Hunting The Elusive CIO Dashboard

There's not yet a foolproof method for correlating disparate IT data into useful information. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't prepare.

Michael Biddick, CEO, Fusion PPT

February 28, 2008

3 Min Read

Without a CIO dashboard, organizations looking to ensure that IT service requirements are met must rely on manual extrapolation of multiple applications, each containing silos of critical data. At best, this results in hit-or-miss decision making and a certain amount of inertia. At worst, working from flawed assumptions leads to significant costs and delays and wasted resources. A few organizations have retrofitted portal software to pull together siloed data; however, these do little to correlate information into useful guidance. 8 Steps To Prepare For The CIO Dashboard 1. Define the key performance indicators (KPIs) that need to be measured in your dashboard.

2. Map KPIs to specific data requirements. Determine if the data exists in systems or needs to be collected.

3. If data-collection gaps exist, explore improvements to fill holes. Develop a plan and timeline to implement those systems.

4. Investigate business service management, project and portfolio management, and BI tools based on your KPI requirements. Pay attention to how tools integrate with your existing infrastructure.

5. Budget for the initial cost of the CIO dashboard, annual maintenance, and fees to implement the system. Take into account the complexity and cost of changes and updates.

6. Develop an implementation plan that provides dashboard visibility into key systems one at a time.

7. After systems are integrated, focus on correlating data across those systems to provide meaningful visual information and alerting capabilities should a metric violate a threshold.

8. When new components are considered, evaluate how they'll be integrated into the dashboard. A CIO dashboard is only as good as the information it can collect. Two areas where IT must focus are data sources--including BSM, BI, and PPM--and KPIs.

First, define the key performance indicators that drive your IT organization. Instead of trying to grab as much data as possible, focus on the critical aspects of IT and how they impact the business. This approach will make implementing the dashboard more straightforward.

Next, identify the appropriate sources to meet information requirements. The dashboard will need direct access to underlying data, typically requiring an API or integration bus architecture to allow for loose coupling among information silos. Some enterprise management systems, such as ScienceLogic's EM7, connect to an application's database layer and pull a copy of the data to avoid using integration bus technology. These work well as long as you can connect to the external application database; in many cases, you can't.

Because CIOs work with all parts of an organization, their dashboards need to blend collaboration, business requirements analysis, and Web-based technologies such as Adobe's Flex. They have roots in service-oriented architecture concepts and as such are less about technologies, more about processes that allow for a horizontal view across an organization, driven primarily by business requirements, which in turn are typically driven by service requirements to internal and external customers. The flexibility SOA brings is a key advantage, as the information needed by those in various roles can differ greatly. Visualization implementation examples include front ends (or views) for CIOs, of course, but also for customers, service desk operators, process managers, financial managers, and executives.

One challenge in making the CIO dashboard a reality is that software vendors persist in presenting silos of information, requiring lengthy and costly custom portal development efforts.

About the Author(s)

Michael Biddick

CEO, Fusion PPT

As CEO of Fusion PPT, Michael Biddick is responsible for overall quality and innovation. Over the past 15 years, Michael has worked with hundreds of government and international commercial organizations, leveraging his unique blend of deep technology experience coupled with business and information management acumen to help clients reduce costs, increase transparency and speed efficient decision making while maintaining quality. Prior to joining Fusion PPT, Michael spent 10 years with a boutique-consulting firm and Booz Allen Hamilton, developing enterprise management solutions. He previously served on the academic staff of the University of Wisconsin Law School as the Director of Information Technology. Michael earned a Master's of Science from Johns Hopkins University and a dual Bachelor's degree in Political Science and History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Michael is also a contributing editor at InformationWeek Magazine and Network Computing Magazine and has published over 50 recent articles on Cloud Computing, Federal CIO Strategy, PMOs and Application Performance Optimization. He holds multiple vendor technical certifications and is a certified ITIL v3 Expert.

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