I’m not alone, I suspect, in continuously seeing applications for the old adage – “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” In preparing for this column on executive dashboards I have to admit that it came resoundingly to mind again.
With growing attention to IT delivering value to its business and organizations, along with a building awareness of the need for much improved IT governance you would think we would have a lot that’s new to say here. All the more so given the fanfare around social networking, data warehousing, balanced scorecards, cloud delivery systems and the changing role of IT from “provider” to “broker.”
So when the sheer volume of noise that came cascading down from all of the above lands back down on initials that stand for “Service Level Agreement,” (or Special Libraries Association and Symbionese Liberation Army) I have to admit to experiencing a bit of a letdown.
EMA data shows that SLAs are where most IT and some non-IT executives want to start with executive dashboards. And, in many respects, this makes sense: People start with what they know. “Service Level Agreements” and “Operational Level Agreements” along with good old “Key Performance Indicators” are familiar turf to IT professionals and executives. And it wasn’t very long ago that getting a solid SLA/OLA strategy was viewed as a very challenging objective that required real maturity.
For the most part it still is -- although cloud computing has raised some additional challenges to “traditional” SLA management. But even without cloud, good SLAs are as core as they can and should be are really just the beginning to an open minded assessment of what you should be looking for in an executive dashboard.
In this column I’m going to talk about the executive dashboard investment from two perspectives: the internal approach and external approach.
Your approach should begin with answering the question, who are you and therefore what do you need? CIOs clearly inhabit a land of shifting sands where internal metrics and external metrics both need to be mutually reinforcing. This is easier said than done -- especially when both internal and external options are examined in their full complexity breadth.
So suppose, for instance, your first priority is to get a handle on internal governance? You want to make sure that your organization is efficient, does what it should according to pre-established expectations, has solid processes and objectives defined and is fully accountable. And you want to know who’s responsible at a managerial level when something goes wrong.
Then you might look at metrics from the following sources as just a few examples:
Now for a sample of a few critical external indicators:
EMA data, by the way, indicates that most CIOs and other leading executives are willing to spend about $250,000 for something that approximates some of the above. And last time I looked, no one really expected to get all of the above in a single place. Which is a good thing because there wasn’t any one place to get anything like the above in a cohesive, current, easy to use way.
Which raises the question: What realistically are your dashboard options in Q2 2011?
In my next column, I’m going to look at two approaches to dashboard design: IT data warehouse and what I call Layered, or the CMS design.
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