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Build a Powerful KPI Dashboard for Project Management to Boost Your Project Performance

Written by

James Watney

Last updated on

October 26, 2022

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As a project manager (PM), you’re expected to be on top of everything. When asked, you should always know the project status, pending tasks, and budget. But as you may already know, in the best-case scenario you’re handling two to three projects at the same time. 

You’re only human. You might confuse project information, especially when you need to check different project management apps to take a look at their progress. 

We know project management can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the most useful KPIs to keep track of and tools to create a KPI dashboard for project management so you can have a look at all your important targets in the same place. 

Table of contents 

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What is a KPI in project management?

KPIs are the most important metrics. Meeting them guarantees a successful project. Unlike regular metrics, key performance indicators measure progress against the desired goal. There are different types of key performance indicators in project management. These are: 

  • Financial indicators. This measures the success - or failure - of a project depending on how close the estimated budget was to the actual cost. Budget variations are common in projects, but some KPIs help you understand if those deviations could’ve been avoided or previously planned. Some examples are: 
  • Planned value (PV)
  • Actual cost (AC)
  • Earned value (EV)
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Budget variance (CV) 
  • Organisational indicators. These targets rate the success of your project in relation to your team structure. It’s important to review if you’ve allocated the right amount of people to complete this project. Some example KPIs are: 
  • Tasks completed by project and by person
  • Time spent on tasks per person
  • Resource capacity
  • Cycle time
  • Time-related indicators. These KPIs measure the success of your project by comparing it against the timeline estimation. Some example KPIs include:
  • Project schedule
  • Deadline adjustments
  • Cycle time
  • Team velocity
  • Sprint completion
  • Quality indicators. These data points review the satisfaction of the end user with the final project result. These indicate how well the project was done. Some KPIs that measure quality can be: 
  • Net promoter score (NPS)
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer complaints

Why a project KPI dashboard is worth your time

All projects go through changes. It’s impossible to foresee everything that will happen, but good project management should make close estimations of time, budget, and resources. Only by looking at your data, will you be able to gather insights and discover what’s working and what’s not. 

Building a sales KPI dashboard or a KPI dashboard for your startup seems necessary. Why not do it to review your project management metrics? It’s certainly not the same as reviewing progress in your task management software. 

Having access to a visually appealing, easy-to-read and digestible dashboard is crucial for busy project managers. If you work at a service agency, you’re probably managing two to five projects at a time and are probably using the client’s preferred task management tool. That means you need to open two to five different apps every time you need to get projects’ information. KPI dashboards allow you to have all your project information in the same place.

You can create an SQL database with all project information, and connect it to to have everything in one app. Some other reasons why you should create a KPI project management dashboard are to:

  • Review progress in an organised manner 
  • Have easy access to pending and urgent tasks across projects
  • Review your budget and trigger actions
  • Visualise your team’s capacity, keep mental health as a priority, and delegate when needed
  • Ensure you’re on the right path to meet your goals

7 KPI metrics for boosted project performance

Making a habit out of reviewing your project KPIs can help you reach milestones, have better project estimation and improve your project performance. Here are seven KPIs you can’t ignore. 

1. Project schedule 

Project schedules can come in different shapes and sizes. They can be a long backlog list of tasks to do, a Gantt diagram, or a work breakdown structure (WBS). 

A project schedule is a way of organising work on a project. The goal is to write a detailed list of tasks, duration, desired result, dependencies, estimated budget, resources, and risk analysis. Then, you make the list into a project timeline. 

Let’s say you’re launching a new feature on your company’s website. You’ll need to define:

  • What: the things that need to be done. I.e., getting budget and board approval, designing the UI/UX, developing and testing, designing and launching a marketing campaign for promotion, and measuring the performance of the new feature. 
  • When: how much time will it take you and your team to get ready to make the feature go live, get the approvals, and have the marketing campaign ready to launch? 
  • Who: which team members are crucial for this project? Do they have capacity? Do you need to get them out of other projects? Do you need to hire extra people?

Once you have a clear definition of the project, you can make the project schedule into your preferred planning tool. Then, you can measure the success of your project execution against your previously defined deadlines and deliverables.

Project schedule and gantt diagram example
Project schedules help project managers have a clear overview of pending tasks, priorities, and deadlines. 

2. Budget variance

This is an accounting term that’s mostly used for project management. Budget variance evaluates the estimated budget against the actual total money spent. 

It’s common to have some sort of variance in a budget. Small differences might mean that project estimations were equal or close to expectations, or that revenue was higher than planned. Bigger significant differences often reflect poor project management, leadership making the wrong decisions, or the PM not setting clear boundaries.

  • The formula used to calculate budget variance is:
    Total Expenses - Total Estimated Budget = Variance Amount 
  • To calculate the variance percentage, use this formula:
    Variance Amount ÷ Total Estimated Budget x 100 = Percent Variance.

Both the variance amount and percentage can be negative or positive. 

You can review this consistently throughout the project to see if you’re staying close to the budget line or if you need to cut some costs.

Budget variance chart example

When looking at project-associated costs, the actual line should be close the budget one. If there’s a large variance, you’ll need to cut costs.

3. Current project backlog

Current project backlog is a long list of highly specific tasks that are properly prioritised and assigned. This helps teams organise priorities and plan the scope of a project before working on those tasks in detail. 

Depending on the length of a project, the current backlog might not have all future tasks, but rather the most important ones. Then, PMs will build a specific to-do list for each determined period. In Agile projects, you can easily visualise the project backlog in Kanban or Scrum boards. 

You can add your backlog to your project management KPI dashboard as a percentage of completion or as a detailed list of the pending tasks for the day, week, or month.

Current product backlog visual example
Product and project backlogs work similarly. Current project backlog lists every pending task and is then added to the workflow depending on the priority to ensure timely completion. 
Source: Aha!

4. Labour costs spent per month

This KPI refers to costs associated with personnel and salaries. It includes benefits, taxes, and other country benefits like social security. To calculate this KPI, you should multiply the number of people who receive salaries and wages by the sum of gross and incidental costs. If your people have different wages. Then, you should use the formula individually, and then sum up all the results - like when you calculate a weighted average. 

For example, let's say you have 4 employees working on this project:

  • One of them earns $1,500 and you pay $700 extra associated costs.
  • Other two, earn $1,800 and you pay $840 extra associated costs each. 
  • The last one earns $2,500 and you pay $1,166 in associated costs.
Labour costs equation example

To calculate labour costs you should use this equation. Make sure you include all salary and incidental costs associated with personnel.

5. Current resource allocation 

Resource allocation is a project management practice that helps PMs assign tasks to team members. The best way to do and review current resource allocation is to add time estimates to each task. Then, check how many items and how much time you’ve assigned, and adjust accordingly. By having access to their availability, PMs can become more efficient in the way they manage their team’s workload to avoid under or overutilization. 

For example, by adding this KPI to your dashboard, you can visualise your team capacity as follows:

  • Employee #1 - 10 tasks assigned for the week. Estimated completion time 12 hours.
  • Employee #2 - 5 tasks assigned for the week. Estimated completion time 45 hours.
  • Employee #3 - 45 tasks assigned for the week. Estimated completion time 28 hours.

It’s important to review the number of tasks and estimated completion time because there isn’t always a direct link between volume and complexity.

The best way to know who you can allocate more work is by having a visual representation of their workload in your dashboard.
Source: Teamwork

6. Number of change requests

Change requests are formal petitions to alter the product, project, or system. Project managers are the only ones who know how changes will affect the project timeline, budget, and team capacity. Keeping track of the number of change requests is crucial since it can give you insights on the project. Too many change requests can mean: 

  • You have an indecisive leadership team
  • You’re not pushing back on changes
  • The team is not performing as expected
  • The project presentation lacked details.

Only by reviewing this can you know how much the budget, timeline, and team will be modified, and you’ll also learn how to do it better next time.

Change request chart across months

Recording the number of change requests is crucial for project management future estimations.

7. Time spent on project tasks

Similar to resource allocation, tracking the time spent on a task helps you understand how long your people are taking to complete each task. This KPI gives you a more precise assessment of team velocity and budget.

Time spent on a task is a metric that helps you understand how fast your team can finish a project. It also helps you ensure a healthy allocation throughout the project. To calculate this KPI you should use a time tracker.

Visualising this KPI on a dashboard will help you make decisions that will impact the project budget or timeline early in the process.

Using a time tracker is the best way to calculate time spent on tasks per person. This KPI allows you to improve project timing estimations. 
Source: Clockify.

How to choose a dashboard software to track project management KPIs

Before you set your mind on a BI tool to build your custom KPI project management dashboard, you should follow some steps according to this guide for BI dashboards

  1. Define your audience. Who’s going to use your dashboard? What type of answers do they need to find? It’s not the same to build a SaaS KPI dashboard as it is to build a marketing one.
  2. Choose a type of dashboard. Dashboards can be strategic, analytic, operational, or tactical, to name a few. Defining the one you’ll use will help you identify which KPIs to include.
  3. Determine the KPIs. Choose KPIs that are relevant, measurable, challenging, and useful for your audience.
  4. List the dashboard features that you need. Maybe you want to be able to create unlimited dashboards, drill-downs, stream it to a TV, or have granular security access. Make a list and look for a tool that matches your expectations.
  5. Define your budget. Determine how much you are willing to pay for a BI tool. Is this going to be allocated to your department’s budget? Is it a company-wide expense?

Choosing the right BI dashboard tool for your organisation

Once you’ve covered the previously mentioned steps, you can begin to choose the right tool for your business. Here are some of the best options. 

  • This truly no-code BI dashboard tool lets you create unlimited ad hoc queries and dashboards. It doesn’t come with templates because it’s fully customisable to your needs. It takes five minutes to set up and no time to onboard. is the best option for small businesses that want to get a tool that grows with them for the same price.

Want to see if would work for your team? Try it free for 2 weeks!

  • Klipfolio. This data analytics tool lets you create dashboards without needing to write any code. Also, Klipfolio integrates with over 100 different platforms so you might be able to connect directly to your project manager. The downside to Klipfolio is that its plans have user and data service limits.
  • Power BI. This is one of the most famous BI dashboards software. It’s a great solution for enterprise-level companies that have a data engineer team in charge of creating dashboards for other departments. It connects to several data sources and has great visualisations.  

Project management metrics and KPIs: Key takeaways

Measuring your KPIs is the only way you can evaluate your project performance, but handling different projects at a time can be exhausting and can lead to errors. Building a KPI dashboard to have an eye-catching overview look at your projects’ performance can help you and your team improve results. 

A KPI dashboard needs two things to be completed. Part one is a list of KPIs to track. Some of the ones you can’t miss are:

  • Budget-related metrics
  • Quality indicators
  • Organisation performance metrics
  • Timeliness indicators

The second part is finding the right dashboard tool to build interactive visualisations with your data. is one of your best options because it gives you full freedom to create the dashboards that you want. Plus, you can grant access to everyone on your team for the same price and can connect to almost any application using Zapier. is also highly scalable, lightweight, and remains at the same price as you grow.  

Want to see if would work for your team? Try it free for 2 weeks!

Frequently asked questions regarding KPI dashboards for project management

What are the five key performance indicators in project management? 

Project management can have several KPIs. Some of the most common ones are: 

  • Project schedule
  • Schedule performance index
  • Budget variance
  • Current project backlog
  • Time spent on tasks

How are KPIs measured in project management? 

Key performance indicators in project management are measured the same as in other practices. To measure them, you should set a target and review month over month to see how close or far away from the baseline your results are. 

What should be included in a project management dashboard? 

A KPI project management dashboard should contain crucial information about your projects. You can include budget, quality, performance, and timeliness KPIs. As well as pending tasks, team availability, and resource allocation data. 

Your data should be presented in a visual and colourful way.

How do I create a project management dashboard?

To create a project management dashboard, you should:

  1. Define who your audience is
  2. Define the goal of the dashboard
  3. Choose the right BI tool 
  4. Add your data sources
  5. List your KPIs
  6. Create your queries and graphics
  7. Add colours
  8. Share it with others to gather feedback

What is a schedule performance index?

Schedule performance index (SPI) is a ratio that reflects if a project is on time, delayed, or ahead of the planned schedule.