Wandering Consultant®

Believing that experience is the best teacher, the Wandering Consultant shares real-life experiences, stories, and situations.  The topics are varied and delivered with an intention of passing along the guidance and wisdom gathered from professionals that I've met along the way.

Comments are always welcome as are similar experiences and lessons that you've picked up.  Happy wandering....

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As I talk to business leaders, more and more of them are worried about succumbing to their own information overload. With the data available on the Internet, the data generated by their own internal systems, and the proliferation of data-collecting devices (smart phones, tablets, etc.) among their staff, many are afraid that they will become so inundated with information that they will stop focusing on their mission – keeping their organizations growing and thriving.

It’s a real concern. With so much data available, it’s often difficult to focus on your key performance indicators (KPI). How many times have you read an article on the Internet and followed a link, and then another and before you know it, 30 minutes is gone? Or checked your phone for that one important message and ended up losing 15 minutes on really trivial messages?

My recommendation is that although it’s probably impossible to distance yourself from all of the data available to you, you can easily select which data is important to the health of your organization and dashboard it.

Dashboarding

The term “dashboard” as it relates to organizational information first gained popularity in the mid-2000s. The idea is to present a few key data points (or key performance indicators – KPI) to leaders so they have an immediate snapshot of the overall health of their organization. The term comes from an automobile dashboard which synthesizes the hundreds and thousands of data points collected by your car’s computers and shows you, at a glance, the key ones you need to gauge the overall operation of the car. Things like the speedometer, fuel gauge, coolant temperatures, etc.dashboard1

It’s the same with your organization. There are a million details concerning your employees, customers, products, and financials. But as the leader, there are some overall data points you can review to assess the overall health of the organization. A true dashboard view is best presented graphically with charts, gauges, or other images. A glance at your business dashboard gives you the information you need. If it takes more than 10 seconds to understand the picture, it’s too detailed.

What Data Is Important?

Each area leader should have their own dashboards. Depending on your role, your dashboard data is focused on your area. The CFO dashboard is much different than the VP of Sales dashboard. What are some areas to dashboard?

  • Financial results
  • Sales
  • Production orders
  • Customer service issues
  • Job openings

It’s also not a bad idea to create a company-wide dashboard, accessible to all staff. Different staff members have different interest levels in the organizational operations. But just about everyone is concerned with the organization’s overall health.

The data can be retrieved from many different sources including:

  • Accounting System
  • HR/Payroll System
  • CRM (Sales, Support, and other information)
  • Company website
  • Marketing
  • Access

Dashboard access is changing all the time. Dashboards were first delivered in report format. Today with the advent of major data systems integration, dashboards can be delivered either as email attachments, interactive links to a web page, or mobile device “apps.”

Dashboards are becoming common in large organizations but smaller organizations can now create and access dashboards as the tools become more inexpensive and easier to use.  After all, leaders of smaller organizations – where everyone has multiple jobs – are the most likely candidates to suffer from informational overload.

Dashboards are an outstanding way for leaders to quickly assess their current business status. They’re also a great way to communicate internally to all levels of the organization. They are relatively easy to generate and can help limit your informational overload.

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