Dashboards first entered widespread use in the 1990s, and can be categorized as strategic, analytical, operational, and informational. Not to be confused with scorecards, or big data analytics, a single dashboard can contain data that facilitates effective decision making for all four categories. Whatever the focus of the dashboard, the concept has become an indispensible tool for managers and leaders to actively manage their business processes. When coupled with the new database software programs, an organizations capability to analyze and display useful information provides it with a plethora of useful options.
Traditionally, Business Process Outsourcing customers have received reports regarding their service provider’s performance in executing transactions, and of course the status of the process itself. These basic requirements have not changed; they are in fact, expanding…seemingly at an exponential rate. BPO customers are requiring augmented dashboards that provide both the standard information and advanced analytical insight in both outsourced and non outsourced business operations. While related to “big Data,” this is not big data analytics…dashboard management facilitates process or value stream management at the strategic, analytical, operational and informational level.
These new dashboards can vary greatly in levels of complexity and sophistication. They can range from totally automated systems with automated data collection and real time data reporting, to manual dashboards that require extensive human intervention, and manual data collection with pre-determined periodic reporting. Depending on the business reporting requirements, dashboard data content is a critical factor in determining what is reported. Some important considerations are:
- A processes cycle time; the faster the process cycle time the more frequent the reporting should be.
- The more variation in the processes, the tighter the controls that are needed to manage the process, and the more frequent the reporting needs to be.
- Manual data collection exponentially impacts the labor required to produce a dashboard, and of course the practicality of reporting frequency….electronic data is generally easier to manage and analyze.
- Automated data collection, coupled with modern software and algorithms, can and do allow more frequent reporting, and many cases, real time reporting of useful information.
- Most importantly, the information that is collected must be calibrated to the needs of managers and leaders who are responsible for the performance of the operation. We build dashboards based on the information the end user needs to manage the business.
In addition to both manual and automated data collection considerations, the design of standard data displays requires:
- Extensive process knowledge.
- Practical data stratifications.
- A solid mathematical understanding of the relationships of the various variables.
- And, a robust design that focuses on key performance indicators that drive strategic, operational as well as detection, prevention, and correction decisions.
At Capgemini, dashboard design is a team effort that combines the subject matter expertise of Operations, continuous improvement expertise of the Delivery Excellence team, and the technical and data management expertise of our Global Command Center teams. The results of this team effort are dashboards that are designed to deliver what both BPO operations and client operations need to manage and improve “the business.”
The following examples are typical dashboards that have been deployed for two Capgemini customers in the manufacturing and consumer products sectors.
Example 1: New Sales Order Quality Dashboard (Manufacturing)
The first phase of this dashboard provides weekly information regarding the quality of new sales orders that are received from the client to the client. By providing error types at the Regional, Customer, and individual Sales Team levels, interventions can be planned and executed to reduce, and eventually eliminate the errors. All data for the dashboard is collected manually through an evaluation of each and every order by a logistics coordinator (LC). The LCs then input the information into a database that generates the dashboard automatically. This “quality” dashboard has had a positive impact on lead times for our customer, and overall quality of the inputs to sales order processes managed by Capgemini. Initially begun with a manual data collection plan involving 100 plus people in 8 regions, and 5 Service Centers, the manual New Sales Order dashboard is a difficult and time consuming process to deploy and manage. In this example, the Sales Order Quality Dashboard was designed and deployed in just 40 days, and has resulted in a minimum of 20 percent error reduction in every client region. The manual version of the dashboard is the first phase of a multi generational design and implementation program. Phases two and three will see the automation of data collection and reporting processes, with the complete integration of the metrics into the clients Sales Team KPIs.
Example 2: Global Sales dashboard (Consumer Goods)
A second example involved the integration of 39 instances of SAP into a global dashboard for tracking and reporting on sales activity–real time–for over a hundred different countries. The complexity of the design process was enormous; it required the integration of 39 SAP instances through dashboard software. This effort took a year to fully design and completely implement in all geographies. The results have been spectacular; the client receives real time data on sales activity for all Regions, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Both dashboards, whether manual or automated, provide Capgemini clients with information that is relevant to their operations, and it prompts them to take action. In both situations, the dashboards have provided the leadership teams with insight and transparency into their operations…for the very first time.
The next step in BPO outsourcing is here; a properly designed and deployed dashboard should drive better decisions, continuous improvement, lower costs, shorter lead times and higher customer satisfaction. The right dashboard builds these capabilities into the customer’s operations…the bar for outsourcing, has been raised again…
Your thoughts and comments are welcome…