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Strategic Versus Tactical
Designing Dashboard Data Delivery

by Richard Blahunka, Product Manager , CBIPThursday, September 06, 2007

Cascading Measures

Is the dashboard content a reflection of enterprise metrics or localized metrics? If dashboard content and metrics are unified throughout the enterprise and cascade down from the top of the organization to the bottom, then these cascading measures should be supported by a unified Inventory of Data, Library of Business Rules, and Portfolio of Information to produce a “single version of the truth.”

However, if the dashboard is a reflection of localized and/or tactical metrics, then the need for a high degree of consistency and uniformity in all dashboards is less important. This is because localized and tactical dashboards are less likely to cascade throughout the enterprise. Localized and tactical dashboard content is more likely to percolate up through the organization rather than cascade down. Similarly, it is not likely that the Inventory of Data, Library of Business Rules, and Portfolio of Information will be unified across the enterprise to produce localized or tactical dashboard content; instead, localized dashboards are usually comprised of less formal and less structured sources and methods.

Top-down cascading dashboard content will generally be much more consistent than bottom-up aggregated dashboard content. This is because top-down cascading measures are more likely to use unified content, whereas, bottom-up measures aggregate many disparate sets of data and business rules needing to be reconciled at each aggregation point.

Agility Versus Consistency

The critical challenge is to balance agility with consistency in publishing both localized and enterprise-level dashboard content. Consistency is a hallmark of content published from an enterprise data warehouse. Agility is a hallmark of content published from a dynamic business analytics environment. These two hallmarks are not in opposition. In fact, consistency and agility are hallmarks of state-of-the-art Business Intelligence Competency Center (BICC) approaches to information delivery.

BICC is characterized by highly collaborative relationships between technology teams and business groups -- providing all of the robustness and consistency of enterprise data warehousing solutions with the responsiveness of localized Business Intelligence (BI) solutions.

Improved agility and consistency of content delivery for dashboard measures achieves the following BICC Program benefits:

  • Improved partnerships between IT and the business community
  • Improved alignment of the enterprise business and IT plans
  • Improved governance and prioritization of content delivery
  • Improved content delivery architectures and technologies
  • Improved content delivery methodologies and processes
  • Improved organizational structure for content delivery
  • Improved best practices and problem solving

The bottom-line is that when IT and the business community are highly aligned, delivering dashboard content does, indeed, become increasingly agile and consistent.

Summary

Dashboard content consistency is achieved by design not by chance. Careful design and management of source data and business rules results in consistent dashboard information. Dashboards designed to cascade top-down through the enterprise achieve consistency by utilizing common Inventory of Data, Library of Business Rules, and Portfolio of Information. Conversely, having a disparate mix of Inventory of Data, Library of Business Rules, and Portfolio of Information is the signature of a tactical bottom-up approach to dashboard deployment. That will likely produce agile dashboards at the expense of irreconcilable aggregations as roll-ups push up through the enterprise. The critical challenge is to balance agility with consistency and localized measures with enterprise measures. Creating a highly aligned and collaborative culture within the enterprise is the key to achieving success.

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Richard Blahunka is a Product Manager at Lockheed Martin based in New Orleans working on BI applications with the United States Navy.  He has over twenty years of business analytics experience predominantly in Fortune 500 companies within the military, utility, airline, telecommunications, banking, manufacturing, and education industries.

Richard can be reached at richard.a.blahunka@lmco.com or richard.blahunka.ctr@navy.mil .

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