Dashboard Insight recently spoke with iDashboard's Shadan Malik about the role of Chief Performance Officer and how digital dashboard technology can assist the U.S. government's budget process - and more.
Dashboard Insight: What is the significance of the position of Chief Performance Officer?
Shadan Malik: The position of Chief Performance Officer (CPO) couldn't have come at a better time for our country, considering the state of the current U.S. and global economies. Now more than ever, our government needs an individual whose job requires them to investigate and dissect the federal budget to determine which programs are working well, and which can be trimmed down. Reigning in federal spending and working to reprioritize and restructure government programs will hopefully be the first steps towards easing our nation’s current massive budget deficit.
DI: When the news about President Obama seeking a Chief Performance Officer broke, several news reports indicated that this is not a new position. How has the role of CPO evolved over time and what titles (if different from CPO) were used?
SM: The concept of government performance management has been around in one form or another for the past 30 years. While the title of CPO may be new, both President Clinton and President Bush had government performance review projects during their time in office, which were created for the same purposes, to streamline government performance. It is exciting to see this evolving into a role expressly structured to evaluate performance in terms of wasted funds and budget expenses.
DI: What type of individual would be most suitable for this position and what kind of experience and skill set should they be bringing to the table?
SM: The key to filling this post properly is appointing someone who is not afraid to roll up his or her sleeves and create a true culture of accountability. Right now, the government is riddled with programs and budget plans that simply are not working. It’s going to take a driven, aggressive and knowledgeable individual to go in and make a change for the better. The role of the CPO will certainly be complex, and the individual who takes this position should have a proven understanding of the type of infrastructure and the technologies that will be necessary to investigate the performance of our government’s programs and make strategic decisions for change based on measurable data points.
DI: What role can BI play in the public sector (government)?
SM: Because business intelligence (BI) tools such as dashboards are specifically designed to quickly identify performance gaps and issues, this technology will certainly assist the “budget watchdogs” in determining what is and isn’t working, and where to allocate and cut funding to boost performance.
BI dashboards can be used to track and measure the health of an organization and if properly implemented by U.S. and international government agencies, dashboards can translate the data that is gathered and stored into actionable insight.
DI: What kind of performance measurement tools do you think the Chief Performance Officer will be using?
SM: Because I know firsthand how effective BI dashboard technology is at streamlining business processes and giving organizations an overview of the bottom line, I hope the new CPO will employ this technology in their new position. Visually rich dashboards will allow the CPO and his/her team to identify trends at-a-glance and drill down into data sets to facilitate timely, well-informed decision-making.
Dashboards allow for large amounts of data to be organized and displayed in an easily understood, interactive format and can provide an instant overview of the data in near real time. The CPO has been tasked with analyzing the government budget line by line, and dashboards can help facilitate this process as they help to pinpoint the areas that require the most attention.
DI: How would such a performance measurement system be deployed and how pervasive do you think it should be?
SM: In order for a dashboard to provide maximum value, it is important to be as diligent as possible in its creation. There are three key questions that must be addressed when building a dashboard, including: (1) What information will the dashboard include? (2) For whom is the dashboard being created? (3) How will the information be presented? If these three areas are properly assessed during the dashboarding process, the new CPO will be well positioned to analyze the government’s budget.
Once the dashboard has been created, I think it should be incredibly pervasive within the government. Having a dashboard that tracks through all government departments and agencies will grant the CPO the visibility he/she needs to fully execute the mandate of the position.
DI: What would you say would be the strengths, weaknesses and threats associated with a performance measurement system?
SM: Dashboards are an extremely compelling and targeted way to display, analyze and track data. With a wealth of disparate government data systems, tracking and analyzing data sets to determine where to cut budget spend and where to allocate additional resources, could be nearly impossible. Without a performance measurement system (such as dashboards) in place, the process of evaluating data will require hours of collecting and analyzing data, likely revealing budget issues too late. With the power of dashboards, this time wasting process can be eliminated, allowing government agencies to aggregate data into a single platform that facilitates immediate insight into how government resources are being spent and how performance is directly affected.
A lack of relevant information presented within a dashboard would be the biggest weakness associated with this type of performance measurement system. The absence of upfront care when implementing a dashboard initiative could result in less than ideal results down the road.
DI: How do you think risk and compliance issues would be addressed?
SM: A key benefit of dashboards is the visibility and transparency they give into an organization’s data. Having a direct sightline into the performance of government programs will allow the CPO to track more closely whether or not policies and procedures are being followed. Additionally, selecting key performance indicators that measure risk and compliance will enable the dashboard to easily map and analyze both of these issues.
Shadan Malik, president and CEO of iDashboards, has worked with hundreds of businesses and global enterprises to address their specific needs and architect dashboard solutions for organizational scorecards, operations, finance, quality control, customer service and supply chain. He holds two patents in the area of data visualization for dashboards. As an expert in this field, Malik authored the first book on dashboard best practices, Enterprise Dashboards: Design and Best Practices for IT.
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