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Assessing Your Organization's Readiness for Performance Dashboards
An Article by Wayne W. Eckerson

by Wayne EckersonThursday, August 16, 2007


Performance Dashboards are a popular way of monitoring organizational performance. However, they can’t take root in a hostile environment. The organization must be ready to accept and nurture a performance management system for it to succeed.

The following 10 criteria are good ways to evaluate an organization’s readiness to deploy and sustain a performance management system for the long haul:

  1. A clearly defined strategy
  2. Strong, committed sponsorship
  3. A clear and urgent need
  4. The support of mid-level managers
  5. The appropriate scale and scope
  6. A strong team and available resources
  7. A culture of measurement
  8. Alignment between business and IT
  9. Trustworthy and available data
  10. A solid technical infrastructure

Let’s consider each of these criteria.

  1. A Clearly Defined Strategy

    A performance dashboard is a window into an organization’s strategy and planning processes, especially dashboards that track business strategy. If the strategy and planning processes are unclear, unaligned, or uncoordinated, the Performance Dashboard will be ineffective and short-lasting. The organization must have a strategy that defines its mission, values, vision, goals and objectives, and metrics for measuring progress toward reaching those objectives. It also needs a planning process that devises new initiatives, refines existing ones, and allocates resources to implement the strategy.

  2. Strong, Committed Sponsorship

    A committed and involved business sponsor evangelizes the system, secures and sustains funding, navigates political issues, effects cultural change, and helps prioritize projects.

    The sponsor must also assign a trusted lieutenant to guide the project on a daily basis. This “driver” or “champion” needs to devote at least 50 percent of his or her time to the project. Like the sponsor, he or she must be well respected and connected in the organization with a direct line to the executive suite.

  3. A Clear and Urgent Need

    The best performance dashboards address a critical pain in the business that stems from a lack of information and alignment with strategy. The more pain, the more likely a Performance Dashboard will flourish. Unless the business is starving for information and a way to monitor and manage business performance, the project won’t survive the strong tides and currents that wash many projects out to sea.

  4. The Support of Mid-Level Managers

    Successful Performance Dashboard solutions need the support of mid-level managers to succeed. This group determines the success or failure of a Performance Dashboard more than any other. These managers translate strategic goals and objectives into initiatives, metrics, and budgets to govern their areas. Their words and actions signal whether their staff should take executive edicts seriously or not. If they are unwilling partners—or worse, active saboteurs—the project can’t succeed.

This article excerpt appears courtesy of TDWI and originally appeared in TDWI’s Business Intelligence Journal, a Member only publication. To learn more about Membership and how to access additional articles please visit TDWI

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