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  • Kathy Schaller

What Makes a Dashboard Strategic?

In our (re)Ignite Growth webinar series, we talked about developing a navigation plan. A key component of a plan is identifying a set of goals and the factors that will contribute to or stand as obstacles to achieving the goals.

I have been working with clients on dashboards quite a bit lately. As we get started, they share past iterations that were abandoned soon after launch. Probing often uncovers that the development task was delegated to people who were close to the data but too far removed from the business. A dashboard gets its meaning from being tied to something – a plan, a strategy, a campaign – which is important to the business and has articulated goals and underlying drivers of success. Developing a useful dashboard requires understanding the decisions that the metrics will inform.

My car dashboard serves as a strategic dashboard. It was designed with an understanding of what I need to know to achieve my purpose of arriving at my next destination. Most days, I really only need a couple of key measures – speed and fuel level – to get where I’m going. At the same time, the dashboard keeps an eye on other critical systems in the car and alerts me to the need for service or impending failures so that I can react appropriately. My car dashboard does not, however, overload me with information by reporting on everything that can be monitored in a car, like less urgent codes that most people leave to their mechanic to check during service appointments.

Similar to the dashboard in my car, a well-designed business dashboard becomes a critical tool for driving an organization toward meeting its goals, giving its leaders visibility into performance and unexpected situations so that they can react appropriately. Developing the scorecard requires understanding the mechanics of the business. In fact, the methodical process of choosing metrics can cause leaders to reevaluate the plans they have written and more clearly articulate how they will achieve the desired business outcomes.

Sage Partner Kathy Schaller contributed this Sage Advice.

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