”Dashboards” as a concept recently became popular in the last 7 years. These dashboards are computer-based visual indications of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of metrics within an organization and are now used by Executives, Managers and Staff to track everyday activities to make better decisions. For example, a Manufacturing Operations dashboard would show such KPIs as Yield, Failure Paretos, Equipment utilization etc.

The evolution of dashboards is an interesting one and can be traced back as far the first century AD. For an interesting read on “data visualization” I would recommend Stephen Few’s book “Now You See It”. Historically Data Visualization has followed an interesting path:
-2nd century: first use of tables to organize numbers
-18th century: first graphs and charts were “invented” on paper
-1980s: first widespread use of visualizing data through Bar charts, line graphs, pie charts etc

The 1980s saw Data Visualization come into its own primarily because of high speed computers and rich graphics interfaces. What is happening now in the first part of the 21rst century is the ability to store massive amounts of data in a cheap fashion and being able to access that data conveniently through the internet. This has directly given rise to the use of Dashboards which can quickly aggregate and provide Users directly relevant KPIs out of these massive amounts of data.

The question for most users is: What are relevant KPIs that I need track? A good rule of thumb to understand your KPIs is to understand how your or your group’s performance is measured by the organization…if there is some raw data that supports that performance then a dashboard could be useful. IntraStage has developed multiple dashboard views for Test, Manufacturing, Quality and R&D environments. If you would like to contribute your views on what KPIs are relevant to your job, we would love to hear them…please comment on our LinkedIn Discussion post.

Happy dashboarding!