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What are RAG Ratings for a Project Management Dashboard?

Updated: Mar 13

In product management there is something called RAG status which means, is the status of a Project Red, Amber, or Green? Is the project delayed meaning an Amber status, or is it behind (Red Status)?


The users I have talked to want to have an Excel table view replicated in Tableau for this use case. Will Perkins, Tableau Social Ambassador, advices that one of the issues with RAG is that sometimes your Green category is not well defined. It can simply mean the status is not in Amber or Red.


The colors for this use case are often traffic light colors. The issue is that up to 10% of men are red/amber/green color blind (article here). You don't want to automatically create something and exclude a portion of the population! Tableau Visionary Adam Mico recommended this article called "The end of traffic light dashboards" by Kat Greenbrook regarding this subject.


Tableau has a Color Blind palette where the green is replaced with a blue. Your clients may not like this idea. Tableau Visionary, Sarah Bartlett recommends that you can use different color intensities for this use case; like a dark red, medium orange and light green. Adam Mico advises he uses coral for red or #FF6F61 and #FFD700 for yellow (when needed) and #004c4c.


I find the color palette from this article from Visualizing Data a great alternative.


Image from "5 Ways to Design for Red Green Colour blindness" Visualizing Data article


You can add this color palette using the Preferences.tps file located in your Tableau Repository folder. Simply open your Preferences file with an application like Notepad. Insert the following lines after <workbook><preferences>


<color-palette name="Alternate RAG Palette"type="regular">

<color>#db4325</color>

<color>#eda247</color>

<color>#e6e1bc</color>

<color>#57c4ad</color>

<color>#006164</color>

</color-palette>


Make sure the next line has the next color palette name.

Then in your Tableau workbook, you will need to refresh the colors on the Edit Colors pop-up menu. Learn Tableau has a step by step article here if you need it.


I wanted to show you this color palette in action, so I added it to my Details dashboard in my Beginner to Pop workbook in Tableau Public here (Click on the Details icon in the left-hand menu to view it.) The information lab also has an article here that shows you how to apply a conditional formatting to cells and create a similar view to my example below.



Let's talk about those Excel Project Management examples that you may be asked to replicate in Tableau. I picked a couple of examples online and will review the advantages and disadvantages of those views.


Example 1


Here is an example of one of the Excel template for Project management view from plannertemplatefree.com:


Advantages to this view: This is a fairly simplistic view of tasks. I like the use of bar chart to visually show you the percent of status for the task. I like that it has when the data was last updated at the top.


Disadvantages to this view: Notice the Low (cell D10) has a color of green but the rank arrow for this is red. This is visually misleading. Jane also has a status of Pending but no details for her tasks.


My question is, why not take this visualization one step further? What other Metrics do your clients need? Can rank be a number and can priority be a shape in a specific color? What about how many days over they were after task is completed and why? Bottom line is that you can include more information than the simple table view above.


Data Recommendation: In the past I have recommended to Project Managers that they use SharePoint lists so that the users can update the data and any notes justifying delays. You can set the server to 15 minute increment refreshes. (Cloud may change this set up. )


Example 2


Here is another example from getguru.com


Advantages to this view: Gantt Bars are great charts to use for Project management and show you level of effort over time. Additionally, having the Status as colored cell in the visual above, will help draw your user's attention to the Task.


Disadvantages to this view: Pie charts are not great without labels. A 3D pie chart causes further distortion. Anything on the top part of the pie chart will seem larger if you had a similar slice sizes. Can you visually tell a difference between a slice that is 24% and a slice that is 27%? You will almost always need labels in Pie Charts. The 3D bar chart also has distortion, which can make it harder to accurately compare the values of the bars. It also adds complexity to the chart that is not needed. I would not recommend using 3D charts in a dashboard.


You can create both of the Excel template views above in Tableau but you can take them one step further. For the first example I would recommend creating the Table with the Min(0) columns as I show you how to do in my blog article "So Your Client Wants a Table in Your Dashboard" here. I would also recommend adding other visualizations like the second example does so you can capture other aspects of the Project.


If you want some great examples of Project Management dashboards, I would recommend the following from Tableau Public;




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