Thursday, February 26, 2009

Program Metrics Dashboard design guidelines: 10 useful guidelines from experience

I have been experimenting with some metrics design dashboards for pipeline tracking of programs. I have used these guidelines and tricks

1. Keep it simple - the chances of making a super heavy dashboard is high - stick to fixed number of metrics (You want to add something, You have to delete something! - crude but effectie rule)
2. Let users use an excel sheet or a web page - dont make them use a complex database
3. Make users fill directly into a dashboard like page - that way they know how it will look rather than them filling a form and you creating a dashboard. This also provides them instant feedback on performance
4. On most companies, poorly performing programs report far fewer metrics than better ones. [A symptom of what you dont measure you dont manage (I dont beleive that you manage by just measuring though)]. More in the "red" zone is a better sign than No metrics. REPORT % of metrics filled in your dashboard
5. Achieve balance - report on cost, quality, purchasing, sourcing, delivery , issues et al. Failing to achieve balance will scuttle all-round execution and delay programs.
6. Follow  some simple xls rules: Validate everything using Data Validation rules, Use input messages that are descriptive, use comments in xls, format each cell based on the input format you need, unlock entry cells and protect worksheets,Test with sample data before distributing! - It is much better to do all this before you get it to the programs than to send out a poorly validated set of measures dashboard
7. Use charts were possible to break monotony
8. Keep improving and standardizing - it is important to let users know where to look for what information.
9. Create a mapping file for creating a summary from all project xls files and load into access or any enterprise database that you have. It is improtant to archive both plans and actuals on the monthly or quarterly rates at which PMO collects information.
10. Create also a reverse mapped dashboard to generate any of the metrics dasboard reports from the database.

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