What does your business tell you?

A few months ago my wife and I went to New York.  Whilst we were there we went to see the New York Knicks play the Memphis Grizzlies at Madison Square Garden.  Not only was this the first basketball game I’d ever seen, it was my first visit to  Madison Square Garden. Sadly on our visit the New York Knicks lost, in what turned out to be a very close game.

But the action didn’t just happen on the court. High above it is a huge electronic scoreboard showing the game as it happens or replays of shots on the large video screens as well as real time statistics by team.

The fans could see instantly how their team is performing.

But, could you tell how your business was performing?

In this post we will  show you how you can create your own information dashboard using actionable metrics.

First things first. Lets get on thing clear. Your information dashboard does not need to be 30 feet high. An Excel Spreadsheet will do just fine.

But to create a useful information dashboard, first you need decide the following:

  1. decide on your measures and how you will measure them;
  2. identify and collect them;
  3. analyse them
  4. communicate them
  5. interpret them
  6. act on them!

1. Decide what to measure

When you’re deciding what measures to include on your dashboard you need to:

  • Decide what results you need to measure, which is usually your goals or objectives.
  • Then design measures which will give the best evidence of those results.

2. Identify and collect them

Collecting data can be a time consuming process so:

  • Define the data requirements for the performance measures you want to report.  You’re looking to create an action plan for the information you need to collect.

3. Analyse the data

Once you’ve got the informaiton that you require,  you need to process it.

  • If you’re  bringing different sources of data together,it can be challenge as there may be no obvious way to link your data together (e.g. linking supplier invoices and suppliers together would be extremely difficult if you didn’t have the invoice numbers to link the two).

4. Interpret

Once you’ve analysed the data it turns into information. You then need to make sure this new information is presented in the most appropriate format so that you can communicated it.

  • Good performance information should drive business performance.
  • This may mean summarising the raw data into totals or averages or ratios for each time period, such as week or month or performing some statical analysis on the summary data

5. Communicate

In communicating performance information, you are influencing which messages the audience focuses on. You need to present your measures on your dashboard  in ways that provide simple, relevant, trustworthy and visual interpretation

  • line charts are good for trend information and bar charts for comparisons.
  • information dashboards shouldn’t just contain the measures. They need to contain all the information that the audience needs to understand the context, how to interpret what the measures are saying, and how to respond to what the measures are saying.
  • report your performance measures on a regular and cosistent basis (eg weekly or monthly)

6. Act on Them!

This is the most important step. When you have worked out what is really going on with your organisation’s performance, you are ready to make some decisions about what to improve, how much to improve it by and how to do that improving.

  • Define guidelines that signal what should happen when a particular result occurs. Specific results should trigger a specific response within a particular time frame.

Put an information dashboard in place for your business and you’ll have much better control over your business and be able to react should particular triggers or signals be incurred.

Do you have an information dashboard for your business and what do you measure?

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