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From the Editor

Dashboards help you get where you want to go; measure the right things, then visually simplify the complexity your end users must deal with while maintaining the data’s believability.

You can’t correct a problem you don’t know about, and you can’t identify a problem unless you’re properly measuring what matters in your organization. In this issue we focus on a pair of related issues: measurements and dashboards.

In our lead story, Ross Morrissey explores how to create dashboards that effectively display the results of your performance measurements. He cites a study showing that 88 percent of human error in aircraft accidents was due to poor situation awareness, stressing that you can’t change a problem you don’t know about. Morrissey also explores the tricky nature of taking measurements. Using operational data to identify over- or under-performing workers, for example, must be approached with caution lest those being measured try to “game” the system.

It’s this very problem that four professionals tackle in our Experts’ Perspective column. A manufacturing firm needs to develop a business performance management system that identifies problems and motivates business users and employees to meet their objectives—all without circumventing or cheating the measurement process.

Measurements must also be timely, as Cumberland Packing (the folks behind Sweet’N Low) knew when planning an update to its financial systems. TDWI took its own measurements in preparing the latest Best Practices Report, Business Intelligence Solutions for SAP; we discussed the findings with the report’s author, TDWI Research’s Philip Russom.

Measurements are worthless if users don’t trust your data. Senior editor Hugh J. Watson explains why users must have confidence in your dashboard. He discusses the four characteristics that make data believable and how you can improve your data’s trustworthiness.

Also in this issue, Chris Houck discusses process improvement using business process discovery and business activity monitoring (which, as you’d expect, uses a full set of process metrics). How do you act on your measures? James Taylor and Neil Raden delve into enterprise decision management. Mohamed Elbashir and Steve Williams look at how to get the greatest impact from BI and offer six steps for assimilating BI into your core business processes.

Like the sports car’s dials and gauges on our cover, dashboards help you get where you want to go. Make sure you measure the right things, then visually simplify the complexity your end users must deal with while maintaining the data’s believability.

As always, I’m interested in your comments about our publication. Please send me your feedback:

This article originally appeared in the issue of Transforming Data with Intelligence.

About the Author

James E. Powell is the editorial director of the Business Intelligence Journal and BI This Week newsletter. You can contact him here.

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