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Are Your Executive Dashboards Ignored?

Data Communication

Jaime D’Agord



You’ve spent countless hours preparing a great executive dashboard for your organization. After a few months, you realize that no one is using it. While you don’t receive any complaints about the dashboard, you also don’t receive any praise. It may feel like a literal gut punch when you went to great efforts to deliver what the organization said was needed. [See our dashboard examples.]

Here are the most common dashboard adoption issues – and how to overcome them.

Your Dashboard is Beautiful But Not Useful

Dashboards should contain vital information to the business. They should support the objectives of the executive with the stated key performance indicators. Sometimes an analyst builds the dashboards based on existing data without giving much thought to how the business would use it for informing future decision. This may result in a beautiful, but ultimately ineffective dashboard.

Consider if the organization has a contractual obligation of responding to customer issues within a four-hour time limit. If your executive dashboard measures the count of customer issues or common issues received monthly, it would be interesting but not useful. The manager needs actionable measurements, such as what percentage of issues met the response time goal. The data should be further broken out by a team, time frames, and product lines. The manager can determine if the ticket volume surged, if the team is not trained well, or if the product has severe flaws. The dashboard can drive the manager toward a solution.

executive dashboard examples

The dashboard builder must understand the issues the business is tracking to create an effective and useful tool. It may help the dashboard builder to attend the first few meetings where the dashboard is in use to ensure any questions are answered and issues are resolved.

Your Dashboard is Not Trustworthy or Timely

Once a dashboard is made available, it must have reliable data that is updated regularly. In the above scenario, the dashboard is measuring team responsiveness. Consider if the team members discover that the dashboard reported only a few tickets met the four-hour threshold when they know nearly all met the threshold. They are, after all, the ones responding to the customers and entering the information into the database.

If your audience cannot trust your dashboard, it will quickly be ignored. When developing the dashboard, you must ensure that you understand the counting rules. If the users do not update the database promptly, the data will not reflect reality. Thus, the dashboard measurements will appear to be inaccurate. It is essential that you review the dashboard with real results to the users before rollout. This way the team will understand their role in keeping the dashboard accurate.

Other issues may occur when the team is tracking information hourly, but the dashboard is only updated daily. This is an excellent problem to have – it means the team is using the dashboard and wants more. It is also a requirement that changes over time. Initially, the information was measured weekly, but as the team grows and the organization matures, they may want to monitor performance more closely. You may need to consider early on if your tools can support this requirement and how the dashboard can best evolve with the business.

The Location is Secret

Regardless of the size of your organization, both large and small companies alike face the challenge of dashboards being difficult to locate. Perhaps it is published to a website that requires an odd login procedure, it has relocated multiple times, or it may live numerous clicks from the main portal. In some cases, organizations use a cloud-based tool and fail to provide the URL in a central location. The audience for the dashboard either does not know the dashboard exists or cannot find it.

When a dashboard is initially published, there should be a rollout ceremony. During a rollout ceremony, a representative introduces the users to the dashboard, explains how it is used, and provides an

initial, quick training on how best to use it. You want to ensure the user’s login to the tool as part of the ceremony. This process ensures that the users are aware and can locate the dashboard. If the dashboard contains useful information, the rest of the process is easy. This ritual ensures that the organization can identify and use the new tool.

The First Sign of a Problem

You should be concerned when no one is complaining or asking for dashboard modifications. When a dashboard is providing value, the users have improvement ideas or want to see even more information. You should strive for a functional dashboard that drives organizational action. When this happens, the organization understands the value of being data-driven.

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