Advance Work for a CIO DashboardAn article by Michael Biddick in the March 3 issue of Information Week is a reminder of the depth of thought and preparation that has to go into creating a dashboard for monitoring business performance.
The sine qua non for an optimized dashboard is that it reflect optimized business processes. This means that a company should regularly analyze its processes to identify issues in need of attention.
As for creating the dashboard itself, Biddick lays out the following eight preparatory steps (here somewhat edited). (Note that Biddick is specifically considering a CIO dashboard. However, his eight steps apply with minor modification to just about any area of a business, or to the business as a whole.)
- Carefully define the key performance indicators (KPIs) your dashboard will track.
KPIs are measures of what actually drives the business. An example in the case of IT might be the percentage of staff working on active projects. The standard might be 80%, in which case an actual percentage significantly above or below 80% indicates a likely need for corrective action.
Chosen appropriately, KPIs facilitate managing the organization and doing so in alignment with the organization's goals.
- Map the KPIs to specific data requirements. Determine which (clean) data are already available in company systems, and which, if any, need to be collected.
- If data gaps exist, develop a plan and timeline to implement the systems needed for acquiring and storing the data in question.
- Investigate business service management (BSM), project and portfolio management (PPM), and business intelligence (BI) tools based on your KPI requirements. Pay attention to how particular tools integrate with your existing infrastructure. (Note that Biddick believes BSM, PPM, and BI products are on a path to convergence.)
- Budget for the initial cost of the dashboard, annual maintenance, and fees to implement the system. Take into account the complexity and cost of changes and updates.
- Develop an implementation plan that provides dashboard visibility into key systems one at a time.
- After systems are integrated, focus on correlating data across systems to provide meaningful visual information, and to ensure alerts are generated when metrics violate their thresholds.
- When new components are considered, evaluate how they will be integrated into the dashboard.