The Dashboard Spy

July 26, 2006

Finding the Right KPIs for Enterprise Dashboards – How MIT did it for airline operations control

Filed under: Dashboard Screenshots — dashboardspy @ 11:56 am

How do you pick your KPIs for your enterprise dashboarding projects? If you are like most of us, we interview business users and scribble down their kpis, figure out what datasources to tap into and then code the calculations into our dashboards. Simple, right? But do we ever stop to think about how effective those KPIs are? Well, thanks to a Dashboard Spy who hangs out with some smart people at MIT, we get to see another way of choosing KPIs. Seems pretty good to me – what do you think? Time to start hiring MIT grads for enterprise dashboard projects? If you want to read the MIT paper for yourself, take a look at this pdf titled Airline Operations Feedback Control with KPIs.

First, you start off with a KPI brainstorming session and interviews to produce plenty of KPI candidates:

KPI Process at MIT

Then you rate each potential KPI according to various characteristics. For example, detectability is a key. If changes in KPI value have little impact on the output, it makes a poor KPI:

Detectability makes a good KPI

And you look at how precise a KPI is:

KPI precision is good

Here are some sample KPIs studied by MIT for airline operations:

Airline Operations KPI

Airline Crew KPI

Homework: Need to study up on these types of KPIs for your enterprise dashboard? Start with this list of books on airline operationsIf you are on an enterprise dashboard project, do yourself a favor and take a look at Enterprise Dashboards: Design and Best Practices for IT, the only book on actually implementing enterprise dashboards.

So what or who is The Dashboard Spy? As his about page states, The Dashboard Spy is just a guy interested in the design of enterprise dashboards. He could not find any executive dashboard design source books (or even screenshots of real business dashboards) and so set about creating his own. Finally convinced to post his extensive collection of dashboard screenshots online, he was amazed to find how popular it has become. If you have a nice screenshot of a digital dashboard, balanced scorecard, or any business intelligence graphic to share, please send an email to info _at_ Also check out The Dashboard Spy’s favorite books on business dashboards.

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