Interactive Dashboards: US.Gov Aces, Wimbledon Double Faults - InformationWeek

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7/2/2009
09:16 AM
Rajan Chandras
Rajan Chandras
Commentary
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Interactive Dashboards: US.Gov Aces, Wimbledon Double Faults

The US government has unveiled a dashboard to track IT spending. Apparently put together in a remarkably short six weeks, it looks at first sight a shining example of the power and value of business intelligence. Features of the IT spending dashboard include...

The US government has unveiled a dashboard to track IT spending, which looks at first sight a shining example of the power and value of business intelligence. The Wimbledon tennis dashboard, on the other hand, appears less than impressive…

As reported in The New York Times, the so-called IT Dashboard was put together by the US government in a remarkably short six weeks, and will "track and analyze the more than $70 billion a year that the federal government spends on information technology."Some features of the IT spending dashboard include:

  • Dozens of major government agencies are covered (and intended for coverage), such as Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Veterans Affairs, National Science Foundation, etc.
  • A bubble chart (or bar chart -- take your pick) shows a birds-eye view of the investment by department, and you can "play" the spending as it evolves over the years.
  • Investment status is color coded: Green = "Normal," Red = "Significant Concerns"
  • Beyond project status, project details are available to an enviable extent; including amount spent, cost and schedule variance, responsible department head and department CIO and last but not the least, the prime contractor awarded the project.

Credit for this initiative apparent goes to Vivek Kundra, the newly appointed CIO for the administration. As an IT (and data management) professional, I'm very impressed with the scope, elegance and speed-to-market of the IT dashboard, and as a taxpayer, I'm happy that I get some insight into how my tax dollars are being spent. I fully expect the dashboard to suffer from data quality and completeness issues for some time to come, but that does not deprive it of any value or verve. Check out the dashboard for yourself at http://it.usaspending.gov/ and let me know what you think.

Now, take a step back and consider building a similar dashboard for your company's portfolio of projects -- including the current project status, amount spent, cost & schedule variance, name of the project manager and name of the consulting firm (if any). It's a daunting task for many good reasons -- data availability/quality and internal political considerations ranking topmost! Yet, the value in a project portfolio dashboard is intrinsic and undeniable. The question is: how many companies have this level of (internal) openness in project portfolio management?

While on dashboards, also check out the Wimbeldon tennis dashboards pictured below and linked here. Put together by IBM, the dashboards look to be a mixed bag. Some displays (e.g. the Scoreboard) are well put together (although for the Scoreboard, it is not much more than a representation of the well-known actual tennis dashboard), while others (e.g. the Interactive Draw) seem to lay more emphasis on color schemes than usability.

Wimbeldon Tennis DashboardThe US government has unveiled a dashboard to track IT spending. Apparently put together in a remarkably short six weeks, it looks at first sight a shining example of the power and value of business intelligence. Features of the IT spending dashboard include...

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