A dashboard is a business tool used to get a high level general view of the status of the business. Dash boards are used to monitor the status of key performance indicators of a business. Dashboards use visual, at-a-glance displays of critical data pulled in from disparate business systems to provide warnings, action notices, next steps, and summaries of business conditions.
Specialized dashboards can track all corporate functions. Examples
include human resources, recruiting, sales, marketing, operations,
security, information technology, project management, customer
relationship management and many more departmental dashboards. Scorecards are a subset of dashboards with fewer graphics and more text. Like the scorecard you would see in a ball game.
The key to an effective dashboard is to allow any stakeholder in a
business to see their results at an effective level of detail without a
lot of distraction about what doesn’t concern them for their job at
hand. They need to quickly see what they need to do in order to get
their job done. To be most effective a dashboard should allow a user to
drill up or down to the level of detail they want to see in what
created the current state in their view of the dashboard.
Key Performance Indicators (PKI)
Dashboards do not exist in a vacuum. Dashboards depend on having
data collected by the other business systems in place in an
organization. In order for a dashboard to be effective Key Performance
Indicators (PKI) must be collected at regular intervals.
Key Performance Indicators are quantifiable measurements, agreed to
beforehand, that reflect the critical success factors of an
organization. They will differ depending on the organization.
A middle ware process performs analysis on these PKIs and publishes
this data to the Dashboard. The data is pulled out of all the systems
that has the data at regular intervals and published to the PKI
database. The PKI data base is an important tool that can be used to
perform historical analysis of the data.
An important thing to consider is how reliable these performance
indicators are. If the numbers being generated are either inaccurate,
or have a bias, then any reporting being done based on these numbers
will be incorrect.
The same mechanism that is being used to update the dashboard can be
used to generate and publish Reports and numerous other warnings and
alerts, including email, pages, screen pop ups, and instant messenger
messages. It can also take independent action for the enterprise and
report on the results of those actions.
Digital dashboards and the PKI collection systems that are behind
them are being interfaced into Autonomic Computing efforts by many big
companies, such as IBM, HP, Sun and Cisco. IBM coined the term
“Autonomic Computing.” HP calls it an “adaptive enterprise” strategy.
Microsoft speaks of their “Dynamic Systems Initiative”.
Once you have collected the information and created processes to
happen when certain information is present, then it seems a shame to not
respond to that information automatically, with humans just supervising
Put simply, Autonomic Computing is about enabling enterprises to
handle and manage an ever increasing complex environment consisting of
software, hardware and communication infrastructure with fewer and fewer
and ever more scarce and costly resources and especially specialist
people. Or in other words: how to do more work with fewer resources.
This means that there is a need to have systems that, according to
IBM & others, are self-managed, self-healing, self-organized, that
are ultra-reliable, robust, and so on. You may be interested to visit
the IBM web page to read about the Autonomic Computing Manifesto. But we
hasten to add that there are many players in this novel area, e.g. SUN
and Microsoft, and HP:
Key Performance Indicator Web Resources
Autonomic Web Site Resources
Dashboard Web Site Resources
For a collection of enterprise dashboard screenshots see The Dashboard Spy a blog dedicated to monitoring digital dashboards.
This is an associated web site to The Dashboard Spy Called Enterprise Dashboard
Giving The Boss The Big Picture - Business Week
This article is an excerpt from the book Performance Dashboards:
Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business by Wayne W. Eckerson
Scorecards and Dashboards Portal
Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Portal
Driving ahead with Enterprise Dashboards
Enterprise Dashboards: Design and Best Practices for IT
The design issues with visual communication in a Dashboard
Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data
Creating Effective Graphs by Naomi-Robbins
Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten
Many of the Tuftle books are good at describing how to present data in an easy to understand attractive manner
What to measure for an average business
Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business
What to measure in a marketing business
Marketing Metrics: 50+ Metrics Every Executive Should Master
“Marketing by The Dashboard Light” by Pat LaPointe
Other books from amazon with a “dashboard metrics” keyword match