Usage and functionality of business performance dashboards from a managers' perspective
: a study in the German manufacturing industry

  • Jürgen Issel

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Performance dashboards are Business Intelligence and controlling tools that present their users with condensed, at-a-glance business information and support managerial decision-making. With companies increasingly under pressure because of competitors and the necessity to lower costs, dashboards can play an important role in improving business results.
Additionally, the pool of available data increases exponentially as information technology advances. The increased data volume can no longer be processed by human beings, and automated IT-based solutions such as dashboards will therefore become more important. For this reason, it is necessary to improve dashboard performance, in particular with respect to the support they offer a human user.
Research on performance dashboards as an interface for human users has so far focused on data visualisation and, partly, on the standardisation of presentational tools. The aspect of how the user utilises the information presented in the dashboard, in what usage scenarios PDs are or would be embedded in an organisation, and how knowledge about these factors may be used to improve dashboard development and usage have so far not been researched.
To fill this gap, the thesis investigates the actual reporting practices of companies and the path from reporting to decision-making. To this end, an empirical qualitative interview study was conducted with 16 respondents.
The results show, in contrast to assumptions in the literature, that the users have very different expectations of dashboards. Members of middle and lower management are to a large extent focused on the KPIs that they are responsible for and would welcome dashboard functions that aid them in decision-making and task prioritisation. In contrast, senior managers are less focused on specific KPIs because they tend to view changes in KPIs in a strategic context. The dashboard functions for them rather as a gateway to communicate with managerial staff. As these managers consider themselves in charge of decisions about action, dashboards offering guidance in the decision-making process are viewed as encroaching onto their area of responsibility.
It has also become evident that dashboards will fail to facilitate decision-making processes if they do not go beyond simplifying the visual perception of information and, instead, also support their users‘ reasoning processes. Against this background, it is advisable to increase the focus on deviations between planned and actual values in KPIs and to introduce dynamic KPI selection processes that determine which KPIs to present in a dashboard.
Date of AwardJan 2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAshraf Labib (Supervisor) & Armin Roth (Supervisor)

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