30.03.2015

Dashboards are… Fun?

Can a SharePoint dashboard be fun? Would a SAP BusinessObjects dashboard be joyful too? Or… should they?

A good sense of humour is usually considered a positive characteristic of a human being. And a professional individual possessing such a sense is appreciated even more by the people she works with, doesn’t she?

Sales steering dashboard
Managerial Dashboard

Dashboards – just like individual professionals – mediate between some knowledge area and the recipient. A professionally looking dashboard is strict, concise and to the point. In operations – where the dashboard visualises a process – a more “flashy” variant might be more appropriate. On the contrary, a managerial dashboard – that has the purpose to deliver vast amounts of information to an executive manager every day – has to be succinct and rich.

In this way, a dashboard is a medium that facilitates useful learning, frequent and repetitive – just like… a toy! Indeed, a child learns many aspects of this World by means of playing with toys for many years before he dives into the seriousness of pupilship, academia and work… Or is it just the toys that change? 🙂

Few CEOs and CFOs are likely to refer to their business-critical tool as a toy. Nevertheless, it might be an interesting metaphor to exploit. It implies simplicity, clarity, attractiveness and… an infinite variety of activities deriving just from the interpretation of the look of the object. Well-versed folks might call it informed decision-making. With decisions being the activities, the other characteristics derived from the metaphor might be directly applied to the dashboards design. Simplicity, clarity, attractiveness… Would it be easy to implement? Assuming the objective is well set by the ultimate consumer – yes, the implementation might be straightforward.

Analytical Dashboard
‘What-If’ Analytical Dashboard

For instance, shall the managerial objective be to increase turnover of the working capital and drive the return on capital employed (ROCE) upwards, then a dashboard-like what-if analysis tool would be a good business solution. Yet another example could be a sales overdue receivables dashboard which points directly to the actions for the accounts receivable managers. And so on… there is a clue to an action given by every dashboard, balanced scorecard and KPI-powered strategy map.

So, what’s the limiting factor in implementing successful ones? Might this be the perception of the notions themselves? At times, it might be difficult to abstract, hence the use of a metaphor.

And by the way, the original meaning of ‘dashboard’ is a board that protects the carriage passengers from the mud dashed up by the horses’ hooves.

Dashboard
The Original Dashboard (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Dashboards are fun, aren’t they? 🙂

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Blog writer

Ilya Belomutov

Lead Consultant