Globe Bank (a fictitious name to protect the anonymity of one of the world’s leading banks) implemented a management dashboard solution to provide better performance information to their senior executives. After investing a lot of money and time in the dashboard solution the bank realised it had made many of the common mistakes, which rendered their dashboards meaningless and led to a complete redesign of their management dashboards.
The early stages of the dashboards
After consulting with the senior leaders about the kind of information they wanted and a review of the data the bank had available, dashboards were designed and automated schedules were created so that these dashboards were automatically emailed to the key decision-makers in the bank. On a monthly basis these dashboards were delivered by email notification to the senior leaders.
At the beginning, managers enthusiastically opened them and reviewed the content for new insights. However, over time the enthusiasm reduced. After about six months people felt that the dashboards were not really delivering the information they needed and they felt it was difficult to find the relevant insights among the large amounts of information provided.
Disinterest in the dashboards
The fact that managers used the dashboard less became very clear when the automated scheduling came to an end after 12 months, which meant that these dashboards were no longer emailed to the key decision makers.
The telling fact was that most of them didn’t even notice and nobody was asking for the dashboards to be delivered again. This indicated a serious problem with the dashboards and triggered a review of the issues.
Identifying the problems
A set of interviews were conducted with the senior management team to establish the problems with the excising dashboards. Here is a summary of the key findings:
The information was not relevant to the big questions the executives needed an answer to
One of the problems was that the bank was collecting a lot of data for regulatory compliance, risk management, and other financial and non-financial reporting requirements. And instead of thinking very carefully about what data was needed at the senior level to make decisions – too much of the data that was being collected was put onto the dashboards. No clear filters were applied to ensure only relevant and meaningful data was presented. This meant that it was harder to find the relevant bits of information because the dashboards were cluttered with unnecessary information.
The dashboards were seen as too static
It required IT support to change dashboards or create new views or graphs. This led to a situation where the IT department (who maintained the dashboard) was inundated with requests to change this view, add this measure, take away another, etc. It created a backlog of requests for changes that took quite long to implement and often by the time the IT team managed to implement them the requirements had changed again.
The dashboard focused too much on numbers and not enough on context
The data for the dashboards was taken directly from the financial or transactional databases and displayed in graphs or dials. These dials (many looked a bit like the speedometer dial on a car dashboard) provided a snapshot in time but provided little contextual information such as performance against targets or benchmarks, performance over time and trends. It was also felt that there was a lack of narrative explanations which meant the message the data was providing wasn’t clear.
These pitfalls are common among many companies who are trying to deploy management dashboards. The bank went back to the drawing board and made sure that:
Today, the enthusiasm for the dashboards is back and it is seen as a vital tool to inform day-to-day decision making.
About the author
Bernard Marr is a leading performance management expert and business author.
The ICAEW Library & Information Service provides access to leading business, finance and management journals, as well as eBooks.
Further reading on management dashboards is available through the resources below.
Can't find what you're looking for?
The ICAEW Library can give you the right information from trustworthy, professional sources that aren't freely available online. Contact us for expert help with your enquiries and research.
- 03 Jan 2013 (12: 00 AM GMT)
- First published
- 04 Jul 2023 (11: 40 AM BST)
- Page updated with Further reading section, adding related resources on dashboards. These additional resources provide fresh insights, case studies and perspectives on this topic. Please note that the original article from 2013 has not undergone any review or updates.