Dashboard Overload

Another posting in our ongoing series of salesforce training topics.  Today’s topic – Dashboard Overload.

Hello, my name is the Dashboard Spy and I’m a dashboard-aholic.  Yes, I’ve looked at thousands of dashboards and I think they’re all wonderful.  And, if you’re like most of my readers and involved in the design, implementation or management of business dashboards, I bet you also think that they are the best thing since the pie chart.

BUT, if you are a dashboard USER, there may be times when you think that you’re getting too much of a good thing.  It may be that you are getting overwhelmed by all the enthusiastic dashboarders in your company.

Horrors! I’ve said it. Dashboards are too much of a good thing?   But, Mr. Dashboard Spy, have you lost your mind?

Take a look at the wonderful post titled The Great Dashboard Cleanup Project on the blog Force Monkey by JP Seabury.

salesforce.com dashboard

JP Seabury tells the tale of how he downloaded the Salesforce.com AppExchange Dashboard Pack and created a snowballing dashboard phenomenon at his company.  A good thing, right?  His regret now, however, is that these dashboards have taken over and that there is a misplaced emphasis on the dashboard as a tool rather than the business intelligence they should provide.

Very early in our implementation of Salesforce.com, I wanted to show the power of Dashboards to my users. I downloaded AppExchange Dashboard Pack 1.0. The application is free, and installs all of the many dashboards published by Salesforce Labs. The package had dashboards for every conceivable use: lead flow, marketing campaign metrics, sales forecasting, support KPI, sales / support rep performance tracking, document tab tracking, user adoption, data quality analytics…everything.

I downloaded the app, did a little tweaking (very little), and then published the dashboards to my users. When Summer ’08 Release gave us the ability to email dashboards (as an HTML page) directly to users, I enabled that functionality for a few key managers and user groups, too.

Soon after, I saw copies of dashboards distributed at various meetings and screenshots of dashboard components included in PowerPoint presentations.  Managers and executives looked forward to their daily, weekly and/or monthly Dashboard emails, and talked animatedly about them in the halls or at company meetings.  I felt good.

Yet something was wrong.  I couldn’t quite place my finger on what it was, but the monster was there, elusive. The users asked for more dashboards, more pretty graphs, charts, tables, and I appeased them. Today, we have more than 50 different dashboards and hundreds of reports feeding those dashboards. It’s an absolute glut of information.  And this monster I created now has a name: Data Admiration.

They come to the CRM tool, very excited about the volumes of data and information captured in our Salesforce Dashboards.  They drink deep from the kool-aid. But none of these dashboards seem to drive any real change in the organization. Why not?

Check out his post to read his reflection on why this mass dashboard adoption seemed hollow.

Interestingly, one of his readers provided a comment on the proliferation of dashboards and the required Dashboard Cleanup Project done at his company:

I’m not really in to reports and dashboards, but I’d just like to share some horrifying numbers with you: Before our large cleanup project started 6 months ago we had roughly 6000 reports feeding little over 1000 dashboards, all thrown out in folders without any naming convention of any kind.

Now we’re a bit better off, especially because the folders have been organized by area and we have a central team handling everything that has to do with reports.

1,000 dashboards at his company?  Wow.

Please share any stories regarding dashboards running amok at your company.

PS. The above screenshot shows a sales performance dashboard. For an interesting look at how to deploy sales metric dashboads using the PC Desktop Widget approach, see: Salesforce dashboard

Regards Hubert Lee, The Dashboard Spy