One of the large business performance management (BPM) vendors recently ran a "Dare to Dashboard" challenge. The point they sought to make was that with their software, setting up a dashboard is quick and easy. That may be true, but setting up a dashboard is not the difficult part. Populating it with relevant metrics is a different story. A dashboard is mainly an interface, a display vehicle for your scorecard of key metrics. Figuring out what to include on your scorecard - now that's tough.

Many good articles have been written about what makes a key metric and how to determine key metrics for your organization. The problem is that the authors don't know your organization. The senior executives who need to define the company strategy, goals, drivers and key metrics that follow are usually tied up with more pressing business matters. Even if you could get them to spend the time to focus on this, there may not be universal agreement. So what can you do? Simply abandon all hope for an executive dashboard? Fortunately, a relatively new invention, the "industry dashboard," may just save the day.

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