Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reflections on Eckerson's Book "Performance Dashboards"

Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your BusinessThe second edition of Wayne Eckerson's Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business" is a practical, substantial yet accessible guide to a topic that has continued to gain importance since the release of the book's popular first edition. Measurement-based-management has become an essential part of the Information Landscape™, and yet it's not easy to do well.

I recommend the book to teammates, clients, and fellow practitioners. I particularly appreciate Eckerson's straight-forward writing about the human dynamics within an organization that can negatively impact the design and implementation of effective dashboards -- an important and often overlooked topic. The book has become standard reading in my firm.

One such human dynamic that resonates with us at FA is the well-known "distrust," as Eckerson describes it, that exists at many organizations between technologists and business people. We have seen this disconnect time and again in a variety of industries.

Eckerson offers a number of tips for overcoming this difficulty, including integrated departments in which technologists aren't physically - and socially - separated from their business counter-parts, and instead these integrated teams share supervisors, regular meetings, and incentives.  This is a great idea from our point of view.  In fact, doing this will likely replicate some of the value my team brings to our clients:  clients often hires us because we "speak the language" of both technologists and business people, and have often served as a trusted translator between the two functions when integration between departments is not possible.