In the 4.0 era, the manufacturing industry has given itself a makeover with a large-scale digital transformation, aiming to boost efficiency and operational performance. One notable aspect of this transformation is that everyone is increasingly involved in managing their company data to optimize production, and therefore increase revenue.
From this perspective, Business Intelligence is a great way to manage, and especially to use, this type of data. However, BI provides more than just operational support: it also serves a strategic purpose, which leads us to a very important topic for modern companies: access to information.
Of course, BI offers a comprehensive solution for aggregating, analyzing and extracting useful information from company data. But if this information is hard to access or interpret, it may not be good enough. This is where Dashboards come in: they can be used to share essential information in an effective way with readers, allowing them to draw up a specific action plan.
This article will focus on the strategic dashboard, looking at how it can help with business management, as compared to other alternatives.
An effective tool: strategic dashboards to guide decision-making
Tracking long-term strategy is crucial for any company, and the strategic dashboard is the ideal tool for anyone who wants to do this successfully. This type of dashboard presents a summary of the organization’s performance over a specific period, and is generally designed to enable upper management to compare the performance measurements with the company’s strategic objectives.
However, a strategic dashboard doesn’t just provide information. As we showed in our case study on strategic dashboards, this type of dashboard aims guide leaders in their strategic decision-making, and helps them implement concrete actions. For a strategic dashboard to be truly effective and galvanize action, it should contain the following elements.
The results: a quantitative performance summary with important KPIs
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the numerical results that correspond to set objectives.
- Team productivity;
- Employee satisfaction;
These are the central takeaways regarding the company’s objectives and results:
- Trends related to results;
- Whether or not objectives were met (and variances from these objectives);
- Products that performed well or not;
- The reasons behind the results;
The important thing to remember is that a strategic dashboard is the result of in-depth analysis conducted by experts on the company’s data, which leads to usable results. Since the information is analyzed in advance, executives no longer are in charge of interpreting the data. Instead, they can consider the recommended actions and make decisions.
An overview of our strategic dashboard for decision-making
Of course, a strategic dashboard is not the only decision-making tool for sharing information and planning future actions. There are other tools that can meet some basic company needs, even if their functionality is more limited.
The main alternatives are as follows.
It’s impossible not to include this tool, as it has become integral to the daily operations of most companies. In addition to being user-friendly, Excel has a wide variety of features for creating advanced, comprehensive reports, ideal for presenting data in an interactive way.
These reports are designed manually by dedicated teams (BI or analysts), often presented over several pages, with a summary of the company’s results. The report may, for instance, be created as a PowerPoint-type slideshow. This type of presentation generally has a high-level view of the results, with some details, and sometimes also proposed actions. These reports are often addressed to middle management.
This type of support can be a printed version of the types of reports listed above and produced manually. Like generic reports, these present the main results over several pages, with more or fewer details, and sometimes proposed actions.
Compared to the alternatives, here are the main advantages of a strategic dashboard:
- A standardized display format;
- A high level of details and option to quickly generate new data from existing models;
- Limited error since there is no human data handling;
- Automated recommendations from forecasted data;
- High level of interactivity in reports;
- Management of security and information sharing.
Without a doubt, this comparison shows that the strategic dashboard is the best tool for high-level strategic questions.
Choose the right tool for your situation
Using a strategic dashboard doesn’t preclude you from using other tools, such as Excel, generic reports, or others. However, the most important thing is to choose the right tool to meet your needs.
No matter the decision-making tool you select, it should be precise and strategic. And yet, it is clear that the strategic dashboard is a natural choice, because by definition, it groups together all of the useful elements for making the right decisions, and is automated on top of that.
To learn more, we invite you to read the following two articles: The ‘Action Dashboard’ (An Alternative To Crappy Dashboards) and Strategic & Tactical Dashboards: Best Practices, Examples.