Of dashboards and scorecards

Dashboards and scorecards are becoming ubiquitous business tools, according to a recent survey from The Data Warehousing Institute, “Deploying Dashboards and Scorecards.” The report, which is based on a winter 2006 survey of corporate IT professionals, BI consultants, and business sponsors/users, identifies numerous trends found in recent dashboard and scorecard deployments.

The report found that a majority of groups surveyed have deployed a dashboard as well as a scorecard, often within the same application. As well, dashboard and scorecard projects are overwhelmingly business-driven. Many dashboard and scorecard projects are initiated and guided by energetic business leaders.

Dashboards and scorecards are still in their infancy, according to the report. Most support fewer than 50 users and maintain less than 50 GB of data. Many organizations report that they haven’t spent a lot of money on dashboard/scorecard deployment.

The report makes several best practices recommendations for dashboard and scorecard deployment:

You get what you pay for. Deploying an inexpensive performance dashboard (licensable for under $50,000) may yield results in the short term, but the need to increase the scale of your dashboard will require significant additional time and investment.

Plan for the long haul. Successfully deploying a dashboard or scorecard often leads to requests from other departments and users for similar performance management tools. If you are not prepared to rapidly expand the scale and scope of your system, the extra drain on databases and processing power will lead to slower response times.

Plan for real time. Even if the business side is not requesting daily updates, being prepared to deliver them more timely data yields more valuable dashboards and scorecards and allows the business to more proactively optimize performance.

Develop effective metrics. Metrics are ultimately the key to the success of your dashboard/scorecard. Many techniques are available for ensuring that the metrics used are effective, including getting user buy-in, simplifying by using fewer metrics, avoiding perfectionism, and monitoring and revising as metrics lose business impact.

Involve technical people. One common mistake is to create metrics for which no data exists. To avoid this awkward situation, make sure you assign technical people to the team that gathers requirements and designs the metrics.

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