Less is More with Executive Dashboards

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They say a picture can paint a thousand words… and where could that be more useful than in communicating the status of an entire network?

 executive dashboard

monitoring contract

 

Good managed service providers can have a challenge when it comes to renewing contracts and justifying their fees.  If they have done the job well, there will have been few, if any, service outages, making the service provider effectively invisible to the client organization.  “Who are they?  They don’t do anything.” For indeed, if you’ve proactively maintained the environment effectively, you will appear to have done “nothing”.  And who wants to pay for another 12 month contract for “nothing” to be done?

 

This is a little flippant, of course.  Contracts require service level agreements in the first place and the task of negotiating a contract renewal depends on proving that the SLA was met through reports and statistics.  But how much effort is involved in this process?  How much of a drain on Account Management is this administrative task going to take?  Is there a better way to keep your success in the face of your customers and maintain the sense of value?

 

Executive dashboards the have long held a position as low-effort/high-value views of performance, whether it’s sales performance, financial performance or technical performance.  The key to an effective dashboard is to boil complicated data down to what’s really important to know.  The information presented takes away the noise of the raw data, presenting the key trend or points to empower decision making.  What is appropriate to display depends on the scenario, so it’s also important to be able to customize any dashboard to the specific use case.

 

It also helps if the dashboard looks good and is intuitive – especially if the information is to be consumed by customers rather than internal teams.  The abstraction of the raw data into meaningful and actionable information means that pictures are generally used more than statistics.  We use the weather symbols, for example, on our dashboards because they’re assessable to all no matter what their role or technical expertise.  If it’s showing “sunny”, all is well, but if there’s a raincloud, be concerned!

 

This Forbes article lists 5 key benefits users can take from a good exec dashboard.  In the context of IT service management, these would be:

  • VisibilityIT Directors/Service Delivery Managers can readily see how service delivery is performing against agreed availability SLO’s
  • Continuous Improvement – using “Top 5” or “Bottom 5” in reports can feed into improvement initiatives
  • Increased Efficiency – reports are automatically derived from the raw IT monitoring data and can be scheduled or produced on-demand
  • Performance against planSLAs constitute the plan, and the dashboards attainment against those objectives now or over a period of time
  • Staff Improvements – outages of technology can be matched to support teams to show how a group of individuals are contributing to the overall businesses service goals

 

A great dashboard can’t do the job for you, but it can make doing the job, prioritizing tasks and reporting impact a lot easier and more effective.

Author :

Kevin Dillon

Kevin Dillon 

Product Development Manager at Coservit

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