Sunday, February 9, 2014

An Effective Executive Dashboard

A Dashboard needs to be light, focus on ''K' in KPIs. 

Just like the control board in our cars, business dashboard is "an easy to read, often single page, real-time user interface, showing a graphical presentation of the current status (snapshot) and historical trends of an organization’s KPIs - Key Performance Indicators to enable instantaneous and informed decisions to be made at a glance. What are the essential information in a management dashboard at the executive level?

A Dashboard needs to be light. There is no one size fits all solution. Usually, each organization runs on about 5 metrics, the trick is to understand which 5 metrics are important. Keep in mind a dashboard needs to be light, therefore, the scope of the metrics should be limited. Most contain some type of RAG on schedule, cost, and resources. You could throw in Issues: Risks, Scope, EVM, KPIs. But it is about what the organizational leadership wants to see and manage against.

An execution dashboard needs to focus on well-defined big K- ‘KEY’ in KPI: The executive level dashboards (VP and above) have less to do with project progress and more to do with the project's ability to meet business objectives/requirements, the potential risk in the business, Operation or organizational decisions commitments/ reliance to achieve. So the K-"KEY' in KPI is essential to report on which may require translation when moving from project to program to Org/Dept to the Business. Project financials, margin expectations, schedule/progress, it is tangible at the project level. For the rest, it may take the time to gain consensus/agreement for what to report and of course visually how to represent.

Essential information in management dashboard: Besides the ‘essential” indicators like cost (budget) and time (schedule), there are as many preferred items as executives can think of and their presentation preferences are equally varied. The bottom line is that if the executives want to see “whatever” data, then it is “essential” that you have a system to show it to them in a format they prefer and understand. Since you often have multiple executives to satisfy it would be best to have a system to allow each of them to quickly and easily choose their items of interest and display format and then save the view for future updates. Essential Information in a Management Dashboard usually includes
1). Metrics and its performance
2). Departmental P & L
3). Turnover/ Attrition percentage
4). Key Challenges and data
5). Top accomplishments 
6) Any deviations in schedule cost with reasons
7). Observed business benefits/outcomes
8). Key risks & issues with mitigation steps
9). Any decision that needs to be taken by the executive committee including budgetary approvals, approvals for schedule extension, approvals for additional resources, etc.

Highlighting important aspects of the dashboard for decision guidance. The key is to keep dashboard crisp, readable while highlighting important aspects for decision/guidance from executive management. This allows you to see it all and to manage by exception. For things that call for it, you deep dive the rest of the status report. As each executive has his/her own special area that they like to peek into to know everything is on track. So transparency works for everyone. There are some popular dashboards such as Quad chart of EVM CPI and SPI, Resource usage, a stoplight chart showing objective/ subjective values for Overall, scope, schedule, cost, technical and quality areas and a short list of bullets. In reality, due to the time limit, the executives have no ‘interest’ in seeing everything, but they do want to keep track of the prioritized issues in running the business.

An important dashboard best practice, especially for an executive dashboard,  is that the ‘essential’ information presented has a clear alignment to the strategy that the audience is trying to execute or manage by using the dashboard, the logical process flow, the intuitive visualization is also important factors in making execution dashboard more effective.


An effective dashboard is a combination of visualization tools, user based interfaces and data collection and aggregation with collaboration capabilities across enterprise resource, people and systems. Collaboration Dashboard Services enables users to communicate with their colleagues, host remote meetings and share information. Executive Dashboards‎

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