Dashboarding – Insights from Mike Duncan, Bizzeness -Part 1

Your dashboard should provide the least amount of the most critical data

In a previous post I discussed the art of dashboarding at a very fundamental level. That post sparked enough interest that I wanted to follow with more discussion about the practical aspects of dashboarding.

Here are three of the most compelling practical questions on the subject:

  1. How should my company be using a dashboard(s)?
  2. What is the basic process for choosing my KPI’s?
  3. What are some common mistakes I should avoid in my dashboarding?

Dashboarding in Your Organization

You have probably seen a view of mission control during a space shuttle mission. There is a large screen on the wall tracking the most basic information about the shuttle – where it is, its projected path on the current trajectory, speed, and other basics. That is Houston’s dashboard.

Dozens of mission specialists are seated around the large screen viewing their own small screens – their own dashboards. Each specialist has an area of responsibility, so each has his/her own dashboard, providing real time data indicating the performance of the key systems for their area of responsibility. For example, the APU specialist probably has a screen showing the amount of power from and condition of each APU – auxiliary power unit.

Mission Control in Houston provides a comprehensive example for your own dashboarding program. The contents and use of each dashboard is determined by the goals and objectives of the user’s area of responsibility – from the big screen on the wall (responsible for mission success) to the screens on each person’s desk (e.g., responsible for APU’s).

Each business has a unique dashboard specific to its objectives and industry, and each critical function of the business has its own dashboard specific to its area of responsibility. The CEO watches the entire business entity, the CFO watches the financial systems, the COO watches operations, and so on. For small and medium size businesses (SMB), the business owner usually gets the privilege of watching all of these areas, making their dashboarding program even more important and more challenging.

Breaking down your organization by functions will help in the layout of your dashboarding program. Each dashboard should be designed to provide glance and go information – the least amount of the most critical data for the function. If there are multiple levels of managed responsibility, a cascading dashboard program should be used – multiple dashboards providing KPI’s for each area of responsibility.

Next Time . . .

Check in on my next post as I conclude with Questions 2 and 3, providing some insight into the process of selecting your KPI’s and address some of the most common and damaging mistakes people make in dashboarding.

Mike DuncanAbout the author of this post:

Mike Duncan is Partner and co-founder of Bizzeness, LLC. Mike began his career with KPMG and Deloitte. He has been a business owner and advisor for over 30 years serving over 300 businesses in various capacities. Mike focuses on SMB’s with concept development, business modeling, start-up, market adaption, strategy and succession. Mike lives in the Kansas City area. You can contact Mike at


Dashboarding – A great perspective

Dashboarding remains one of the most important topics in the Business Analytics area. Most of my clients are actively working on deploying them. Back in January dashboarding was one of the key topics at the Gartner BI Summit. The broad interest in our dashboarding workshops further shows just how important this topic is for companies.


Business Analytics basically allows us to make better business decisions by providing answers to three key questions:

  • How am I doing?
  • Why is that so?
  • What should I be doing?

Dashboards do a fine job with answering the first question: You quickly assess the current situation, you identify potential opportunities and risks. But to do that effectively, dashboards need to be designed in the proper way:

  • They require the right mix of information
  • The information needs to be displayed in a manner that effectively delivers the story
  • The technology needs to support proper interaction so that the next two questions can be answered.


Last week, Google+ recommended an excellent blog post by Mike Duncan from the business advisory firm Bizzeness. Mike provides some simple but very effective thoughts about dashboards. I highly recommend reading his short post. There are some great ideas in there that can help you articulate the purpose and value of a dashboard to a broader audience.

Dashboarding Post on



Mike and I ended up discussing his post via Twitter and email. I am very happy that he has agreed write two guest posts on this blog (Performance Ideas) next week. The articles will focus on interacting with dashboards, selecting proper KPIs and avoiding some common problems. Make sure to check in on Tuesday of next week or simply subscribe to Performance Ideas via RSS feed or email.

Analytics Dashboarding IBM Cognos

How to build offline management dashboards

Old fashioned dashboard
Modern dashboarding tools?

A few months ago, I sat right next to a guy on a plane. Once we were up in the air, he pulled out a big stack of paper reports. He equipped himself with a ruler, a marker, a pencil and a calculator. All that on the tiny fold-down table in economy class. Didn’t look like fun. But to be fair, most planes still do not offer WIFI and we still have to get our work done. So, what is the alternative to paper reports? PDF is ok, but it is impossible to interact with the data. Excel is ok, too. But Excel is not secure and potentially too complicated. And none of these options are suited for building effective management dashboards.



What can we do then? IBM introduced IBM Cognos Active Report with the latest Cognos 10 release. It basically allows report authors to develop interactive management dashboards and reporting applications for offline use.