Get Our Atlassian for Project Managers Course
#1 Build a Project Dashboard
Project managers experience a weekly challenge trying to assimilate different status reports across a large project or a large program. You could be managing a program with multiple projects or a large project with multiple work streams – all of which require weekly status.
In this scenario, I’m using Confluence to build a very simple dashboard to pull relevant data specific to launch dates, project phases, and overall project status. In addition to the project status, I included individual status flags similar to the red, yellow, and green indicators that you typically get with schedule, budget, issues, and risks indicators.
In this example, I use a simple status report that has all the elements that you typically see in project status. The status report includes a sponsor, a lead, the project phase, and an overall launch date. If the project was red, I could put a go-to green plan. I also highlight what the major accomplishments are this week, as well as what’s being planned for this week.
In actual project execution, each of the project leads or project managers would complete a weekly status report within Confluence. I have different status reports, which may be red or yellow, or green, depending on the health of each project within the given program. In the example, we’re building out a corporate intranet, an order management system, and a call center implementation. All of these projects are part of a large program initiative and by simply changing the colors in the sub-pages, the dashboard will be updated.
Confluence Project Management Benefits
The benefit of this approach is real-time status reporting without having to fill out another Excel template or fill out a PowerPoint presentation. One of the challenges I always saw when implementing programs or even running a PMO is you are always chasing the latest version of the status. Even though you define checkpoints or endpoints as to when you need to receive those status reports, you’re always trying to fit in one last slide or one last Excel spreadsheet into the presentation for the rest of the executive team.
By consolidating your status reporting within Confluence, you can get real-time status. If anyone needs to make an update, they can go make the update in their respective status report.
#2 Tracking Project Action Items
Another way you can use Atlassian Confluence to manage your projects and programs is by using action items in Atlassian Confluence. Action items often come out of every project meeting and it’s always a pain to figure out who’s doing what, who is responsible, the timing for those next steps and even figuring out where the latest meeting minutes were stored.
Does that sound familiar?
In this example, I have rolled up all of the action items from other status reports or other meeting minute notes into one summary view. I can pull these together and quickly check-off the action items and determine if somebody completed their activity within a given point in time.
Within the team meeting minutes, there is a brief set of notes. For each note or task, you can tag an individual and briefly describe the action. Each action item can be assigned target dates. If the date is listed as red, it is because it is past the actual due date. Once the task is marked completed, the task will turn gray and the actual activity would be completed.
The task list isn’t constrained to project meeting minutes. In the example, there are steering committee meetings that also have action items and follow a slightly different format. In Confluence, any page can contain checklist items and you can assign a resource and assign a date. Confluence enables you to easily summarize all the action items across the Confluence space into one page.
I’ve used this technique on large projects and programs where there are a lot of people all working in different meetings and different workstreams. By using the task list solution, a common action item list is created for each team member’s review. In this approach, I also included the completed action items by using the Confluence Expand macro. Once an action item is completed, it will appear under the Completed Action Items section.
#3 Gantt Chart and Product Roadmap
In this Confluence for project management technique, you’ll learn how to create gantt charts and product roadmaps.
Atlassian Confluence creates easy to read Gantt chart for project managers and project stakeholders. The Roadmap macro is invaluable when building a very simple Gantt chart that executive management can understand as well as your project team. I include this roadmap format in every one of my presentations when I’m doing a project kickoff.
There’s a lot of different ways that you can build Gantt charts, you can use Microsoft Project, you can use SmartSheet, Ganter, and other tools. I’ve seen people use Excel to try to draw and build out these different views. There are pros and cons with each solution and I’ve found Confluence to be an easy to create Gantt chart solution.
By using the Roadmap macro, it’s really easy to make adjustments to each of the different workstreams in the project or program. You can use these different bars and you can change the duration by changing the length of those bars. It’s a very simple and easy drawing tool that allows you to identify milestone dates, add different lanes, and identify different phases.
You can convey the major phases of a program by color-coding them and you can organize the Gantt chart based on the workstreams in the project. The project manager can also assign individual milestones, which I find is always helpful as you’re trying to convey the product roadmap or Gantt chart easily.
If you try to do this in Excel or PowerPoint, you know what a pain it is to illustrate project dates in a tool that isn’t designed for project management. When you use these tools, you have to do more arts and charts in a tool that isn’t designed for arts and charts. The roadmap macro makes it easy to create Gantt charts as it’s designed to draw a timeline.
#4 Track Issues and Risks
At first glance, you see a simple table that allows project managers to keep track of opened and closed issues. The typical issue log contains the identified date, issue, description, and so on. It’s a typical issue log that you might build in Excel but the power is in the Confluence collaboration platform. By collaborating on a shared platform, the project manager doesn’t have to be the only one managing the issue or risk log. Any team member can go in and update the appropriate issues or risks.
Each issue can include the status macro to identify open or closed status. You can assign end dates, tag and assign resources as well as track how those issues and risks are progressing. if the issue is closed, you can either leave it within the table format or use the expand macro to view the opening closed issues.
If I have a closed issue, I just move it out of this table and I paste it below here. It’s a little more manual, but it’s another nice way to be able to look at just the open issues. All of this is being done with a native version of Atlassian Confluence. There are other paid macros and plugins that will allow you to sort and filter a table, but in this example, it’s using pure Atlassian Confluence to move, build and manage your issue and risks.
#5 Requirements Traceability Matrix
Another example of how to use Confluence for project management is to create a requirements traceability matrix. Atlassian Confluence actually provides a standard product template for requirements. That template is helpful and allows you to expand on the project requirements. The approach I like to use is to combine the requirements pages with a requirements traceability matrix.
If you are running an Agile project, you may be using JIRA to track detailed requirements. The product backlog can grow very large and deep. I find it’s important to relate the individual story back to the higher level requirements document. When you first start a project, you start documenting high-level requirements and you may not be ready to put those requirements into a product backlog immediately.
Think back to past requirement gathering sessions. During a user story writing workshop or discovery sessions, you collect a lot of notes. The results are not always neat and tidy and ready to populate in JIRA. I find it helpful to summarize your notes and putting them into a format that people can understand. These notes are the high-level requirements for the system that we’re building. You can then take those same requirements and decompose them as user stories within JIRA.
In the requirements traceability matrix, I’ve linked the JIRA tickets into the Confluence page. This way when something is actually completed, I can easily see the requirements traceability and confirm if the requirement was fully built in the solution. Adding a JIRA ticket to your Confluence page is easy to do. You can simply copy and paste the URL from JIRA or you can insert a JIRA filter macro and enter the JIRA key.
#6 1:1 Status Reports
This is a format I’ve used for years in 1:1 meetings. I used to create this in a Word document or a PowerPoint template for 1:1 status meetings. Since my team was executing in Confluence for project management, I started creating my own 1:1 status reports so I could incorporate other Confluence data.
In this template, I provide an update with each of the key projects in my portfolio, any key issues, risks and any upcoming information that isn’t covered by the other sections. I’ve also included other presentations or screenshots for relevant information that I want to review in my 1:1 meeting.
At the end of the year, I can easily review my list of 1:1 status reports and prepare for my annual review. Ofcourse all this status is confidential and you want to make sure you set the appropriate restrictions within your Confluence site.
More Confluence for Project Management Step By Step Tutorials
These are just 6 ways you can use Atlassian Confluence for Project Management. If you’d like to apply these techniques with a step by step tutorial, check out the step by step product guide and video course on how to manage projects and programs with Atlassian Confluence.
More Collaboration Resources
If you are considering collaborating on a shared platform, I also recommend reading the Ultimate Guide to Team Collaboration Software in 2021.