Is your management dashboard “ADEPT”?

Unless you’re a management expert with many of years of experience using dashboards of varied sophistication levels, it can be difficult to correctly evaluate the quality level of a management dashboard.  Small nuances in this area can result in strong repercussions on the performance of the tool.

The management dashboard is an evaluation/verification tool of the performance of a company or an institution.  Performance is evaluated by comparing KPIs (key performance indicators) for a specific time or specific time periods versus predetermined reference points.

For who?

  • You wish to make more judicious choices on a management dashboard system to use
  • You are not as delighted or as satisfied with your existing dashboards as you have hoped for at first; even with you level of experience, you are unable to identify the reasons for this

Hockey analogy

Hockey._Maurice_Richard

To evaluate the quality of a hockey player, there are characteristics that are simple to evaluate such as his acceleration, his physical size, the strength and precision of his shots, etc. These athletic characteristics and physical feats, generally called the tools of a player, are easy to evaluate and they contribute heavily to the increase of his performance.

What informal fans often forget to evaluate is the tool box of a player.  How does he make use all his tools together as well as intangibles such as “mental strength”.  These characteristics are difficult to evaluate in a player. High level hockey is ultra-fast and competitive; the ability of a player to take the right decisions, his ability to throw himself with fervor into the actions undertaken, his capacity to correctly see plays that are being created, his capacity to predict where the opportunities will present themselves, etc., are so many critical factors that can thoroughly modify his basic evaluation and make him a highly performant hockey player.


Characteristics of performant dashboard

Basic characteristics, simple to evaluate

Modern management dashboarding systems have the following basic characteristics that are easy to evaluate:

  • Use of charts and graphical gauges: Has tools to allow you to visualize data, infer insights and communicate.
  • Connection to any data sources: If usable data are available, your system should allow you access it.
  • 100% automatic refreshes: The dashboard is much more reliable when data refresh does not require any human intervention.
  • Support for “real-time”: Data do not sleep, you should be able to visualize you data “live”.
  • Easy access: You should be able to access your dashboard from anywhere, at any time and on any of your devices.

ADEPT™ characteristics, difficult to evaluate

pdca_grabb_adept_db_ENWe see in the above graphic the location of a dashboard with ADEPT™ characteristics (green borders) within the work/management cycle.  The dashboard, as a verification tool is used to determine what actions, if any, are to be taken.  The main value of a dashboard originate from the actions, small or large, taken in very short term repeatedly or on a longer term, whether by an operator on the production floor or by a CEO in the executive suite.  In other term, even if you have the most beautiful dashboard in the world, the less your dashboard positively affect the actions of your people, the less it is valuable. 

If there are no positive impact on the actions or behaviors of your people:

  • There will be no impact on your performance.
  • There will be no impact on your level of competitiveness.
  • There will be no impact on your profitability in medium or long term.

A: “Actionable”/ “Action-oriented”: The orientation toward action trait is the main goal to reach; the other traits described later here serve to support it.  Usually to make it easy for end-users to take actions in the foreground, it takes an advanced configuration and calculation system in the background.

D: “Drill-Down”/ “Dig Deeper”: If the dashboard raises an alarm, an end-user should be able to find the WHY within 2 or 3 clicks.  A system with ADEPT characteristics should also be able to provide solution paths for HOW to resolve the problematic.

E: “Easy”/ “Effortless”: The use of the dashboard must not require any effort.

P: “Predictive”/ “Powerful”: Sometimes being alerted in real time is not sufficient.  You have to be alerted in advance and act before it is too late to change things.

T: “Transmittable”/ “Transferable”: The communication of information (the objectives, the level of achievement of these objectives, the most important key performance indicators (KPI), etc.) is an essential quality because it allows for the mobilisation and motivation of your people.


More about ADEPT™ characteristics

A: “Actionable”/ “Action-oriented”: The orientation toward action trait is the main goal to reach; the other traits described later here serve to support it.  Usually to make it easy for end-users to take actions in the foreground, it takes an advanced configuration and calculation system in the background.  Orientation toward action is characterized by the following five aspects:

a) 100% reliability:

  • Reliability of results data
  • Reliability of reference points (the alerts are raised based on the gap between the results and the reference points)
    • N.B: There are lots of subtle technological complexity on this aspect.  For example, if your dashboard follows the launch of new products or the performance of your customers with strong potential, it is totally useless to rely on last year’s sales.  If you set a high-level objective for the whole year, is this objective correctly and automatically apportioned based on the seasonality of your clients, according to regions, etc. in your dashboard!?
  • If a doubt appear, the ability of any employee to double-check all the way to the raw data.

b) At the right moment: the alarms must be raised quickly, in real-time or even better with anticipated alerts using advanced predictive algorithms.

c) The ability to discover the why: the system must allow your people to discover quickly, with ease and with the required details the ‘why’ of an alarm.

d) The capacity to discover the how: the system must allow your people to quickly, and with ease, find path of solutions and steps to take in order to resolve the issue raised by the alarm.

e) Effortless access by all stakeholders:

  • Small actions, repeated many time throughout the day, can bring a lot of value.  Because of the quantity of access involved, it must be effortless, especially for employees who are less at ease with computers.
  • Affordable cost when providing access to all employees (from the sales representatives to the mechanics).  Many dashboarding systems seem affordable but the costs bloat up if your try to give access to most of your employees.

D: “Drill-Down”/ “Dig Deeper”:  If the dashboard raises an alarm, an end-user should be able to find the WHY within 2 or 3 clicks.  A system with ADEPT characteristics should also be able to provide solution paths for HOW to resolve the problematic.  If digging deeper requires a significant amount of time and effort, if your employees have to fetch reports after reports to then make correlations, these steps to discover the why and the how will only be taken on the most critical alarms.  It will be then too late to take effective corrective steps.

E: “Easy”/ “Effortless”: The use of the dashboard must not require any effort.

  • Easy and effortless access.
  • Easy to understand because of studied and intuitive ergonomics.
  • Easy to reconcile with your management process or the management process of your department/industry.  You work in a particular way, the tool should be adapted to your way of working and not the opposite.

P: “Predictive”/ “Powerful”: Sometimes being alerted in real time is not sufficient.  You have to be alerted in advance and act before it is too late to change things.  If you drive a car in the city, it doesn’t matter if your low fuel indicator alerts you to go fill up.  If you are in a competitive environment and are driving an F1 race car, it is crucial to know that you WILL lack fuel to finish the race unless you reduce the angle of the front spoiler by 1%!2010_Malaysian_GP_opening_lap

T: “Transmittable”/ “Transferable”: The communication of information (the objectives, the level of achievement of these objectives, the most important key performance indicators (KPI), etc.) is an essential quality because it allows for the mobilisation and motivation of your people.  All employees who could benefit from the access to the tool should be able to do so without constraint.   We should be careful of the case that often happen wherein giving access to a few employees is feasible but costs bloat up when you want to give access to most of your employees.


Conclusion

I hope this article has been informative and will help you determine the quality of a dashboarding system.  There are many other nuances and subtleties on this subject.  I’ll be able to go more in detail in a future article.  Until then, if you are interested in discovering how Grabb® or ADEPT™ management dashboard could improve the performance of your company or department, please contact us and ask for a Grabb adviser!

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