Dashboards – A Single Point Of The Truth

When I first heard of a dashboard when used outside of what I have in my car, I could not understand why this would or could be such a useful tool.

The first dashboard that I was introduced to was related to New Product Introduction and I did not have a vote in my choice about updating the information in it.

After listening to various senior managers it finally dawned on me that when information was traditionally shared and discussed (Reviewed) it was done in the following ways:

  1. Different people were looking at different versions of the data, produced at different times.
  2. Different people had taken that data and made different conclusions.
  3. Different people had the data interpreted by their subordinates and put into another format for them to present or use as a discussion subject (Typically Powerpoint).

Adopting a dashboard and using the data presented in that during meetings removed the issues as follows:

  1. Different version discussions disappeared because the current data was always displayed and discussed. There was never a different version to discuss.
  2. People agreed how the data should be prepared and changes were made to the reports from a central point if required. Again the problems (Arguments) of slicing the data in different ways simply disappeared.
  3. If a senior manager did require a subordinate to brief him in any way, there was no reason why someone should have drawn a different set of conclusions from the data presented. Explanations about why there was an issue, of course, and what was being done about it perfectly valid.

Above all whenever data was updated anywhere or any time it was immediately available to all in real time

At the time of the first dashboards, they required a person full time to make sure that the system was being managed and mistakes entered were corrected. The user interface was crude, to say the least!

The cost and complexity of the required computing power put it far beyond the reach of most companies and the applications were not sufficiently mature that internet could be used, so the corporate Wide Area Network was required.

Today, the internet is much more mature and tools exist that allow this to be produced in a multitude of different ways that are easy to access and in some cases free.

I have produced a website that will allow you to view a series of synthetic KPIs. I have provided the capability to connect to the source data and edit it. Those edits will immediately be seen in an updated report.

The entire set up is fairly basic but it looks OK and does the job well enough.

I took me about 4 hours to produce. Once set up it only requires data entry going forward. No associated emails, powerpoints etc.

With a little bit of imagination, even in the smallest of companies, the adoption of similar tools that exist in abundance today can make a significant improvement in your productivity.

Go to the following locations and see for yourself the simple example that I put together:

The first is the location of the embedded dashboard report on a website. Click on the following link to view it:

(For your information this has been set up on a WordPress website that is free.)

If you wish to play with the data click on the following link.

It takes you to an editable web-enabled google spreadsheet. Change the values and hit enter as you change the value to update the data.

Now go back to the first link and refresh the screen and the metrics are all updated with the latest information.

The metrics are produced using a data analytics tool produced by Google called Google Data Studio.

For simplicity, I used Google sheets as the source of the data but actually, there are many others. If I were paranoid about Google accessing my data (And I am not by the way!) then simply store the data in a SQL, PostgreSQL or MySQL databases that are in no way associated with Google.

If you really do not like to use any of the Google tools there are others that perform similar tasks, or you can even write your own.

I’ve done this myself, and what geeky fun I have had doing so! But if I just need to put something together quickly, that does the job, I have not found anything better.

The choice of using a WordPress site is convenience and it is free of charge too.

If you want to learn more about Google Data Studio I am more than happy to help. As usual, you can get in touch with me via the contact me page on my website, Linkedin and Facebook

Alternatively pop along to their website


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *