Being a visual person, I love the idea of charts, views and graphs. These tools make it easy to tell your story at a glance.  Are our projects in good health? Do we need more resources to accomplish our goals? Is our risk level above our threshold?

The primary example of this sort of reporting is the RAG (Red Amber Green) report.  Many of our clients choose to display this in Project Center, where the view can be grouped by color, sorted, and filtered as needed. Let’s start with that scenario.

You can choose to set up whatever health fields you want. Some groups want only one basic project health field.  Others like to drill down, and have separate health fields for Schedule, Budget, etc.

Often, the next step is to choose icons to display in Project Center and in the Project Schedule. This is where our first Best Practice comes in.

BP1: Consider the possibility of color blindness in your audience when choosing your icons.  Color blindness is more prevalent in men than in women. 8% of men live with some amount of color blindness. Therefore, Best Practice 1 is to choose different shapes to go with the different colors.

The second item to consider is how these values will display in Excel charts and other visual displays.  Remember, only the name of the value will be exported with the data (i.e., “Green”, “Yellow”, “Red”).  The display icons chosen within PWA will not export. Now, here’s the gotcha. In the rapidly expanding world of BI tools, some allow you to map chart colors to values, some do not. That makes it easy to present this visually confusing solution:

So, our second Best Practice is:

BP2: Best Practice 2 is to use meaningful terms to describe project health, rather than color…”High Risk”, “Moderate Risk”, “Little or No Risk”; “At Risk”, “Some Issues”, “Healthy”.  Note this practice doesn’t prevent you from using the traditional RAG colors in your displays, it just makes it easier to produce reports from them.

Want to learn more about our approach to BI?  Take a look at our Business Intelligence page: