noventum Corporate Management Dashboard
// Business Intelligence
Challenge for the management of a business
Independent of the management system used, the requirements posed to a tool for business management are the same. The purpose always is to support a corporate performance management cycle (PDCA cycle = Plan -- Do -- Check -- Act). The challenge is to ensure an overall picture for executive management. For this, highly condensed information is needed in an „objectives against performance" comparison that quickly and easily display the truly relevant decision-making factors. In doing so, the different perspectives, from hard financial results all the way to soft success factors, such as employee satisfaction, have to be taken into consideration. These requirements make a Corporate Management Dashboard project always individualised, of the highest importance for business success, and thus interesting.
What are the correct management factors?
The EFQM example (European Foundation for Quality Management)
„What gets measured gets done" – everybody knows this highly quoted sentence. Successful executives are characterised by an above average intuitive sense for the strengths, weaknesses and development potentials of their own company. An IT system will not be able to replace this personal strength. But it could support it and steer the manager‘s eye into the currently necessary direction. For this, the correct Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) need to be identified and defined in a first step, so that the company can be controlled based on them. The criteria model of the EFQM provides for a very well suited structure to identify well balanced KPIs in order to capture one‘s enterprise as a whole, yet, still remain focused. Since the structure of the company‘s process organisation in general does not correspond 1:1 to the criteria model, a mapping of one‘s own business processes is necessary.
The differing nature of the KPIs for business controlling
The bandwidth of the necessary KPIs and their characteristics is wider than in subject-specific BI projects. On the one hand, there are metrics such as the company‘s financial results that can be determined in an automatic fashion by operational systems. However, in addition, there are also a lot of KPIs that, while they are of enormous importance for management, can rarely be found in operational systems. The „assessment of the product portfolio" by one‘s own sales and distribution department or from customer feedback is quite often a highly relevant controlling factor, but also an example for information that is only rarely automatically retrievable. From this, a requirement for actual values results to create a combination of automated provision of data and options for manual entry.
Furthermore, KPIs for business controlling show larger differences in their granularity than is the case in many other BI projects. While factors such as the financial results can be determined on a daily to monthly basis, surveys regarding customer and employee satisfaction are generally performed only once or twice a year. Some indicators can be broken down to individual departments while others only refer to the whole company. This fact increases the complexity in the presentation of the figures in a meaningful overall picture and influence the temporal specification for the intervals of planning, measuring, analysing and taking action.
Particular consideration is required by the very heterogeneous provisioning and/or completion times for the individual KPIs. For instance, individual months may already be closed in a time tracking system on the 3rd workday of the next month, while the month-end closing in financial accounting may only take place several days later. Particularly in case of KPIs with a long time horizon, such as the results of a customer satisfaction survey, it may be that the actual value for a given period may only be available several months later. For this, a concept is required that includes, on a per KPI basis, the maintenance and/or completion periods in the assessments. These periods also play a decisive role for the workflow when entering and releasing KPIs that are to be captured manually.
No sensible management without planning
In order to be able to manage the company, plan values are required in addition to actual values. Through a conversion into a performance value (dependent on the objective against performance deviation), a standardisation of the generally very different units of measure of the individual KPIs (EUR, number of employees, %) into degrees of achievement of objective can be performed and thereby a unified view of the most important indicators can be achieved.
A good Corporate Management Dashboard therefore must contain dedicated planning functionality. In this, the classic questions need to be answered: Which users are allowed to manually maintain requirements for which KPIs? Do these requirements necessitate that they be broken down automatically (e.g. be distributed across individual departments)? Who is authorised to release finalised plan values? Etc. Also, the workflow in these planning processes must be supported – by, for example, automated notification with respect to adherence to the schedule for the entry and release of data.
The „golden section"
A Corporate Management Dashboard is intended to support business management on the executive levels. This objective quite often leads to it being understood to be an omnipotent system, since it triggers the expectation that all information of the individual business segments be covered down to the smallest detail. But a Corporate Management Dashboard cannot be a complete substitute for operational systems or reporting and planning system geared towards specific areas. It is important to achieve the „golden mean" of the respective task in this: a Corporate Management Dashboard should contain in its data base all information necessary for the executive management‘s controlling at the granularity required for this. For detailed analyses such as display of individual receipts or analysis of individual customer surveys, a jump-off target to the respective system should be provided, if possible. The complexity in a large environment generally becomes unmanageable if all areas of the business are mapped in detail.
Corporate Management Dashboard using noventum consulting GmbH as an example
Via the business process „QM & Corporate Controlling", noventum diligently pursues the controlling and continuous improvement and thereby our constant striving for excellence across all business processes. Our performance, customer and employee satisfaction, the honouring by the Ludwig Erhard Prize Initiative as well as the domestic and international successes in the Great Place to Work competitions show that we are on a good track here. The implementation of a Corporate Management Dashboard therefore was a logical step for noventum consulting GmbH. It is now a central element of business management.
The implemented Corporate Management Dashboard consists – on a purely technical level – of a MS SQL Server backend and a BOARD frontend. In this, the BOARD toolkit approach covers the different requirements posed to reporting, dynamic analyses, time series, manual entry and planning workflows. Plan and actual values entered into BOARD can, at the push of a button, be saved to and restored from the central data warehouse in MS SQL Server as backup. Data from operational systems (e.g. financial accounting, customer surveys) are automatically loaded into the central data warehouse and from there into the BOARD database. Actual data that cannot be determined automatically can be intuitively captured manually via the BOARD user interface.
Select functionalities of the noventum Corporate Management Dashboard:
„Cockpit Presentation" of the most important KPIs for managing the Company
- Clear presentation of plan/actual/degree of achievement of objective(s) on the company Level
- Mapping of the most different granularities and Units of measure
- Time series with 4 turns of the year (as necessary for the RADAR assessment in EFQM) or across any periods
- Separated by business processes
- Automatic determination of degrees of achievement of objective(s)
Automatic determination of the „last actual value" for an indicator
- As criterion for the current development trend of the KPIs
- In case of partial year assessments: indication for KPI on quarterly, six month, and annual Level
- Determination of the values, taking into consideration specified maintenance intervals in order to only display periods that have been fully completed
Detail analyses per defined KPI
- Plan/actual values per business solution or service over the course of time
- Jump-off options to operational systems (e.g. customer feedback analysis) or scheduling Systems (Controlling Information System)
Flexible data supply for actual values
- Automation of actual values that can be determined from operational Systems
- Intuitive manual entry of actual values that cannot be determined from operational Systems
- Authorisation concept for the manual maintenance of actual data
- Release concept for the manual maintenance of actual data
- Period blocking/release for the manual maintenance of actual data
- Workflow support for the Provision of manual actual data
- E-mail notifications to the responsible Manager
- Defined intervals for the entry of the actual data
Data entry options and planning functionalities for plan values
- Authorisation concept
- Release concept
- Period blocking/release
- Workflow support
Automated data update and backup concept
- Creation of backups and recovery
- Option for differentiating between production and test data
- Automated data update for actual values
Top prerequisite is to be aware of the right controlling factors for the individual company. Which perspectives have to be taken into consideration? How to find a balance between the visualisation and management with respect to short, mid and long-term objectives?
To keep the complexity of the Corporate Management Dashboard and the effort in continuous operation low, the matching depth of information needs to be limited and the jump-off points to upstream, operational and scheduling systems be defined. Of great importance are decisions regarding which information is obtained automatically from the data sources and which information is prepared manually. Here, by utilising planning and workflow functionality, a Corporate Management Dashboard can ensure that the continuous effort is kept efficient, even while being supplied with current data.
If the Corporate Management Dashboard topic is of interest to you as well, we will gladly be available for an exchange of ideas. We are more than willing to share with you our EFQM experience, our competence as assessor in the Ludwig Erhard Prize, and our BI and CPM expertise. We will also gladly introduce to you our noventum Corporate Management Dashboard as a reference.