Still, dashboards have drawn some flak. Critics say CEOs can miss the big picture if they're glued to their computer screens. GE agrees with that point. While business unit chiefs such as Campbell are active dashboard users, CEO Jeffrey Immelt is not, since he focuses on issues such as broad strategy and deal making that the technology can't yet capture. More

In order to make strategic decisions about IT investment in an organization, executives must be able to measure, compare, and respond to varying performance indicators across many projects. An IT governance executive dashboard solution based on the Microsoft Office System can help align IT spending with business strategy by automating access to critical... more

Executive dashboard software

Definition:  Executive dashboards (also known as an ‘enterprise’ or ‘digital’ dashboards) are powerful management software tools used by executives to gain an overall view of the health of an enterprise.

 Executive dashboards can be customised to display business data across a wide range of areas, ranging from sales figures to manufacturing statistics, allowing executives a real time birds-eye view of business performance.

Features of Executive Dashboards

In order for executives to make informed strategy decisions to achieve the objectives of an enterprise it is essential that they have access to up to date, accurate information on the overall performance of the business.

The executive dashboard (also called business dashboard, corporate dash-board, and dashboard for executives) is a powerful software solution that can provide this information. By pulling in data from a range of disparate business systems and information databases it becomes possible to build an accurate picture of business performance.

executive dashboard softwareExecutive dashboards are so called because of the obvious metaphor of the business as a vehicle. Executives (drivers) need an instrument panel to provide them with the information they need to ‘drive’ the business.

Modern digital dashboards / business dashboards are designed by many vendors to work ‘out of the box’, enabling managers to simply install them on their office desktop or home computer and configure them to track performance across a wide range of business processes. Dashboards incorporate powerful information visualisation tools, allowing executives to manipulate vast volumes of data into easily understandable graphical formats such as graphs, pie charts and gauges.

Perhaps most importantly, executive dashboards are configured to display performance of high-level processes, allowing executives to get a simple, broad overview of the performance of specific areas of the business or (see also: Key Performance Indicators). If a particular area becomes a cause for concern it is possible to drill down into lower level data to provide more information.

Benefits of Executive Dashboards

It’s clear to see that an executive dashboard tool can be a powerful aid to decision making. Beyond the simple graphics, dashboards offer a range of specific benefits to executives:

* Faster Decision Making

Before the development of the executive dashboard the process of gathering business performance information for management was both time consuming and impractical. As Oracle CEO Larry Ellison complained in Business Week Magazine:

Before the Internet, Ellison says, taking the pulse of a company was sort of ridiculous. To get the latest sales information, he would call several people and wait days for them to process financial reports that often were out of date by the time he got them. "You would use your cell phone and work on feelings," he says.

The executive dashboard allows busy executives an accurate real time overview of business information. Clearly, the possession of such real time data enables executives to make quicker management decisions.

* Identification of Negative Trends

This access to real time business data enables executives to identify and correct potentially dangerous negative trends before they cause damage to the business. If the dashboard suggests a steady decline in sales, executives can liaise with marketing staff to formulate new advertising strategies. Before the dashboard, sales information may have taken days or even weeks to land on the desks of the executive level, resulting in reduced revenue and more sluggish responses.

* Business Process Management

Executive dashboards can highlight inefficiencies in business processes that may not be obvious to men on the front lines. The birds-eye view of business processes can help managers gain an objective, facts-based image of processes that they may not get from their department heads and project managers.

* Strategy Alignment and Organisational Goal Generation

An overview of business performance can aid managers in the development of new business strategies. With a clear overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the enterprise it can be much easier and more effective to formulate ideas about the best way to achieve business objectives.

Bill Gates (digital dashboard) claims that executive dashboards promote strategy and goal generations by putting the ‘corporate memory’ of the enterprise into a digital form:

"It's about changing those processes within companies to be totally digital,"

* Remote Viewing

 Most executive dashboard software can connect with corporate information systems from remote locations via the Internet. This capability makes it easy for executives to keep up to date with business performance whether in or out of the office.

This feature can be especially useful for executives whose role necessitates extensive travelling, allowing them to stay connected to the enterprise while away on business.