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project-portfolio-update

Portfolio 2.0: automated Alerts and a better overview

6 min read

Project managers have a lot on their plate, they need to keep a close eye on a lot of things, and they should never lose sight of the bigger picture. Our project portfolio is designed to increasingly reduce the workload of project managers, to automate as much as possible and to reliably point out critical deviations. With our new update, you get a more detailed overview and helpful alerts, informing you immediately as soon as problems occur in one of your projects. Plus, we'll reveal what project management features are still on the horizon for this year.

The goal of a project manager is to successfully complete projects - on time, on budget, and to the agreed-upon scope.

The three goal dimensions of project management are called the "magic triangle" for a reason. It sometimes feels like some magic has to be cast to keep from crossing these boundaries. There are many benchmarks to keep track of and unpredictable changes to be reconciled with the plan, and all of this must happen on an ongoing basis.

Task management tools do help keep the requirements neatly in place, but planning and monitoring the project is still a huge challenge that requires some discipline from project managers.

What we have in mind for our project portfolios is meant to make project managers' work easier, because: nobody can cover all the bases at all times. The goals we have set for our portfolio management are therefore: a reliable tracking to help monitor the goals, a conscientious automation of the most important check-ups and a transparent overview of all ongoing projects. The automatic checks in particular will ensure that you don't miss any critical deviations and that you are able to react immediately as soon as they become apparent.

Our latest update comes with the following functions:

Advanced project details: observers + milestones

Observer for project details

Previously, users could only view their own projects in the portfolios. That means, in order to have access to the project overview via the portfolio, you also had to be a member of the corresponding project room.

In the end, however, in project management it is not always just "black or white": we know that there are also stakeholders who, although not directly involved in project implementation and therefore not allowed unrestricted access to all content, have a legitimate interest in the progress of individual projects. This could be the customer. But it could also be a colleague who manages his or her own projects and has to schedule resources in alignment with other ongoing projects in the company according to available capacity.

For this reason, you can now add observers to project overviews. Observers can only access the project overviews via the portfolios, but they have no access to the respective rooms. Of course, actual room contents, such as those provided within all modules or settings, are not available to them, being observers only.

Observers

All observers added to a project can be viewed within the project portfolio from now on.

Quick view of all milestones

Milestones give you a pretty good idea of where the project is right now and whether it is on track.

For this reason, the timeline within the project details will now illustrate all the milestones that have been set for a project directly. With a mouse-over, you will see the actual due date of the milestones, allowing you to better review the progress of the current project.

Depending on the status, you will find the milestones highlighted in different colors, indicating whether there have been any problems during the course of the project:

  • Green milestones: completed
  • Red milestones: overdue
  • Pink milestones: without or with future due date
  • Milestones

    At the top of the view, Stackfield also provides you with a hint on how many milestones are currently open. Clicking on it opens a window that once again lists all the project's milestones along with their status and due date.

    Open milestones

    In addition, authorized members can directly access the respective milestones via this listing for clicking on the respective milestone opens the corresponding task card.

    Extended portfolio details

    With our premium update, we already added some features to Stackfield last year that allow you to keep a better overview of all your projects. In addition to the extended project overview within the project rooms, this also included the global project portfolio, that shows all projects within the organization that you are involved in, along with the most important key data. With the help of the project portfolio, you can monitor multiple projects running in parallel, considerably simplifying their simultaneous coordination.

    So far, the following details could be displayed within the project portfolios:

    • Project (title)
    • Start
    • End
    • Progress
    • Priority
    • Status
    • Managers
    • Time Budget

    To make the portfolio view even more useful, we've added some additional options to the key data shown so you can add or deselect them as needed:

    Portfolio key details
    • Observers: shows all users who have access to the project's details overview without being an actual member of the project room
    • Status Message: shows the manually deposited status update
    • Closed - Tasks: shows the number of all tasks already completed within a project
    • Overdue - Tasks: shows the number of all tasks of a project that have exceeded their due date
    • Planned - Tasks: shows the number of all tasks that have been assigned a due date and have not yet exceeded it
    • No Due Date - Tasks: shows the number of all tasks that have no due date
    • Tracked Time: shows the number of working hours that have been logged during the project
    • Time spent: shows the portion of the specified time budget that has not yet been spent vs. the time that has been logged already
    • Tasks Done: reflects the number of all tasks that have already been completed

    Adding and removing the key data columns still works via the "MORE" button located just below the "+" button in the upper right corner of the view.

    More overview in the portfolio grid

    In the portfolio view, you will find all projects of an organization, regardless of their status, by default. Especially in companies with a large number of projects you don't want the view to become complicated and confusing. For this reason, inactive projects will be grayed out and marked "not active" in future. This affects all projects that have already been completed (status: Completed) or those that are not being pursued further for now (status: On hold).

    Inactive project

    By graying out inactive projects, the view will highlight all projects that are currently relevant - hence active - making it easier for you to keep track of what's going on.

    Alerts for deviations

    There might be some situations where the project is in danger of going astray between the start and the end of the project and sometimes those situations occure rather often. Therefore, progress and adherence to the project plan must be continuously monitored. Not an easy task, which is why project-specific alerts now assist with this task.

    A quick glance at the project portfolio shows you whether problems have occurred in any of the projects. If there are warnings, you will find a red warning icon (exclamation mark) right before the project title.

    Warning icon

    By clicking on the project you will find more detailed information about all existing warnings in the header of the project detail overview.

    Alerts in project details

    Stackfield alerts whenever:

    • the time frame set for the project has been exceeded
    • the specified time budget has been used up
    • the project has been manually assigned a status "At Risk"" or "Problematic"
    • there are milestones without a due date
    • there are milestones scheduled beyond the defined project timeframe
    • Milestones exceed their due date and have not yet been completed
    • the project start date has been reached, but the project status is still "Not Started"
    • the project status has not been updated for more than 7 days

    These features come after

    The new project portfolio features are just a small part of what's in store at Stackfield to make project work more convenient and easier. What comes after that is intended to make project tracking even clearer, while automating as many of a project manager's regular checks as possible and also further supporting project planning.

    Global Gantt: Project portfolios will be further enhanced over the coming year with a Gantt view, designed to further simplify the (regular) coordination of multiple projects. In this way, you can plan resources better and make efficient use of opportunities that arise from synergies.

    Advanced time management: In addition to better support for project scheduling via a global Gantt Chart, the roadmap also includes a feature for more detailed planning of working hours in the course of project implementation.

    Customizable anomaly detection: The alerts Stackfield sends out about project portfolios are to be expanded to include customizable alerts that specifically point out anomalies, similar to a long-term ECG. For example, Stackfield will send out alerts as soon as behavioral changes in task completion are noticed. This could be, for example, when a certain amount of tasks that had been completed on a daily basis during a set period of time suddenly no longer gets done, or when the percentage of uncompleted tasks suddenly increases instead of decreasing.

    Budget planning: Resource planning will be improved with functions for budget recording and control.

    Comprehensive project history: Last but not least, we want to expand the history for projects. In addition to the status history, you will be able to view all relevant changes to the project.

    As you can see, there is a lot on the to-do list for our team as well. Of course we will keep you informed about all updates and news on our blog, just as usual.

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    Lena Wimmer
    About the Author:
    Lena Wimmer is Product Marketing Manager at Stackfield. She is passionate about American literary history, great content and cinematography.
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