Using Dashboards to Drive Operational Performance Improvements

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Operational PerformanceOperational dashboards are used to monitor all aspects of the business from an operational perspective. These types of dashboards visualize data such as key performance metrics and enable businesses to improve operational performance as a result. Here’s how…

Contain Relevant Data

In order for operational dashboards to truly be effective for driving performance improvements, they need to operate in a streamlined capacity. This means that they should only contain the data that is necessary to make quick, real-time decisions based on operational performance. By only showing a snapshot of data related to performance, this decreases the possibility of missing key performance anomalies that could end up costing the enterprise money.

Allow for Frequent Updates

What makes operational dashboards most effective is that they are designed to keep operations moving smoothly. All the information that is needed should not only be present on the dashboard, but it should also be updated frequently or in real-time. This will enable all those who are responsible for business operations to be alerted to any problems exactly when they surface (or close to it), which will help the business run much more effectively … and, hopefully, profitably!

Provide Detailed Information When Needed

While operational dashboards should only contain high-level performance data, sometimes more information is needed. As a result, it is useful to provide a way for users to drill down into the details supporting the dashboard, if necessary. Rolling over a bar in a graph or drilling down on an element within a chart can bring up context-specific information or open up an entirely new views of information that enhance dashboard-generated observations. Often, these details are needed to determine the root causes of performance anomalies, provide greater insights and help users make better decisions.

Automate Supply-Chain Management

Operational dashboards can be particularly effective in driving business processes, too, because they can help automate supply chain management. For instance, dashboards can be set up to monitor inventory levels and when stock falls too low at a particular location or warehouse, this will generate an alert. From there, a decision can be made as to what to do to replenish the inventory.

Another aspect of supply chain management that a dashboard can help with is to show whether product profits are where they should be or if manufacturing costs are too high. For example, a dashboard could show that on-time delivery of parts has improved, but profits are flat. Further analysis might indicate that profits are flat because of higher supplier costs related to smaller and more frequent part orders. Analysis and action resulting from these insights can then be used to leverage improvements in the operational process. For instance, a higher volume of parts could be ordered less often, resulting in better supplier pricing and profit margins.

Process-driven business intelligence like this lets organizations work smarter and not harder by automating the decision-making process. This automation is accomplished by embedding various BI functions into dashboards to reduce the need for a physical action or to increase the timeliness of a response. Some key functions that can be embedded are data visualization components, analytical views of more granular supporting data, and key performance alerts. The result? A more strategic approach to managing operational performance.

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This post was written by Pat Hennel