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Masooma Memon

Clearing the Fog: How to Improve Project Visibility

Achieving project success hinges on project visibility. Learn how to improve it in our recent guide.

Between satisfying stakeholders and getting different projects to the finish line, one thing always gets the backseat: project visibility. 

After all, sharing status updates with clients and responding to your team’s questions related to the project while tracking progress is more important than making sure all project data is accessible to everyone, right?

But here’s the thing: deprioritizing project visibility is exactly what is adding repetitive work to your plate. Improving it, however, makes sure:

  • The project team doesn’t come to you with the same questions again and again
  • Status update reports are automated and everyone is aligned on the project plan and timeline
  • The project itself stays on track — both in terms of its scope and the agreed budget 

Most of all, high-level project visibility guarantees project success. 

Want to create a project visibility plan for your organization? We’ve got just the blueprint for you in this guide. 

What is project visibility?

Project visibility is the way you organize information related to a project so that all team members, project managers, and project stakeholders can get a full overview.

Meaning: true project visibility ensures all key players involved in a project can see the project’s progress, understand who is working on what, and revisit project goals and scope anytime they want.

For example:

  • Clients can review project scope and deliverables as well as track milestones 
  • Managers can detect project risks or budget and scope changes while tracking project progress
  • And team members can see the work required from them alongside their deadlines

Why is visibility important in project management?

Project visibility is key to a project’s success.

Without it, your team throws darts in the dark — hoping they land the mark. Success achieved this way is rarely ever long-lived though.

However, by making all project data readily available in a central hub, you can guarantee everyone has the information they need to do their best work. In turn, this ensures long-term organizational success — not just project success.

In fact, project visibility contributes to effective project management in other ways too. Here’s a rundown:

  • Better resource allocation. When you’ve adequate project and resource information available, you can easily decide who the right people are for working on the project. This further makes sure all project deliverables are high-quality.
  • Minimize the odds of project delays and other potential risks. Thanks to visual progress updates and regular project status reporting (both are essential parts of achieving project visibility), you can catch setbacks in time and take corrective measures before it’s too late.
  • Improve work productivity. 83% of employees recreate documents if they can’t find them on their company network — increasing repeat work and compromising team productivity. Project visibility, however, reduces repetitive work like this, saving your organization’s time. It also improves your team’s odds of meeting project deadlines, further contributing to project success and overall business growth.
  • Better employee morale. Because you carefully assign projects to employees based on their expertise and interest, you increase employee morale. What’s more, streamlined workflows, easily navigable documentation, and clarity around work expectations reduce confusion, giving employees a clear project roadmap. All this boosts employee productivity and satisfaction.
  • Higher client satisfaction. Project visibility ensures you’re on top of all the moving project pieces including any possible scope changes. In turn, you’re able to clearly communicate project updates with stakeholders, which improves their work experience with you. 

Dive deeper: All You Need to Know About Project Risk Management.

Why is project visibility challenging to achieve?

Common culprits include a lack of documentation, data democracy, and integrated workflows with a huge sprinkling of team silos.

Here’s how they contribute to limiting project visibility:

1. Team silos

Lack of communication and bonding between teams typically blocks the free flow of information that you need to improve project visibility.

What happens is simple: pieces of project information get locked behind specific teams.

Say, the resource team sits on intel on project resources, whereas, the dedicated project manager keeps information about project scope and timeline. Beyond their initial collaboration, the project team has little insight into which resources are due and off or won’t be available for achieving a certain project milestone, leading to poor visibility. 

2. Lack of an integrated toolkit

Different teams using different tools blocks information in various software. Again, with information residing in silos, achieving project visibility becomes a challenge.

For instance, when resource and project teams use different software or ones that aren’t integrated, each team prevents the other from access to project-related information.

In fact, getting access to a piece of information related to a project would take hours, if not days — not to mention the unnecessary email exchanges.

However, this wouldn’t be the case if teams used an integrated workflow or a one-in-all project and resource management software that centralized data in one common hub, making project information accessible to all. 

3. Poor project planning

When projects kick off without comprehensive planning about their goals, scope, timeline, milestones, and resources, getting project visibility becomes almost impossible.

If anything, poorly defined project goals and scope jeopardizes optimal resource allocation. It also breeds confusion with the lack of clarity for all parties including the project team that isn’t clear about ‘what’ is expected of them and by ‘when.’

Keep in mind: if you spend ample time on project planning but lack uniform project workflows and processes, you’ll again find it challenging to achieve full project visibility. Why? Because the lack of uniform processes then births a lack of clarity regarding ‘how’ to do the work.

 Dive deeper: A Complete Guide to Work Management (Including Benefits, Steps & Tools Needed)

4. Lack of documentation

Locking project details in email threads or making mental notes about the project charter and requirements does little for providing visibility into the project.

Sure, your understanding with stakeholders around the project goals and scope is crucial for a project’s success. However, you need to document that information to make it available to all stakeholders, the project management team as well as the project team.

Documenting this information also improves team collaboration and prevents any confusion with clients who agree to the scope in writing. 

5. Lack of data democracy

If access to project information is limited to only a handful of people or only a dedicated project manager, it risks both effective collaboration and project visibility.

In fact, if the person gatekeeping the project data goes on vacation, any shred of project visibility sinks altogether.

What’s more, if the said person/team manually documents information, it won’t get updated, which eventually leads to outdated project documentation. The result? Project visibility takes another significant hit.

How to bring your project visibility to the next level

Now that you know what’s preventing you from attaining trust project visibility, let’s look at how you can correct the culprits to boost project data accessibility: 

1. Create a streamlined workflow

Project workflows set expectations and give clarity around who is to work on what, by when, and who will take the project to the next stage.

Not only that but by bringing your team on the same page, everyone learns how to best do their work — minimizing repeat work and resource wastage.

To get started with creating a workflow for similar projects, scour your project data analytics to review data from past and running projects.

Lay out the steps you and your team took to complete projects to the finish line. This will give you a list of steps that you typically take to complete different types of projects.

Use this step-by-step breakdown as your general project workflow skeleton.

As new projects come in, open this general workflow skeleton to personalize it for the specific project. 

Then, add individual team members’ responsibilities under each step in the workflow. At the same time, add a timeline for each project phase — simultaneously assigning deadlines to team members for the work they’re responsible for.

2. Get your documentation straight

A whopping 97% of organizations have minimal to no digital documentation according to Adobe. 72% use a mix of digital and paper-based documentation.

The problem here?

One, you need thorough documentation to increase project visibility. And two, you need to make sure it’s digital documentation so it’s easily accessible to all team members plus it’s easy to maintain.

Admittedly though, documenting your processes, work style, and project details can feel like a lot of work. However, it pays dividends by reducing repeat work, streamlining communication, and overall boosting project efficiency — making it all worth the effort.

You’ll need documents falling under two broad categories:

Workflow and tools documentation:

  • Workflow and processes document (read: ‘how we work’ docs)
  • Tools we use (and how to use them docs with short explainer videos)
  • Resource inventory (covering each employee’s skills, interests, and availability)

Project-specific documentation:

  • Project scope
  • Project risks
  • Project timeline and milestone
  • Roles and responsibilities

Make sure all your documentation is easy to consume — whether you use short videos, text, or a combination of both formats for accessibility and consider using an online video editor for seamless video content creation.

3. Use the right tools

The right tools work wonders for increasing project visibility.

For example, a robust project management tool offers visibility by:

  • Breaking down project tasks 
  • Creating quality control checklists for each project stage
  • Charting out (and getting a visual representation of) the project timeline and milestone
  • Assigning work to different project team members with deadlines
  • Making all project information such as goals and scopes available in one place

Similarly, a resource management software provides project visibility by: 

  • Offering a resource inventory that shows employee viability and expertise, telling you who is the right fit for the project
  • Telling you when a project team member is due an off so you can save the project from delays

The key, however, isn’t in using the right tools alone. Instead, high-level project visibility comes from integrating your toolkit so different teams can access the data they need from another team for planning and successfully executing projects.

Let’s say a project manager needs information about employees available to work on a new project in the pipeline. By having access to the employee inventory, the project manager can quickly and easily create a team for the new project.

The good news? You can achieve such project visibility both by integrating your tools or by using Runn, a software that lets you manage resources and projects in one place. 

4. Create a single source of truth for all project data

Integrating your tools or using one software for both project and resource management helps you break barriers between teams. With the siloes gone, information flows freely, promoting project visibility.

It’s also equally important teams host all their documentation in one place. This makes information accessible and easy to navigate — reducing requests for ‘where can I find this information’ on managers.

5. Create a project communication plan

Lastly, create a communication plan for your team that identifies:

  • When you’ll update each other
  • What should your updates include
  • Where will the team shares updates
  • Who will initiate communication

If you’re a fully remote team valuing deep work like us,  you’ll also benefit from identifying ‘when it’s okay to call for a team meeting’ in your communication plan.

Make sure you point out which communication tool you’ll use as well. This will ensure your communication isn’t scattered across different channels like email, your project management software, and team comms tool such as Slack.

The idea here is simple: create a blueprint for productive meetings to save everyone’s time. 

How can Runn help you get project visibility? 

Runn assists in planning projects and resources in one place, as Dovetail’s co-founder and managing partner, Nick Frandsen says:

“An amazing tool that has transformed the way we plan, schedule, and forecast our people and projects.”

It lets you:

  • See all projects in one place
  • Automate project status reports
  • Tracke all upcoming project milestones and phases
  • Manage project budgets (and see if you’re going above the planned benchmark)

The best part though? Runn auto-updates details, which helps you plan better. For instance, if there are new projects in your pipeline and you’re unsure how they’ll fit into your team’s current workloads, you can create tentative plans in Runn.

These plans give you full visibility into how the workload will look once the project comes in, boosting work efficiency:

To boot, by giving you a birds-eye view of your employees’ availability, Runn saves you from resource clashes and overloading team members beyond their work capacity.

Ready to create true project visibility?

Remember to: 

  • Create a streamlined workflow
  • Dedicate time to project planning
  • Document your processes

Most of all, break down barriers between teams that make project data inaccessible. Using the right tools saves from silos.

Want to improve project visibility today? Use Runn to manage all your project and resources in one place. Give it a free try today

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