KPI's Revisited: Part 4 Actionable DashboardsSubmitted by Hans van Nes on Fri, 07/01/2011 - 17:00
After the introduction of Key Business Indicators as the basis for performance based measuring systems in Part 1, we looked at the application for the CIO and in not for profit environments in the subsequent parts. In this last part of the series we look at the best way to implement and act upon KBI’s.
Paper is patient, says a famous Dutch expression, meaning that writing something down is by no means a guarantee that something will actually happen. So inventing the perfect set of KBI’s without a proper implementation is a waste of time. The best way of going about implementation is to treat the KBI’s as a living organisms.
- Unmanaged is unknown
- Unknown is unused
- Unused is useless
If nobody takes ownership of a KBI, visibility will be low or even nonexistent. Only when a senior manager takes visible ownership, showing that the KBI is a serious business elements, there is a chance that it will be generally accepted by the whole team.
If the owner of a KBI does not communicate how they can and will influence management decisions they are easily seen as yet another administrative burden.
If the actual outcome of the KBI is presented just as an afterthought long after the measuring has taken place, or even worse, is embedded in the yearly business review, don't use them at all. After the fact is history, useful to look backwards in time but not to change the "now"
Active dashboards hooked up with the operational systems and showing in real time the actual status or change in a KBI, force permanent visibility and an urge for action. But don't make the mistake to have a flashy, animated, 3D, ridiculously expensive boardroom flat screen version which is seen by nobody else than the top or visitors. Rather have a simple workforce focused solution which limited elements but with the right information for the target audience. It can be as simple as a screensaver on the desktop.
Surprisingly many ERP solutions have dashboards capability embedded in them but there is a myriad of dedicated tools out there which can do the trick. For complex KBI’s with many underlying elements, drill down capability is useful to allow for finer grained management intervention.
But all fancy presentation gizmos are useless if no action is taken. Actionable dashboards which have the capability of taking action [anything from posting a memo to setting parameters in applications] and showing alongside the before and after situation, will have the highest acceptance and those most impact. Ideally the dashboard should have "What-if" capabilities so that a manager and his team can prototype the outcome of an action.
Sounds a bit like Star Trek? No, the required technology is very affordable and out there for years and even being used in complex production environments. Production plants are often completely controlled by an actionable dashboard. So why don't adopt the same for the more services oriented business processes? But this all starts by taking KBR’s, KPI's and thus KBI's more seriously and bringing them to the desktop of all involved employees.
As always: comments welcomed.
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