Over the last few weeks, Sudhir and I have talked to a number of CEO, COO, and CFO and at some point in the visit with them each one of them has agreed to NOT having visibility or Control over the activities of their company to the extent they would like. What does this mean? It is like saying, “You are driving a car but the what we are all doing windscreen is blacked out”! Well… that is EXACTLY what we do when it comes to running our own companies or divisions. We have no visibility or over the Key Result Areas of our business and no indicators to tell us if our businesses are running smooth! Meaning, ‘No control over the productivity of our divisions’!
There are a number of dashboards and Key Performance Measurement (KPI) tools in the industry and they have been around for a number of years. Yet, the CEO even today complains about the same problem.
As side bar, you might have noticed that the best dashboards in business are the dashboards that are non-software based in the manufacturing or healthcare sector! Why is this case? What are they doing that cool looking, cutting edge software’s are not able to deliver? At Vantage Agora, we have done extensive research and come up with the following conclusions:
1. Pretty but not useful: Most dashboards today are pretty and have great looks but it is up to you as a customer to solve your problem.
2. Not direct enough: As tools these products can show snapshots of data but cannot translate this to decision support suggestion to “C” level people.
3. Nothing for what I do: Most CEO’s deal with either escalations of issues or they are reacting to market trends/changes. Dashboards cannot really help them there.
4. Not immediate: Dashboards/Reporting tools are too generic and show too many things that take a long time to pull up for the CEO and this results in the customer (The most important person in the company) not having a tool to run his/her company! “Great! I agree, but what is the solution and what should we be doing?”
1. 80/20 rule: List out what you “C” level people do every day by looking at their daily activities. Attempt to provide a dashboard customized for them to handle their top 20% of their activities. This is usually four dashboards.
2. No room for interpretation: Make sure that your dashboard does not have any room for interpretation by the “C” level people or the people reporting data into it. A lot of times this will mean very innovative and non-standard ways of designing your dashboards for these people.
3. Actionable Dashboard: Make sure that everything in the dashboards means something to your Executive users. Too many times the dashboards are meant for too many people and end up being used by nobody. Usually dashboards of this class have an average user base five to eight users even in large companies.
4. “Knock and door shall be opened”: Much like the biblical phrase make your dashboard so simple and immediate that a 12 year old can open it and see the results in less than 10 seconds!
5. Keep it real: The death of every report, dashboard in history has been the telephone or the visit to the subordinate’s office for clarification! If your management cannot get the right information every day from the dashboards, it dies! There is no two ways about it. However, once they build confidence in the tool, “C” level people swear by the dashboards. Meaning, it has to change with changing business environments.
You have to have a set of people that understand the business, operations, dashboards and the needs of the “C” level people and keep the data real in the dashboards. You have to make the investment to help your “C” people actually make better decisions.
At Vantage Agora we have evolved these steps for over 15 years now, to get our dashboard offering to where it is today. The learning we have shared with you is our collective learning from all these years of working with “C” level people and their frustrations of driving blind! If you want to know how to go about doing this, contact anyone of us at Vantage Agora and we will help you gain visibility and control over your business!
About Vantage Agora:
Vantage Agora (VA) is a global provider of back-office solutions, custom IT services and consulting services for companies in the insurance, finance, and healthcare sectors. As a SSAE 16 Type II audited company, Vantage Agora utilizes advanced data processing and quality control systems on a secured network to ensure efficient, comprehensive management of back-office functions such as insurance, accounting, financial and administrative tasks. Founded in 2004, Vantage Agora has offices in Cleveland and Dallas.