The Best Way to Present a Global Project Status

I am very fortunate to have worked in small local projects and large global projects with varying challenges and uniqueness. This gives me the experience I needed to work on presenting the status update of different project types. It also gives me better insight on what works well and what doesn’t, which I will share with you in this post.

A very common method I’ve seen in most presentations is to present the project status in a table form, something like this:

project_status_example1

This is useful, but it is difficult to picture the overall status especially if the project is huge. So, before we hit the audience with a table of info that are often perceived as too detailed at first glance, it is a good idea to let them have a complete overview of the status – visually. And the best way to do this is to use a… MAP!

Take a look at this example of a SAP FICO deployment on a global scale:

project_status_example2

This overview shows the status of countries by region and highlights the number of fully deployed countries. Admittedly, project statuses can come in many states, e.g. “open”, “in progress”, “delayed”, “on hold”, “not in scope”, “completed”, “closed”, the list goes on, but you don’t want to overwhelm the audience just yet. Choose two or three ‘core’ statuses to present.

In this example, the audience are country business users and senior management who are only interested in what’s done and what’s not, so the ‘core’ statuses in this case is to show how many countries are fully deployed with the system (to make it more outstanding, put the numbers in), how many are still in pilot mode, and how many are not in scope for 2019 and are planned for the following year.

While the initial overview gives a good overall indication of how far we have progressed with the deployment, but not all of us are geographically savvy! So now is a good time to move on to something a little more detailed, i.e. show the stats and the country names, arranged in alphabetical order and grouped by its current status:

project_status_example3

We could stop right here. Or…we could present another visual breakdown of the country names and statuses by region, like this:

project_status_example4

What works well

So they say, a picture paints a thousand words. It’s not just a saying, in fact, it is backed by science that our brains tend to process something visual 60,000 times faster than plain text. This map does really convey the overall status of how far we have progressed with the project, and it does not leave the audience second-guessing on our current state. If you take this map and compare it side by side with the table of info, which one do you instantly ‘digest’? When using a map, remember to limit the statuses to primary ones, the need-to-know only, and colour-code them. Any other additional info can be presented at a later stage.

And what doesn’t

Presentation such as this is not meant to be a deep-dive unless your audience are mainly project managers and team members who need to know it all for resource planning and work scheduling purposes. If you intend to use this map for tracking purposes or internal discussions, you’ll end up with more questions from your team members, like, “which countries are not yet deployed and what are the issues?”, “which countries are delayed and what are the new deployment dates?”, “which countries have not completed the UAT?” and so on.

The catch…

Yikes! I hate to tell you this, there’s something else you should know if you want to use this method of presentation. It is TEDIOUS to maintain, especially if you need to update it every two weeks. You’ll need to check where Maldives or Timbuktu is before you update the map colour.

 

So ladies and gentlemen, before you jump on the map bandwagon, ask yourself two very important questions – who are the audience, and what is the objective of the presentation? The answers will help you determine how best to present what is essential and relevant to your audience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *