business dashboard

Needle in the Red – Read this Before You Build Another Dashboard

Solid dashboards drive business results and help ensure you’re measuring what matters.

When Ed Powers sat down to write his excellent paper, “Seven Tips for Building a Great Dashboard,” he definitely did his homework. This paper gives you real, scientific insight for how to ensure your dashboards measure what matters.

One of the first times I saw a dashboard was at an agency meeting I attended as the company PR person. This dashboard measured “impressions,” which is the public relations word for estimated media views of a certain piece of PR—earned media, coverage of an event, etc. As I sat on a cool but uncomfortable chair at a Midtown Manhattan boutique agency, the presenter was rhapsodizing about all of the “green lights” on his dashboard. Listen, I’m no scientist. But as he was presenting his dashboard, I realized that the facts he was measuring were completely without statistical value for our project.

I won’t go into detail here, but the gist of the matter was that the numbers looked good; they were measuring real things; but they weren’t linked to the project’s end goals. Or even collateral goals.

I understand that PR puts a dollar value on these “impressions” to justify ROI. They do measure the reach of your messages. I understand that the fully capable, creative and all-around-lovely PR person making the presentation was justifying their agency’s existence to the people who sign the checks. Yet the dashboard was a one-off, unlinked to the true metrics of what would signal our project’s success.

Use Ed Power’s paper to make sure you’re not making the same mistakes. You can learn how to:

  • Ensure your dashboards are linked for operational and strategic benefits
  • Create value from actionable metrics that track technology, quality, customer satisfaction and other key deliverables that drive your business
  • Translate your company’s value proposition into day-to-day operations

When I got back to my office that day, (after drinking way too many lattes out of the agency’s giant, mid-nineties espresso machine) I sat down with my boss to try to figure out what was bugging me about the presentation. She told me, “Patty, we have to make this spend. They have to prove it’s working. Let it go.”

Thankfully, I’ve seen many dashboards since then that truly measure what matters. At their best, they save companies from doing way too much in the wrong direction or getting way too little in return for their measurement efforts. I don’t think smart companies ever “let go” of using metrics that matter.