The dashboard

The concept of a dashboard is to provide a brief and to the point overview of key parameters to support decision making (Epstein and Manzoni, 1998). The concept seems to have originated as a performance measurement concept in France in the 1930s as the Tableau du Board, literally meaning dashboard. The more widely known explanation is to use the analogy of an aircraft cockpit. Here there are many hundreds of instruments and indicators providing measures and information. All are necessary at some point and for certain situations, however (and assuming the plane is being flown manually rather than under computer control), under normal flying conditions only a handful are actually used to fly the plane.

The dashboard is less of a framework for what or how to measure things but rather a concept around the selection and presentation of measures and information. Its early use was by process engineers seeking ways to improve production processes and so the means to monitor cause and effect in real time or near real time was devised.

Dashboards are commonplace in organizations and with the right dashboard design, provide an essential management tool to 'keep the firm flying just right and on the correct heading'. The dashboard concept supports other performance measurement systems. As in the balanced score card, measures must be more than just financial but balanced, and as for top down measurement, different 'nested' dashboards become appropriate at each level or within each function.

The Performance Prism

The Performance Prism is a concept developed by Neely and Adams (2000) and is a performance measurement system organized around and based upon combining five perspectives of performance (as if the faces of a prism). These are:

• Stakeholder satisfaction - the needs and wants of stakeholders and customers; who they are and what they want.

• Strategies - the strategies required to satisfy these.

• Processes - the processes needed to execute these strategies.

• Capabilities - the capabilities to operate and enhance these processes.

• Stakeholder contribution - the contributions required from stakeholders in order to maintain and develop capabilities.

The Performance Prism recognizes that a performance measurement system needs to consider wider stakeholders, beyond customers and employees, and this includes suppliers (Figure 5.8). Successful deployment seems to centre around establishing a good degree of interrelationship between the five perspectives.

Measuring service organizations

The Results and Determinants Framework (Figure 5.9) was developed through a Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) funded research project examining service-based businesses in the UK (Fitzgerald et al, 1991). The model proposes six dimensions to performance; results given by competitiveness and financial performance enabled by the determinants of quality, flexibility, resource utilization and innovation. The model is particularly suited to service-based industries where success is often intangible but rather a perceived benefit of level of customer satisfaction.

FIGURE 5.8 The Performance Prism, adapted from Neely and Adams (2002)

The Performance Prism, adapted from Neely and Adams (2002)

FIGURE 5.9 The Results and Determinants Framework

The Results and Determinants Framework

Again suppliers are not called out in this model, but where a service business is utilizing suppliers, especially service-based suppliers then all of the determinants apply to the way suppliers are engaged, managed, measured and contribute to the overall quality and performance of the service.

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