It's Time to Get a New One...
The Rusty KPI Gauge
When your KPI visualizations first became a dashboard, they were well-thought out measures--gauges--from which you could derive actionable business intelligence. The layout was attractive and easy to understand. You knew what each of the gauges was telling you and how to use the information. Over time, however, the gauges began to produce questionable data and became more difficult to figure out. Most of the gauges still produced accurate, valuable information but a few had become tarnished.
Many decisions were weighed with the information on this dashboard so there was an element of risk in continuing to use the tarnished KPIs.
The most obvious fix would be to scrap the dashboard and build a new one. In some cases, that might be the best answer. So, when do you need to redo your dashboard and when do you need a new one?
KPI Gauge Flash Rust
As there are varying levels of flash rust, so are there varying categories of KPI gauges in need of attention. Here, we will equate them to the three flash rust levels and how each might be addressed. For purposes of this post, flash rust is defined as occurring within minutes or, at most, hours. Flash rust is usually more or less uniform over large areas. The parallel to our gauges is the suddeness with which the rust appears (creating an outdated and/or useless KPI) and the potential for that rusty KPI to affect more than what is shown on the dashboard.
In other words, you may not see this coming before its effects are widespread.
So, the best course of action is obviously to try to treat your KPIs with a rust inhibitor at the outset. This is not always easy but is well worth the effort. Using best-practices principles of KPI development and management are the best protection. The ones suggested by KPI.org are a good place to start.
- Make strategy measurable and easier to communicate and cascade
- Select and design performance measures that are far more meaningful than brainstorming or benchmarking can produce
- Get buy-in from staff and stakeholders to enthusiastically own performance measurement and improvement
- Bring their measures to life in a consistent way, using the right data and with the right ownership
- Design insightful and actionable reports and dashboards that focus discussion on improvement
- Clearly see the real signals from their measures about whether performance is improving or not
- Convincingly hit performance targets, and make measurement about transformation
KPI Success Predictor: Whether you follow all of the best practices KPI development and managment advice you can find, there still remains one critical element that governs the value of the KPI:
If you don't ask the right question, you won't get the right answer
Business analytics expert Jay Liebowitz says that an effective KPI is one that prompts decisions, not additional questions.
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We are Tableau specialists but we also create many dashboards in software such as Power BI or Zoho or Salesforce Einstein or SAP Crystal Reports or ClicData or QlikSense or Klipfolio or Sisense or Domo--or whatever your software of choice. Get in touch and find out more about our $35/hour services with flat-fee quotes! The roadmap and KPIs are free!
KPI with Light Flash Rust
Sometimes, even the most well-conceived KPIs can become problematic. With light flash rust on your KPI, you can still derive information from it but it is evident that its usefulness may have been compromised. At this point, while not an embedded problem that compromises the overall model of your dashboard, it still must be addressed. A KPI at its most effective produces actionable business intelligence that can be the basis for sound decision-making. To protect the integrity of the KPI and the dashboard, the life cycle of the KPI--from definition to implementation--should be reevaluated.
What does this mean for your KPI?
Likely, the best thing you can do at this point, is to evaluate your KPI in isolation. This enables you to ensure that this KPI is in fact the only problem area and that your entire dashboard model is not compromised. Assessing it against the standards for an effective KPI should tell you whether and where you have a problem. Because not all metrics are KPIs, it’s important to think clearly about what metrics really drive your business.
Simple: Is the KPI simple, straightforward and easy to measure?
Relevant: Is the KPI relevant to those who are going to interact with it?
Aligned: Is the KPI aligned with both the goals of your organization and those of the dashboard of which it is a part?
Actionable: Can the KPI provide the information you want it to provide or is it just window dressing?Measurable: Is there a way to measure it so that it is meaningful and can that be done easily?
Medium Flash Rust
As the flash rust becomes more tenacious, its impact becomes more visible across your dashboard landscape. It may obscure the original intent of the dashboard and even subvert its effectiveness. The first litmus test is to ensure that, if it has failed, it has done so in isolation. Assuming that is the case, the KPI will likely have to be removed and a new defined and developed.
What does this mean for your KPI?
KPIs fail--sometimes suddenly--when they do not meet the tests of time. While there are many causes of failed KPIs, these are some common indicators and one or more may be the cause of the failed KPI.
- Ill-defined. The KPI is ill-defined without adequate consideration for what it is supposed to achieve.
- Accountability. No one claims responsibility either for the way it was defined and how it operates; and, there is no responsibility assigned to the people maintaining and using it.
- Lack of specificity.
- Too hard to measure.
- Actionable. Most importantly, even though it looks pretty, what is its useful purpose?
Heavy Flash Rust
At this point, it can be reasonably assumed that the flash rust on one KPI has prompted its failure, undermining the other KPIs and the integrity of the dashboard itself. Whether or not the KPIs in this model continue to deliver intelligence, it can no longer be assumed that the information is valid or actionable. Cutting out the failed KPI, however, may render the entire dashboard ineffective. The question of implication has now changed.
What does this mean for the dashboard?
You now need a new set of KPIs and a new dashboard. Now might be the time to contact us.