Visualization in Projects – Recommendations

Data visualization can help project teams envision projects progress, success, failure, risks… It enables users to create, view and manipulate data in more instinctive and effective way than with traditional reporting of just two-dimensions of columns and rows. It can be a powerful tool but we need practices in order to succeed with delivering the right message.

Data visualization in planning is actually a topic that hasn’t gotten much attention on regular project management trainings, but it is a fact that visual information helps users become better communicators. However, not many people use visualization in controlling, steering the project.

One of the processes that is especially important to data visualization is perception. Perception is not only the way you see or understand something, but also according to Cambridge Dictionary the “quality of being aware of things through the physical senses, especially sight”. You see something and you become aware of something in the way something is “regarded, understood, or interpreted”, which usually is intuitive, according to Oxford living dictionaries.

Our top-six recommendations for visualization practices in projects:

  1. Specify your objective for visualization – What do you want to accomplish? Status reporting? Or rather motivation?
  2. Make it action-oriented. Any project team member shall be able and allowed to change the visualization easily. It should be ready to use. People should want to change it, update it. For example, move from a status of ‘doing’ to ‘done’ or ‘on hold’.
  3. Make it messy. People should feel comfortable touching. Is it printed and too pretty? People wouldn’t change anything.
  4. Make it specific to the situation. The categories ‘working on’, ‘in progress’ etc. should mean something.
  5. Use different dimensions – colours and shapes to communicate different things.
  6. Make it interesting. People should want to look at it, read it.

Share your experience using visualization in projects

We are also curious and would love to know: How do you visualize complex projects?
How do you use visualization to help the project team…

  • track project timeline?
  • track progress?
  • plan estimates?
  • prioritize tasks?

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