What does automation mean when considering using dashboard? Of course, it means fast, useful, and reliable however it can also mean high-cost, inflexible and counter performing. By intending to automate everything, you tend to immediately measure too much too soon and focus on information that is not truly relevant to your business. So many companies have spent years and incredible amounts of money trying to automate everything just to realize the output was not aligned to their true business needs. 

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Building a dashboard or a scorecard is not an easy task and often a long initiative. Having its dashboard specifically adapted to your organization’s requirements is not a short process and can’t be accurate in one week. It should be handled with caution, following an iterative and pragmatic process. Also, there is no definite structure as it should evolve and follow the trends of your business objectives.

Therefore, trying to automate your data feed into your dashboard upfront during the prototyping phase presents quite a few drawbacks. First of all, it is time consuming and represents a high investment in order to implement automation for all the data you want to track. It is then essential to be certain about the data you need to follow, which is not an evidence when you start building your dashboard. How many indicators do you really follow and need? This question cannot be answered right away. You will probably have to try and adjust indicators according to your needs. It is only after a few trials that you will be in a position to understand those who are truly needed to manage your business.

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The advice I’d like to give in this article is to start by focusing on a limited number of indicators; those that are truly indispensable to drive your business objectives. Then, potentially add indicators and see if the value of following them is greater than the time and money spent automating the data feed. If not, then consider feeding the data manually or – if the information the indicator provides is not valuable enough – simply remove the indicator from your dashboard.

Therefore, when defining which indicators to follow, it is way more efficient to reflect on the five key questions you ask yourself every morning. It is a hard endeavor to ask yourself which indicators you want to follow it is however simpler to define the list indicators that will provide you with an answer to a specific question. Starting by five questions you must answer everyday enables you to filter the information you need and help you defining which indicators to track.

Then, you can adjust your questions, add more questions, answer those questions with different indicators, etc. Your business and the environment you are in are constantly evolving and you need to be in a position to revise your scorecard strategy regularly.

Finally, when you think one of the questions is there to stay, then think about automating the data load. Still, bear in mind the business case of doing so. In the end, entering 10 figures every month or importing data lists into your dashboard might well be the best solution…