With the transition to the 4.0 era, the manufacturing sector is taking on a new face as it embarks on a major digital transformation to make it more efficient and effective in its operations. One aspect of this transformation lies in the growing involvement of each of the players in the management of their corporate data in order to optimize production and thus increase revenues.
From this point of view, Business Intelligence is the preferred solution for the effective management of this type of data, and especially for its exploitation. However, beyond the operational aspect, the stakes are also strategic, and this brings us to a very important concept of the modern company: access to information.
Of course, BI offers a complete solution that enables you to aggregate, analyze, and extract exploitable information from enterprise data, but if this information remains difficult to access or difficult to interpret, this may not be enough. To overcome this, dashboards allow essential information to be shared effectively with the audience, giving them the ability to develop a specific action plan.
In this guide, we will focus on the strategic dashboard and try to understand what it brings to the strategic management of a company in comparison to other available alternatives.
An effective tool: the action-oriented strategic dashboard
Monitoring long-term strategy is crucial for any company, and the strategic dashboard is the ideal tool for anyone wishing to carry out this mission. This type of dashboard presents a summary of the organization’s performance over a given period of time and is generally designed to allow the management team to assess performance measures against the company’s strategic objectives.
However, a strategic dashboard is not simply an informative tool. Indeed, as we illustrated in our case study on strategic dashboards, the purpose of this type of dashboard is to guide managers in their strategic decision-making and to help them implement concrete actions. Thus, for a strategic dashboard to be truly effective and actionable, it should include the following elements.
Results: a quantitative summary of performance with key KPIs
These are the key performance indicators or KPIs that represent the numerical results relating to the objectives set. For example:
- the benefits generated,
These are the areas of interest related to the company’s objectives and results:
- the trends related to the results,
- whether or not objectives were met (and any deviations from those objectives),
- products that performed well or not,
- the reasons for the results,
What is important to remember is that a strategic dashboard is the result of in-depth analyses initiated by experts in connection with the company’s data, leading to usable results. Since the analysis of the information is carried out upstream, the interpretation work is no longer left to the managers, but rather they are asked to think about the recommended actions, and they are encouraged to make decisions.
Of course, the dashboard is not the only medium for sharing information. There are different tools that can be used and that offer a different or complementary approach as a way of working.
The main alternatives are the following.
Impossible not to include this tool as it is an integral part of the daily life of the vast majority of companies. In addition to its ease of use, Excel has a multitude of features that allow you to create advanced and complete reports, ideal for presenting data interactively.
These are reports designed by dedicated teams (BI or Analysts), often presented on multiple pages, and summarizing the company’s results. The report can, for example, be in the form of a slide. It usually includes a high-level overview of the results, with some details, and occasionally, proposals for action. These reports are often addressed to middle management.
Believe it or not, even though the trend is towards paperless, paper documents are still being used in some organizations. Like typical reports, it consists of the presentation of the main results on several pages, with detail, and sometimes proposals for action.
The following table compares the different supports mentioned above in the strategic dashboard against the following criteria :
- ease of reading,
- level of detail,
- presence of recommendations,
- level of automation,
- ease of sharing.
Without a doubt, the strategic dashboard is the most appropriate tool for high-level strategic issues.
Knowing how to choose the right tool according to circumstances
The use of a strategic dashboard does not preclude the use of another tool, be it Excel, a typical report or any other medium. On the other hand, the most important thing is to choose the medium that meets your needs: if, for example, your audience asks for more details about the results, Excel or a report will certainly be able to meet this request.
To find out more on this subject, we invite you to read the following two articles: The ‘Action Dashboard’ (An Alternative To Crappy Dashboards) and Strategic & Tactical Dashboards: Best Practices, Examples.