What Kind of a Business Dashboard Do You Have?

Is your dashboard an Operational, Tactical, or Strategic Dashboard?

This excellent article by Allan Wille of Klipfolio KPI Dashboards reminds us of how Wayne Eckerson’s Book “Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business
” (now in it’s second edition), categorizes performance dashboards into the 3 types of Operational, Tactical and Strategic dashboards.

This from Allan’s article:

In a nutshell, Wayne defines Operational Dashboards as being focused on exception alerting, based on real-time or transactional data. It’s up to the user or a script to then act upon this opportunity or issue. OK, I’m with him so far.

Tactical Dashboards display data that is not quite as real-time as operational dashboards, and are generally not evaluated against absolute conditions. Contextual information, and the ability to explore the data, tends to guide users to the decision process.

Strategic Dashboards, according to Wayne, track performance against high-level objectives. As a result, these dashboards tend to summarize performance over the past month, quarter, or year. Strategic objectives are usually also the result of many underlying metrics, and require social analysis to digest properly.

Wayne goes on to describe which dashboards tend to be the most popular, and which ones amass the most users. Five years ago, strategic dashboards captured the popularity vote (in the number of firms having deployed this type). However, with the growth of operational BI outpacing traditional BI, I wonder if it’s still in top spot. Certainly there is no question about which dashboards capture the greatest audience … you just need to follow the pyramid of employment to know that tactical and operational dashboards out-number strategic ones. Some of our customer deployments range in the tens of thousands.

No matter what you call them, performance dashboards are seeing incredible growth. And, as the accessibility, ease of use, self-service, and costs become more competitive, this trend is not likely to slow down.

Read more at this link:

Operational, tactical, strategic … what kind of dashboard do you have?

10 Guidelines for KPI Dashboard Design

KPI Dashboard Designers must read this excellent guide to ensuring successful KPI and dashboard design from Klipfolio KPI Dashboard.

klipfolio dashboard

1: Make sure they are important and related to the business – KPIs should be linked to strategic goals and be supported from the executive level through to departmental managers and individual employees. The KPIs have to drive the desired behaviour at the department and individual levels. Keep in mind KPIs are not only internally focused, but may be customer driven.

2: Make them actionable – Ensure that there is an owner that is accountable for each indicator who has the authority and necessary support to effect change or minimise impact. Establish accountability at the definition phase. It is not a good KPI if you are unable to take corrective action on one of your chosen KPIs.

3: They should be measured frequently – The frequency will vary on the KPI and may range from constantly, hourly, daily through to weekly monthly or even quarterly. KPIs that are only reviewed every month or quarter may be strategically important but are less critical to operational success.

4: Make them relevant to their audience – A dashboard provides relevance to its audience. Each department or individual should be provided with a view of the KPIs most relevant to their goals to focus their attention on what is most important for their jobs.

5: Keep dashboards simple, easy to interpret – Visual communication experts like Stephen Few have written extensively on how to properly design reports, charts, and graphs for quick and accurate consumption. Today, dashboard application have a myriad of visualisation options. It’s tempting, to get carried away with impressive graphical data, maps, speedometers etc. to represent performance against metrics “Hollywood style”. However, key information should be self evident and visible at all times so that exceptions can be seen and acted upon.

6: Provide context – Tracking actual performance against goals or historical averages gives insight to users and enables better decision management. The ability to alert users visually and provide drill-down views into the data provides insight and context on what corrective action may be required.

7: Education & communication – It is not enough to identify and provide visibility of KPIs. Users at all levels have to understand how they align with individual, departmental and strategic goals. Include education on the use of the dashboard application, the importance of the KPIs and how they align with strategic goals to new employees as part of the induction process.

8: The “K” in KPI stands for Key – It is important to determine if defined KPIs are really relevant to meeting strategic goals. All to often dashboards will adopt a if you can measure it, you should measure it approach where you end up looking at 20 or more competing KPIs. Are they the right metrics? Are there too many?

9: Return on investment – Following definition, ongoing measurement of KPIs can be a barrier to adoption if it is viewed as a time consuming manual process, the information is not trusted or readily available. KPI Dashboards automate the process; they enable business information to be acted upon and can be integrated into the workflow process, saving time. Improved decision making based on right time information rather than gut feel increases the productivity of individuals and departments .

10: Scope of deployment – Small pilot deployments should be used to work through definition, presentation and measurement of the selected KPI’s. Users will be advocates for adoption if they can see how the information improves their contribution to the strategic goals. Incremental steps, done really really well.

Written by Terry Brown of Klipfolio.com who is working on KPI Dashboards

Subway System Operational Management Dashboard

KPI Dashboards:

“Actual KPIs and metrics from real business cases! Real operations dashboards – That’s what we want examples of.” says a long-time reader of The Dashboard Spy who reminded me that I’ve gotten away from showing the nitty gritty details of business intelligence dashboards. She said that it’s all well and good that I’ve been pointing out design fundamentals and implementation best practices, but she misses the hard core “let’s see what other dashboard teams are working on” approach of the old Dashboard Spy days.

OK, I get the message. Let’s focus on more actual dashboards. Today we look at how the managers of the Singapore Subway system monitor the operational status of their trains, stations and other assets. How’s that for a specific business area of focus for us dashboard fans?

First, let’s take a quick journey to Singapore for a quick getaway before buckling down to some business intelligence.

The Mass Rapid Transit system (or MRT) of Singapore is currently composed of a total of 64 operating stations that serve a daily ridership of over 1.5 million people. There are plans for a large expansion project. Among rail buffs, the Singapore MRT system is of note in several areas. The stations are famous for being absolutely spotless. There are multiple train lines of the system, with the northeast line being completely underground using driverless trains. The platforms are sealed off from the tracks with safety screen doors to prevent access to the tracks and ensure climate control. The MRT is complemented by the LRT (Light Rail Transit). The LRT is close in spirit to people mover systems found in airports.

OK. Back to BI, metrics, KPIs and dashboard reports! Now let’s take a look at how they monitor their operations.

Thanks to the good graces of a Dashboard Spy located at the headquarters of Elixir Technology in Singapore, we have the following dashboard screenshots of the operations monitoring dashboard project. The dashboards are powered by Elixir Repertoire – a product for Dashboarding, Reporting, and Data ETL and Scheduling.

Here is the Command and Control Dashboard.

singapore MRT Command Control Dashboard

Click on the “more” link for more dashboard screenshots from this system as well additional commentary.

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Restaurant Chain Enterprise Dashboard – Screenshots of KPI views, Reports, User Alerts

Dashboard Topic:KPI Report Dashboards and Delivery of KPI Reports.

This series of executive dashboard screenshots from mirus.com focuses on multi-unit restaurant chain management. The first dashboard screenshot shows a layout of KPI portlets showing information like top 5 and bottom 5 coupons redeemed, store sales figures, DMA peformance (demographic marketing area), etc. The reporting dashboard screenshot is a straight-forward, old-school listing of summary rows with red/green/yellow traffic light indicators. The last screenshot shows the configuration of a user-defined alert being subscribed to for email delivery.

Enterprise dashboard

executive dashboard screenshot

business dashboard

Update: For an exciting state-of-the-art way of delivering KPI Reports, consider the “desktop delivery” model. Desktop widget or gadget style applications live at a level above the usual web-based dashboard. Take a look at how companies such as Klipfolio deliver KPI Reports. Rather than rely on a stack of paper reports that you may or may not get to, desktop dashboards bring the KPI metrics right to you when you power on your computer.

So what or who is The Dashboard Spy? As his about page states, The Dashboard Spy is just a guy interested in the design of enterprise dashboards. He could not find any executive dashboard design source books (or even screenshots of real business dashboards) and so set about creating his own. Finally convinced to post his extensive collection of dashboard screenshots online, he was amazed to find how popular it has become. If you have a nice screenshot of a digital dashboard, balanced scorecard, or any business intelligence graphic to share, please send an email to info _at_ dashboardspy.com. Also check out The Dashboard Spy's favorite books.

KPI Enterprise Dashboard – Administration/configuration screenshots

Dashboard Example: KPI Reports

The difference between the stack of regular reports you receive, and KPI reports, is that the latter actually measure something important and on which you can actually affect change. Put those KPI reports on a digital dashboard and you really have a powerful business tool.

Let’s have a “behind the scenes” look at a dashboard.

It is always great to see how dashboards get configured – both from the point of view of what visual styles to show and what levels trigger the alarms. There is a walkthrough of an enterprise dashboard at http://www.iolap.com/products/dashboard.htm that gives a look at the administration screenshots. This material is good to study for administration ideas – whether you use an out-of-the-box dashboard package or you are building a custom dashboard application yourself, you need to deal with configuration and user preferences. I assume that the choice of visual styles is an admin function, but do you think that setting alarm levels (see screen below) is done by each individual user? If so, that's a nice way to let the user customize their own dashboard.

executive dashboard

Enterprise dashboard screenshot

digital dashboard screenshot

business dashboard

So what or who is The Dashboard Spy? As his about page states, The Dashboard Spy is just a guy interested in the design of business dashboards. He could not find any executive dashboard design source books and so set about creating his own. Finally convinced to post his extensive collection of dashboard screenshots online, he was amazed to find how popular it has become. If you have a nice screenshot of an enterprise dashboard, balanced scorecard, or any business intelligence graphic to share, please send an email to info _at_ dashboardspy.com. Also check out The Dashboard Spy's favorite books.

Pick a KPI, any KPI – Using visual size and color to show trending data on dashboards

Dashboard Spy Topic: KPI Reports (Key Performance Indicators)

Here is an interesting series of KPI report screens from http://www.iexecutivedashboard.com/screens.htm. Note how the Executive Dashboard product handles the past and future trends for the indicators. Also see how the users can set their own configuration preferences. It’s always interesting to see how a dashboard application handles KPI configuration.

Past and Future Trends Dashboard
Dashboard Screen: The dashboard page displays the overall health of key performance indicators. Each box represents a key performance indicator (KPI) and the health for corresponding periods. The default executive dashboard shown can be unique to the individual logged in, or shared by the entire organization.

View Indicator 
View Screen: The View screen gives a snapshot picture of the key performance indicator (KPI). Charts display supporting data, while text details the criteria and justification for each KPI.

View Indicator
Design Screen: The design screen allows all elements of a key performance indicator (KPI) to be customized, including sub-indicators, charts, measures, criteria, and display properties.

Edit Indicator 
Edit Screen: The Edit screen displays the data and projections for the given key performance indicator – KPI. Rationale, justification, and overrides can be entered here.

Reports
Reports: Each dashboard can be produced as a report utilizing custom templates. Quick searches are also available for key performance indicators meeting specific criteria.

Design Dashboard 
Design Report Screen: The Design Report screen provides a means to format both the online and printed report. Titles, indicators, and groups of indicators are easily added or removed using drag and drop functionality from the web.

Data Values 
Data Entry Screen: Performance Metric data is added for each key performance indicator (KPI). From a single screen, both actual values and projections for multiple indicators or time periods are entered.

Criteria Screen 
Criteria (Health) Codes Screen: Unlimited levels of criteria can be added to the system. Users can choose from color codes to custom graphics to display the health of their performance measures.

Periods
Period Codes Screen: Period Codes are the smallest unit of time for a key performance indicator. They represent the level at which data is either entered or calculated. The application does allow indicators representing different time periods to be placed together on the same dashboard.

So what or who is The Dashboard Spy? As his about page states, The Dashboard Spy is just a guy interested in the design of business dashboards. He could not find any executive dashboard design source books and so set about creating his own. Finally convinced to post his extensive collection of dashboard screenshots online, he was amazed to find how popular it has become. If you have a nice screenshot to share, please leave a comment or send an email to info _at_ dashboardspy.com. Also check out The Dashboard Spy’s favorite books.