The Performance Manager

Have you heard of the Performance Manager book? If not, you should take a look at it! The Performance Manager is a book that can provide a lot of value to you and your Business Analytics projects. Some people describe it as a ‘Recipe book for Analytics’. Mike Duncan recently blogged about designing dashboards and selecting the right KPIs. The Performance Manager publication is a great tool to help you with that.

THE RECIPE

First of all, the Performance Manager is not necessarily a book that you read from the first page to the last. No, it is rather a smart compendium that you pull out when you need it. The basic idea of the book is to provide the readers with deep insights and ideas about the type of goals, metrics and responsibilities they need to think about when designing new reports, dashboards and planning templates. The book is structured around the eight primary functions of a typical business (Finance, Marketing, Sales, etc..). The Performance Manager

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Dashboarding – Insights from Mike Duncan – Part 2

Each indicator must have a strong correlation to your ability to effect change

In my last post I laid out 3 practical and compelling questions in developing your dashboarding program:

  1. How should my company be using a dashboard(s)?
  2. What is the basic process for choosing my KPI’s?
  3. What are some common mistakes I should avoid in my dashboarding?

Today I conclude with Questions 2 and 3.

Selection of KPI’s

KPI’s are dictated by the strategy of each business against the backdrop of standards or benchmarks for its industry, so every dashboard is different. Your KPI’s are singular to you and your business. While you can look to examples for general guidance, you need to work through the process of defining KPI’s for your own business.

These questions may help you start your KPI identification and selection process:

  1. At what level of responsibility is the dashboard being used?
  2. What are the strategies and objectives that are driving the data requirements?
  3. What data provide the best indicators of performance for these requirements?
  4. How can this data be portrayed to maximize readability and minimize response time?
  5. What is the strength of the correlation between the data and your ability to influence change?

The first two questions presume that you have already completed other required steps, such as developing a strategic plan and defining the related goals and objectives. Data points floating against dark space are meaningless. They must be oriented against your goals and industry/competitor benchmarks. The last three questions address the qualitative aspects of KPI’s.

Perhaps the most basic consideration is reflected in the last question. Each indicator must have a strong correlation to your ability to effect change. Stated more simply, the whole purpose of dashboarding is built on the assumption that you have the ability to quickly influence outcomes as you respond to information from key indicators.

For example, daily magazine advertising dollars spent is probably meaningless because display advertising doesn’t move sales on a daily basis and the lead time to place such ad sales is at least 6 months. You lose on both counts – sales and costs.

Common Mistakes in Dashboarding

These are some of the most common and harmful mistakes in dashboarding:

  • Overloading the dashboard – This is the most common mistake. Getting the most from the least is your goal. Loading every metric about your company onto a dashboard will only confuse and delay your response; equals damage to the company.
  •  Expecting too much – Dashboarding has a very specific purpose and value. It does not replace regular reporting. Don’t try to manage your business entirely from the dashboard. This will push you to put too much onto it and you will tend to lose sight of longer term trends.
  • Misreading the data – You can minimize the risk of misreading data in the KPI definition process. Choose data that is easy to interpret and consistently reliable.

Responding incorrectly – Lives have been lost more than once from a pilot pulling up the nose when the warning system is telling him to increase altitude. He should have first put the nose down for speed to create lift needed for altitude. He thought “up,” pulled the stick and stalled the plane. Know how you are going to respond to an indicator before going live.

Conclusion

There are books, classes, and careers dedicated to the practice of dashboarding. It is a very important business practice and can become an invaluable business tool to make your life easier and your business more successful. Spend the time needed to do it right.

 

Bizzeness - Mike DuncanAbout the author of this post:

Mike Duncan is Partner and co-founder of Bizzeness, LLC. Mike began his career with KPMG and Deloitte. He has been a business owner and advisor for over 30 years serving over 300 businesses in various capacities. Mike focuses on SMB’s with concept development, business modeling, start-up, market adaption, strategy and succession. Mike lives in the Kansas City area. You can contact Mike at mike@bizzeness.com.

Dashboarding – Insights from Mike Duncan, Bizzeness -Part 1

Your dashboard should provide the least amount of the most critical data

In a previous post I discussed the art of dashboarding at a very fundamental level. That post sparked enough interest that I wanted to follow with more discussion about the practical aspects of dashboarding.

Here are three of the most compelling practical questions on the subject:

  1. How should my company be using a dashboard(s)?
  2. What is the basic process for choosing my KPI’s?
  3. What are some common mistakes I should avoid in my dashboarding?

Dashboarding in Your Organization

You have probably seen a view of mission control during a space shuttle mission. There is a large screen on the wall tracking the most basic information about the shuttle – where it is, its projected path on the current trajectory, speed, and other basics. That is Houston’s dashboard.

Dozens of mission specialists are seated around the large screen viewing their own small screens – their own dashboards. Each specialist has an area of responsibility, so each has his/her own dashboard, providing real time data indicating the performance of the key systems for their area of responsibility. For example, the APU specialist probably has a screen showing the amount of power from and condition of each APU – auxiliary power unit.

Mission Control in Houston provides a comprehensive example for your own dashboarding program. The contents and use of each dashboard is determined by the goals and objectives of the user’s area of responsibility – from the big screen on the wall (responsible for mission success) to the screens on each person’s desk (e.g., responsible for APU’s).

Each business has a unique dashboard specific to its objectives and industry, and each critical function of the business has its own dashboard specific to its area of responsibility. The CEO watches the entire business entity, the CFO watches the financial systems, the COO watches operations, and so on. For small and medium size businesses (SMB), the business owner usually gets the privilege of watching all of these areas, making their dashboarding program even more important and more challenging.

Breaking down your organization by functions will help in the layout of your dashboarding program. Each dashboard should be designed to provide glance and go information – the least amount of the most critical data for the function. If there are multiple levels of managed responsibility, a cascading dashboard program should be used – multiple dashboards providing KPI’s for each area of responsibility.

Next Time . . .

Check in on my next post as I conclude with Questions 2 and 3, providing some insight into the process of selecting your KPI’s and address some of the most common and damaging mistakes people make in dashboarding.

Mike DuncanAbout the author of this post:

Mike Duncan is Partner and co-founder of Bizzeness, LLC. Mike began his career with KPMG and Deloitte. He has been a business owner and advisor for over 30 years serving over 300 businesses in various capacities. Mike focuses on SMB’s with concept development, business modeling, start-up, market adaption, strategy and succession. Mike lives in the Kansas City area. You can contact Mike at mike@bizzeness.com.