Designing a visual framework and dashboard for mission-critical data for large organizations
Dashboards for timely information
Early in 2007, an organization employing over 10,000 people approached Audacious Inquiry to assess an executive-level business intelligence initiative. The organization’s chief information officer believed that leadership at all levels of the enterprise could be empowered to make better decisions if they were delivered timely, mission-critical data in a simple online dashboard.
“As we dug deeper into the organization, we developed a clear picture of the reporting processes that are in place,” said Alice Wang, Audacious Inquiry’s project manager. “By conducting dozens of interviews, we’ve established where reporting needs are currently being met and where they can be improved.”
Because of the client organization’s size and structure—numerous facilities throughout the state of Maryland, assembled over a number of years via acquisition—phase one of the project constituted a fact-finding mission. The scope was narrowed to the organization’s flagship location, a large and complex enterprise in its own right. Over the course of one month, members of the Audacious Inquiry team interviewed dozens of key personnel at all levels of the organization.
The results of the interviews included: a detailed analysis of more than twenty systems and data repositories currently used; an assessment of each system’s export capabilities and constraints; an accounting of dozens of reports and reporting processes, including an assessment of the potential for automating manual processes; a list of unmet reporting needs, as expressed by interview subjects; a framework for organizing reports according to five previously-articulated and well-accepted business priorities; and a preliminary list of key performance indicators (KPIs) for high-level decision support.
The development of KPIs focused on executive level indicators while also acknowledging a future need for departmental and operational level ones. During the interview process, Audacious Inquiry:
- Began to build consensus on the list of top-level KPIs
- Identified owners for each KPI
- Defined components and metrics for each KPI
- Determined the update frequency needed for each KPI
To accompany the phase one deliverable, Audacious Inquiry worked with a partner, a graphic design firm, to develop a preliminary visual framework for the presentation of both flat-file and automated reporting. As the project continues, a functional business intelligence dashboard for the organization’s flagship location can be built around this framework.
“We believe that organizational efficiency and improved decision-making can be achieved by delivering critical, real-time data to executives,” said Christopher Brandt, Audacious Inquiry’s managing partner. “Nevertheless, business intelligence implementations are lengthy and complex: laying the appropriate groundwork is essential.”