Gather and reporting data is the bread and butter of your project management office (PMO). It’ll be second nature to you and your team, but how can you train project managers to use reports and analysis, too?

Whether your PMO is there to drive the business forward or to provide support structures for your projects, you’ll be producing reports and data. This information will all feed into the decisions that get made by the C-suite, stakeholders, and your office.

To make sure that your data is reliable and the analysis accurate and relevant, we’re going to look at:

  • A breakdown of the types of reports your project managers need to know
  • Why your project managers need to know about analysis and writing
  • Your options for training these different skills to your project managers

What reporting does a project manager need to do?

Your project managers (PMs) have many roles, one of which is to report information about a range of factors on the project. These data points will relate either to their KPIs or those of the PMO, so accuracy is essential. There are different reports you can expect them to make.

Internally designed reports

Oftentimes, you don’t need to bring in outside software and tools to get the data you need. You can have spreadsheets and databases developed that will hold the information required.

Hopefully, you’ve migrated any paper reports to digital assets by now. This streamlines filling in data and stops the potential loss of miscommunication. There are still other risks with internal reports, such as budgets or team KPIs, which need to be resolved with training.

When you’ve got a bespoke report, form, or method of data collection, it’s up to the PMO to teach everyone how to use it. As intuitive as it may seem to the designer, you can’t expect your project managers to know how to complete the database or form exactly how you want.

Build online resources that can easily be referred to in the future. Having a guide side by side with the webpage or Excel sheet will make your training more accessible. Creating video content on a private YouTube channel showing screen recordings is another tech-savvy way to teach people about using your reports.

Off the shelf software

Choosing to use standard software to produce the data you require can have many benefits. Aside from being cheaper than internally developing tools, you may have people on your team already familiar with it.

Tools for task allocation like Asana or resource management like SAP are common across many industries so having some knowledge in your PM team isn’t unexpected. However, don’t rely on it because you may use the tools differently.

With externally provided tools, it’s reasonable to expect there to be documentation. This is information from the supplier about how to use their tools. Documentation is usually specially designed to teach about the product so it should be easier to roll out.

Train your PMs to use standard software reports using the content already available, complemented by online blogs, guides, and videos. Be sure that you focus training on the features your PMO uses – there are lots of things a software like SAP can do that you won’t need, so don’t let your PMs waste time reading about things they won’t need.

How to train project managers on analytics

As well as reporting information to your PMO about the project performance, it’s useful to have your PMs analyse it as well. Having raw data land in your office can be helpful in some contexts, but having an opinion and an overview of what it means will be useful.

PMs should be able to write a simple analysis of at least some of the reports they pass to you. This will stop the PMO from needing to give orders if issues can be spotted on the front line. For example, your PMs analysing whether a project is on track time-wise and why that is will save your PMO time and resources.

Consider bringing in an external training provider to teach analysis and writing. You could also send your PMs to a local college or training centre for longer-term classes on data analysis.

The take-home

Knowing how to train project managers in reporting and analysis relies on you understanding the tools they use. Bespoke reports and popular software will have different training starting points, and analysis will likely need professional training.