The Dashboard Spy

November 2, 2006

Business Analysis & Monitoring Dashboards – BAM – Rolling up application KPIs for a system status dashboard

Filed under: Dashboard Screenshots — dashboardspy @ 8:42 am

BAM!! Let’s kick up business dashboards a notch! No, this is not the Emeril show, it’s the Dashbaord Spy on BAM Dashboards. Traditionally, the “A” in BAM stands for “Activity”.  Gartner, who coined the term, says it stands for Business Activity Monitoring. I happen to like that definition best. However, there seem to be other variants out there including what the creator of these dashboards call “Business Analysis & Monitoring”.

Here is an interesting comparison between BI dashboards and BAM dashboards as written by someone on wikipedia:

The term refers to the aggregation, analysis, and presentation of real time information about activities inside organizations and involving customers and partners. Although BAM systems usually use a computer dashboard display to present data, BAM is distinct from the dashboards used by Business Intelligence (BI) in that it has three distinct characteristics not found in BI tools:

  1. BAM systems are driven by business events, fed directly from integration software or from Business Process Management most software applications and do not query databases; some companies, like Syndera can read DB logs directly.
  2. BAM systems are real time where data displayed is not dependent upon a user refreshing a query or a query scheduler;
  3. BAM systems are process oriented.

The goals of Business Activity Monitoring are to provide real time information about the status and results of various operations, processes, and transactions so business decisions can be informed, quickly address problem areas, and re-position organizations to take full advantage of emerging opportunities.

Typically BAM software is capable of, for example, providing real time visibility into how business events such as orders, process queues, network failures, database overloads, etc.) affect the progress of business transactions, permitting real-time business decisions in response to system events – e.g., rescheduling business process instances that have stalled as a result of a credit reporting service slowdown, automate real-time notification of violation or pending violation of business-level policies, and provide statistics on business process performance.

Isn’t that a great piece of writing? Anyway, back to our BAM dashboard example. Below we look at a couple of dashboards from that show the status of the business systems powering various business functions. These screenshots show the challenge of how to roll up the various KPI levels. The first screenshot shows simply the CRM, HelpDesk, ECommerce, Email and Financials applications.

BAM Dashboard Business Function Level

The next BAM dashboard screenshot drills down and reveals the KPIs of the constituent systems that make up the beforementioned applications. The big red/green/yellow indicator lights are kind of cute, but I think overwhelming. Too much real estate taken up for my tastes.

BAM System KPI Dashboard

If you drill down into the applications, you get a display like this one for the HelpDesk application dashboard:

BAM helpdesk

If you continue to drill down and produce a report, it looks like this dashboard screenshot:

BAM graph

There is another option that lets you view status by servers. This consolidated server panel makes much better use of real estate than the big light approach before that I didn’t like.

Consolidated Server KPI dashboard view

Homework: It is difficult to buy books about BAM. The closest way is to do what I did and have Amazon show me Books that contain the phrase Business Activity Monitoring.

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.

PS: If you find yourself part of an enterprise dashboard effort, you must study Enterprise Dashboards: Design and Best Practices for IT, the only book on actually implementing enterprise dashboards.

1 Comment »

  1. Hello Dashboard Spy. I enjoy your blog about business dashboards. It is good to see such information. I have been studying this topic for many months now and am glad to see so many examples. I will visit your site often.

    I was very interested in seeing your post about “KPI Requirements for Dashboard Projects – Using the KPI wheel.Thank you for the information about this dashboard topic. There is a dashboard project at work about this subject.

    The wheel graphic is very nice. I like the colors and the questions are very interesting – What Question? Who’s Asking, Why is it Important, etc. I think it is very good. I also like the layout of the screen. I have a question about the boxes on the right side. Is the user supposed to type the answers to the questions into the boxes?

    Comment by Shylesh — November 21, 2007 @ 11:46 pm

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