This is the theory behind ‘dashboard’ software, a new web-based management tool that is changing the nature of management from an intuitive art into more of a science.
Net Suite Inc, the company behind the scheme, has created software that presents key information assembled from corporate software programmes in colourful easy-to-read graphics on a PC. Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison, who co-founded Net Suite eight years ago, uses his dashboard to track sales activity each quarter, the ratio of sales divided by customer service requests and the number of hours technicians spend on the phone solving problems.
Ellison is not the only dashboard fan: an estimated 40% of the 2,000 largest companies use the technology, which has become increasingly affordable ($1,000 to $2,000 a year to run per user), over the past five years. Information once buried within a large organisation is now accessible at a glance. This allows managers to take corrective action when sales people falter or quality dips.
Steve Ballmer, chief executive of Microsoft, asks his managers to bring their dashboards to meetings so he can focus on sales and the status of key products under development. Meanwhile, James Campbell, chief of the consumer and industrial division at General Electric, uses his to track the number of orders coming in each day and compares that with targets.
But dashboard critics warn that leaders can miss the bigger picture if they are glued to their computer screen. Plus, they argue the big brother approach stifles performance, creates divisions and leads workers to hoard information. Nevertheless, most management experts believe the rewards are well worth the risks. Why not give it a test drive and find out?
Source: Giving the boss the big picture: a 'dashboard' pulls up everything the CEO needs to run the show
Spencer E Ante
BusinessWeek, February 13 2006
Review by Abi Newman