Dashboards with a Difference

by Kathy Roy

I could write about Dashboards from many different perspectives: I could talk about the importance of credible data and its merits for decision-makers or I could talk about their highly visual and easy to understand look with funky gauges and brightly coloured circles. But if I did that, I wouldn’t be talking about what will really help your organization measure for success.

You see, many Dashboards fall short of expectations, and the reason for this is simple: Not all information is created equally.

Too many Dashboard development processes spend more time on the look and feel of the Dashboard than they do on ensuring they are collecting the right performance measures. In the age of data overload, it’s not the colour of your gauge that will let you hone in on the right performance measures. So how do we differentiate which are the right performance measures?

There are three key characteristics that you can benchmark against when deciding which measures to use:

  1. They must be aligned with the organization’s current direction and pressing priorities. Senior management must identify the performance measures they need to be successful then support their organization to go out and measure them.
  2. They must be understood and controllable at some level in the organization. If an organization has a poor performance in one area, senior management should be able to ask the tough questions, receive answers, assign fixes, and see the performance improve on future reports.
  3. They must set an expectation for people to strive to achieve. Senior management must align their performance measures with their planning processes in order to set targets for attainment in their work performance.

Dashboards that include the right performance measures find themselves in the privileged position of being able to achieve improved performance results. The shape and form that the dashboard takes is about usability; the data and measures underpinning the dashboard are about performance improvement. And isn’t that what all organizations are seeking when they implement a Dashboard?


Kathy Roy has implemented business transformation and change management projects in complex organizations for over two decades. She has worked with major companies, both public and private, and with numerous business sectors in both Canada and the United States. She is part of Systemscope's Strategic Business Consulting practice.


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