New management dashboard

Sharepoint ConsultancyFantastic! My new management dashboard has been delivered – what is this?

Well it’s a series of pages on my laptop/smart phone/iPad which I can flick through and it gives me up to the second information on how our business is performing, with a swish, flick, swipe, squeeze or tap; under-achieving staff (of course we have none) can be identified, customers who need love identified, and customers taking me closer to an untimely grave dealt with accordingly, and this is truly great.
Any manager knows that getting useful management information is time-consuming, expensive and never really truly satisfactory. So problem solved, right? Well yes in fact it is and to be honest this stuff is fantastic, really. I have access to almost any measure of my business without once having to ask for it: it is consistent, flexible and instant; I can delve into figures and perform comparisons on whim, and I could go on about it, but I won’t. I’ll go on about something that occurred to me…

What my dashboards actually tell me, for the most part (and there are exceptions) is what I already know. It is no real surprise that Jenkins (the slacker) is lazy, it’s also no real surprise that XYZ corp is the worst client we have. The detail and the accessibility of that detail, and the context in which they are presented is wonderful but can we do more?

What I really need to know, is what I don’t know and that means making noise useful: putting it in context, by which I mean, snippets of conversation, feelings and opinion, available in a digestible relevant format. What I really need to know, in addition to XYZ corp’s poor performance is how I can turn that around. Having my aforementioned data in the palm of my hand is wonderful, but this is only half the story, and the real story is in understanding what’s going on on the ground and how as a manager I can help our team in XYZ corp.

I know from recent experience of reviewing my numbers, graphs and trends that one particular client is working very well, no issues, targets met and so on. Great the management are happy, but is that really the case? In this instance NO! A high quality job has been done (I’ve seen it, it’s good), but we’ve got our knickers in a knot when it comes to communication and the clients perception is that what we’ve delivered is not really up to it. A nasty case of perception is reality, easily solved at our end, client is now happy – but this could have been avoided so easily and highlights the reliance on so called management information to determine the health or your company. Whatever your preferred poisons: SAP, spread sheets, crystal reports, SAGE et al we can build you a wonderful interactive dashboard to aggregate all that wonderful data in to a meaningful picture and that’s fantastic but, none of that data can actually tell you what your people know, none can capture that experience that should tell a decent manager that there are problems ahead – and so to the point….

…. Mobile tech is great, and using it so we can give managers good quality data is great too and we can make them feel good by providing them with a cool gizmo to present it on, a perfect first step, but the opportunity is integrating this into our workforce to capture data, capture the mood of an organisation, and I want feelings to compliment my facts. Once we’ve practically achieved this interaction then the picture we present of our companies on our fancy devices begins to tell the whole truth and that really is a step forward.

We are currently implementing an update to our time recording system (our lifeblood) when we collect the traditional data; time worked, client day rate etc. We will also be collecting more subjective “data” about how our staff are feeling about each piece of work, a few stabs of a finger at some icons is all it will take – our plan is this will give us a much richer picture of our performance as a company, allow us to quickly identify problem areas, and avoid the need for over communication. We will now know the corporate mood of our company – and when I know it (which should be soon after) I’ll let you know.

About the author: Ben Gower is CEO of Perspicuity, and has been busy exploring dashboards on iPad, Windows Phone 7 and SharePoint. 2010.
About the company: Perspicuity is a Gold level company in the Microsoft Partner Network specialising in the SharePoint platform, and is one of a small number of specially selected Cloud Accelerate Partners.