A dashboard is a performance management tool that allows managers to track and assess the performance of an organisation or programme against a variety of metrics.
The ‘dashboard’ metaphor suggests the two features that make this tool different from other performance management tools. The first is that key information is brought together into one place and is presented in a visually compelling way. This can be through dials, graphs, traffic lights or ‘RAG’ (red, amber green) ratings and other means that allow a situation to be assessed at a glance. Secondly, data is updated regularly or automatically, allowing ‘real time’ information to be used to impact tactical decision-making my managers. Much as a driver would use speed dials, petrol gauges and a sat-nav to improve his driving, an organisational dashboard allows managers and leaders to regularly adjust inputs and make tactical and informed operational decisions.
Despite similarities, dashboards differ from ‘performance scorecards’ because scorecards provide periodic snapshots of performance associated with an organisation’s strategic objectives (or Key Performance Indicators/KPIs), including measures of outputs and outcomes. In contrast, dashboards allow a higher frequency of reporting and tend to focus on operational or functional information.
The Atlanta City Dashboard is a performance management tool that the City of Atlanta uses to track the effectiveness of City services and to hold its managers to account for service delivery. It is organised around the four major strategic goals of the Mayor: A Safe City; a Strong Infrastructure; an Efficient and Effective Government; and a Financially Stable Government. Within each of the four major strategic goals there are supporting strategies that help to achieve those goals. The dashboard "cascades" downward through the supporting strategies to the performance measures.Source: Mackie, B. (2008) "Organisational Performance Management in a Government Context: A Literature Review". Social Research, Scottish Government. Online.
Advice for CHOOSING this option (tips and traps)
- Does the organisation or programme you are evaluating already use a dashboard?
- If no dashboard exists, creating a dashboard is most beneficial at the beginning of a project and the metrics displayed should reflect performance indicators as set out in the project logframe, as well as other key operational information including context indicators and input data (i.e. the amount spent so far, the number of field workers on the ground etc).
Advice for USING this option (tips and traps)
- If a dashboard already exists and is being used make sure it tracks the right information (will it enable real time decision making by managers?) and that data is displayed in the most useful way.
- At the data collection and evaluation stage, try to obtain copies of the dashboard from regular intervals over the whole period being assessed to build a dynamic sense of how the project has progressed over time. You can use this data alongside performance scorecards to assess how operational decisions and dosage affect performance against strategic objectives.
Cokings, G. (2008) "How are Balanced Scorecards and Dashboards Different?", Information Management Online. Online.
Mackie, B. (2008) "Organisational Performance Management in a Government Context: A Literature Review", Scottish Government. Online.
Wayne, W. (2006) Performance Dashboards. (NJ: John Wiley & Son).
Sources'Integrating Performance' Website. Online.