Dashboards have been an important part of business performance management (BPM) since its inception. While BPM consists of many components (relational databases, OLAP cubes, financial applications, reporting tools, etc.), it is the dashboard that actually delivers on the basic promise of performance management: helping a company measure and manage its performance against established goals. In some organizations, this has been the first element of BPM implemented. The problem with this approach is that some of the required plan data may not be in a usable form (often sitting in spreadsheets), and the strategic metrics that should be tracked by the dashboard are probably still to be determined. For this reason, the majority of companies often see the dashboard as an element that comes near the end of their core performance management implementation. Once the BPM technology foundation has been put in place and the strategic discussions have occurred, the performance management dashboard can complete the initial core performance management project phase.

Because BPM has been an important initiative for many organizations for several years, quite a few companies are now at the point of evaluating how to proceed with performance management dashboards. In my work with organizations implementing dashboards, it has become clear that there is still some confusion around the basics. The intent of this column is to bring clarity to the fundamentals.

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