In past columns, we have explored the definitions, basic concepts and themes of both corporate performance management (CPM) and Six Sigma. We will now shift the focus back to the CPM dashboard. Over the next several columns, we will discuss specific dashboard design considerations and components, and how Six Sigma can streamline the dashboard development effort. You may recall that in my first column (June 2003 issue of DM Review), we defined the CPM dashboard as a customized graphical interface that delivers mission- critical information on a real-time basis to business decision-makers via a variety of visuals, including gauges, alerts, charts, tables and spreadsheets. Keep in mind, however, that CPM dashboards can only be effective if the metrics they capture are aligned with enterprise goals, strategies and objectives, and are proactively leveraged to optimize enterprise-wide decision making and collaboration.
There has been an ongoing debate as to the benefits of a scorecard framework versus a dashboard solution to implement performance management solutions. Early in the debate, scorecards were characterized as visual cockpits to help manage the business at the enterprise-wide level while dashboards were focused on measuring the business at the functional and operational levels. Scorecards were strategic in nature, focused on enterprise alignment and leveraged frameworks such as a balanced scorecard or value-added constructs. Scorecards were about effectiveness doing the right things. Alternatively, dashboards were considered to be more tactical with a process optimization flavor, local accountability, and extensive business intelligence infrastructure. Dashboards were about efficiency doing things right. I propose to you that performance management is now moving to a new level where the lines of demarcation between scorecards and dashboards have blurred, and that the new mantra for performance management reflects the best of both worlds doing the right things right. What you call your cockpit is less about the nomenclature and more about content, visuals and functionality. For our purposes, we will continue to use the term CPM dashboard to reflect the scorecard/dashboard amalgamation.
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