news updates, the latest issue of their favourite magazine or to participate in virtual meetings – and not a piece of paper in sight.  Many hardly ever sit at a desk when they are in the office, such is the number of meetings they attend – in rooms with big screens and video conferencing facilities as standard. Instead of laptops they carry tablets to access the information they need.

So perhaps getting them to consume information online isn’t the challenge?

Even such an enthusiastic adopter of PPM solutions as me is fully prepared to acknowledge that they don’t make it easy to get information out in easily digestible formats – usually involving some supplementary Excel-based wrangling of the data. And once that data is back in Excel?  For many PMO professionals it’s often back to the “old” ways of producing and distributing reports to stakeholders.

Perhaps it’s a lack of inspiration for PMO professionals on how to visualise data differently, beyond the standard set of charts and models available in Excel and PowerPoint? 

So I’ll leave you with a couple of further resources to get you started:

  • this list of visualisations published by the Data Visualisation catalogue
  • my article on easing into data analytics for PMO Flashmob, now available via the House of PMO (membership required to view in full).