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Counterpoint: Reasons to Like PeopleTools-based Dashboards

ZD Net contributor Joe McKendrick wrote a great blog about three reasons to hate BI dashboards.  His opinion is certainly one that I share, and many of the blogs I have written here in the past try to focus on how to avoid these pitfalls.  McKendrick’s post can be found here.

Essentially his three reasons are:

  1. Dashboards haven’t gotten much smarter in the last 20 years.
  2. Dashboards don’t prioritize information.
  3. They don’t help individuals take action on the information they receive.

I can’t say I disagree, but I don’t on a wholesale level. I agree that those are prevalent problems with enterprise BI solutions that are used for every data source.  As many of our readers know, MIPRO is focused on everything PeopleSoft, from the application to the toolset.  Our approach to building dashboards within the PeopleSoft product itself addresses and resolves many of the issues McKendrick raises.

Previous blogs (here, here, here and here) outline the thought process around making these dashboards embedded into the business process, prioritizing information and helping individuals take action.  In these examples, the dashboards are made up of dynamic queries that are refreshed every time the user goes to the home page within PeopleSoft. This will happen many, many times throughout the day, which keeps the data fresh and always prioritized.  The dashboards are designed to prioritize the information such as the top five or top 10 or most urgent items as they relate to what is most important from a business user’s perspective.  All of this is controlled by the query and ordering the data based upon defined critical content.  Each dashboard, with drillable URLs, takes the end user straight to the transaction page which is directly linked to the content within the dashboard.

So not only do we have the ability to drill down into data, but it’s not just more data: it’s the actual source of the business information so action can be immediately taken.  These dashboards can not only be on a homepage dashboard, but they can be embedded anywhere within the PeopleSoft application furthering their value by truly embedding them into the business decision process.

McKendrick is right: many BI dashboards aren’t valuable. But if you understand the business problem that’s trying to be solved — along with per-role requirements so users see what they need — you can build some amazing useful tools that literally change a person’s workflow for the better and help a business unit perform far better than it ever has.

A huge factor in whether or not a BI dashboard is effective lives in the requirements gathering, planning and design stage. If this part isn’t done properly, the end result could be quite a bit less than valuable. Garbage in, garbage out.

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