Explorative study into the design and use of visual reporting systems in project and programme management environments
Project and programme management environments are extremely challenging, dynamic places to work. Understanding issues and correcting poor performance is crucial to the successful achievement of project/programme objectives, yet many organisations struggle to develop reporting systems that are efficient and still provide accurate insight. In response to this problem, this thesis describes collaborative academic-industrial research into the use of a visually-based poster-size reporting system, referred to as the Dashboard. Given the exploratory nature of the research, a grounded theory, case study methodology was selected. Two case studies are presented: one at programme level involving a national utilities and roadside recovery organisation and one at project level, conducted with a support services company. The case studies were conducted over 20 and 9 month periods respectively. Data was collected from a number of sources including formal and informal interviews, workshops, company documentation, researcher diaries and for the second case study, through action research. The Researcher found that a visual reporting system is an effective way of reporting status and performance, though is better suited to programme rather than project management environments. Specifically, it is effective as a communications and knowledge transfer mechanism to both internal and external stakeholders. Secondly, the visual approach can leverage mechanisms for developing trusting relationships between stakeholders, which could lead to more effective team working. 'Mese findings are important as they address common reasons for project failure. Finally, the type of organisational culture has been shown to have a significant impact in the longer-term success of a visual reporting system. Where there is a culture of blame, of protecting information or where participative management practices are not embraced, the visual approach is unlikely to be successful beyond providing performance visibility and remedying actions in the short-term.