|Five Top Secrets to Building a Powerful Company Dashboards that will Change Your Business
|1. The best dashboard is 100% numbers and no graphs.
That's right - ZERO graphs to start. The "data to ink" ratio should be as high as possible. The more numbers on the page the better. Do not focus on the software or pretty graphs. That comes later. Anyone trying to impress you with a pretty graphics display misses the entire value of dashboards and does not understand Performance Management! That is the cherry on the sundae for later, when the numbers are correct. Software and graphs examine more granular data - KPIs are always summary data (aggregate). Anything else is reporting, not Executive dashboards. Ever notice most people selling dashboards are software vendors, not business experts? They make money from selling software, not from your success in improving team and business performance. Dashboards are designed to relate cause and effect that are separated in time and location (department) by lining up all the numbers vertically together to easily see both trends and relationships over time (i.e. marketing investments that create sales three months later). They create dense, summary information on one page to see the big picture. They are not reports (see our video training).
2. Philosophy and best practices in management must be taught and embedded in the Dashboard design.
Include proper training in the use of dashboards for everyone participating. This must be done for everyone in the company to "sell the value", so they understand the benefit to them and do not see it as a useless exercise, or something they can ignore or game for personal benefit. As any good leader knows: You must win hearts and minds, not just order compliance. There are psychological factors that make this work. When we help people, we provide professionally produced training videos for all levels of employees, as well as coaching, and direct Q & A support to all staff. Giving staff a new tool with no training on how to use it properly is useless. We have been helping companies implement dashboards for many years. It is tricky and most implementations fail to achieve even decent results. We guarantee, with our help, your company performance will improve significantly.
3. Use a custom designed dashboard, never an industry template!
Even starting from a template for another company defeats the purpose. This is a convenience for the software vendors, but every company's dashboard must be unique to fit to their strategy, niche, pricing, culture, industry and many other factors. Bonus Secret: This can only be determined by a proper discovery process which is done by an independent third party because anyone stuck inside the business cannot see the forest for the trees.
4. Develop your dashboard(s) in a spreadsheet and use spreadsheets only for the first three to six months.
To get the right KPIs tested and data collection working, even if on paper, you must eliminate the software barriers and complexity. Do not let the software tail wage the performance dog. Data can be collected manually if needed, not automated, initially. After the metrics are proven, then automation can be looked at and the IT work done to collect and display the data in more ways if the ROI warrants it. Getting the core KPIs right must be the first objective, or all those complexities prevent it from ever getting done right.
Of course, there is no substitute for experience and having expert guidance. It is unlikely you will get a quality dashboard doing it the first time, or even repeatedly over several months. If you can afford a few thousand dollars this will literally save you years of trial and error. Do not software people or finance people to select the proper KPIs. Eighty percent of the value comes from the right metrics. Dashboard design and KPI selection is an art that takes many years of experience to develop. No one can get it right doing it the first time. An expert will discover the right ones for your company quickly. Every dashboard must have a balance of the right four categories of numbers. Even most of our competitors do not understand this - so we won't put it here where they can see it - but we will tell real prospects about this on a free discovery call and email you a free whitepaper.
Bob Norton, Founder of AirTight Management, has been designing dashboards since 1992 and trains and certifies all AirTight consultants and coaches. Bob Norton has been a CEO since 1989 and a CEO Coach, Consultant and Thought Leader in Leadership, Management and Systems since 2002. He is also the creator of The CEO Boot Camp and hundreds of training programs for executives and managers.