Nancy Wu, Head of Client Service
Ah, so many things to love about Corporate America: promotions, happy hours, and one of my personal favorites, dashboards. Dashboards are like the haiku of corporate data – minimum content, maximum impact. Probably the quickest way to get attention and action for the work we care about is to create a dashboard for it. Here are a few things to keep in mind when doing so:
Visibility: For a dashboard to be effective, it has to be seen by those who participate in the decision making process. Because it’ll be making the rounds, It’s crucial that the dashboard design is quick to read and pleasing to the eye. This is the place to spring for color and formatting wizardry.
Ownership: For each item that is being measured on the dashboard, there needs to be an owner assigned to take responsibility for it. Often there is a fear of “calling people out” so the names get dropped, or a department name is substituted. Refrain from this, as it dilutes accountability. It is advisable to always have an individual’s name connected to each metric.
Content: Content is still king. All of us are skilled enough in our subject matter area to know what is important to measure. A word of caution is to measure progress at both ends of the spectrum, so that the dashboard does not mislead the reader with skewed insight. So, if speed is measured, then also consider quality. If timeliness is a measurement, then also include total effort.
Dashboards lose their potency when creators neglect the designer eye, try to measure too much, or avoid presenting information that leads to hard conversations. Try to resist these pitfalls whenever possible, because a watered down dashboard is a wasted dashboard.