Dashing About

December 16th, 2009 by Rob Hale Leave a reply »

It has been a bit crazy for the last 3 weeks which goes a long way to explaining how little posting I’ve been doing of late.  All for good reasons however.  We now have a real executive dashboard (at least in DEV for now) based on warehouse data and populated entirely through automated ETL processes each night.


We’ve still got a little bit of warehouse work to do before it makes it into production but the development is done and first impressions seem very favourable.  The idea of a single dashboard representing everything people want to see in a university proved to be somewhat difficult so we ended up with 7 (yes seven) integrated dashboards – an overview and then 6 which expanded on each of our major business processes in the institutional value chain (from Demand through to Income).  The one you can see above tackles management of the Offer business processes.

The project was run as a fairly intensive joint effort between ourselves and an external consultancy.  Our role was to provide the data and the consulting group provided project management, requirements gathering and the layout and presentation of the data.  In the end we worked so well together that the edges blurred and it became a collaborative effort over the course of 4 weeks.  It was extremely motivating and rewarding to work with a group of people who were up for the challenge in what were reasonably aggressive timescales – something that I do miss from my days in the commercial world.

The dashboard design employs many of Stephen Few’s data visualisation principles although I’m sure Stephen will have some comments to make and hopefully some insights and suggestions for a future iteration when he comes over here early next year to deliver his much awaited workshops.

Although we incorporated 2 scope-adjusting demonstrations into the iterative development timeline, we have already had a huge number of additional enhancement suggestions and requests for future dashboard outputs including a much more detailed School-specific operational dashboard.  Part of me is hesitant about delivering more and more dashboards but another part of me thinks it is fantastic that there is interest and demand for the rich information stored in the warehouse.  Time will tell…


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