by Cristian Landivar , JDi Data Software Engineer
Operational awareness and the ability to quickly access work-flows and records are two imperatives in the insurance claims management process. Claims professionals and insurance adjusters need claim data on the fly to make decisions as situations develop. The answer to the problem is as easy as implementing a dashboard function into their claims management software. Now a days several enterprise software solutions seem to have some sort of a dashboard implementation. But, what is a dashboard? If you ask around for the definition of a dashboard, you will probably get as many answers as people you ask. Some will compare it to the gauge panel on a vehicle, others to the control center monitors used by NASA to track space flights, and then everything in between. With so many definitions it’s not surprising that the solutions given by software designers is varied and broad. So to narrow our definition and elicit the essence of a dashboard let’s start with one question: What are the essentials of a dashboard? Here is a starter list of the of what are the most important features:
Eye Candy: First the most obvious.. a dashboard must have color graphs, charts, or other sorts of visual indicators. Using colors and eye catching graphics is a plus if not a must.
Instant Satisfaction: A dashboard should provide instant understanding of it’s underlying data. A user should be able to understand and use the indicators without having to think too much.
Just-In-Time Data: A dashboard should display fresh information at that instant. In the case of the speedometer in a car. The user wants to know the current speed of the car, not the speed three hours ago or last week. In the case of an enterprise, the users may want to know the status of their work-flow at that instant to make decisions as the situation develops.
Operational Awareness: The above characteristics then bring us to this main and most important function of a dashboard. The dashboard is a depiction of the current and actual situation of the company, operation, or system. Having the above characteristics at their optimal will give the user better operational awareness. If the data is not fresh or the graphics are too complex then this awareness is lost.
Data-Jumping: Last but not least, this is the natural after-the-fact function of a dashboard, specially of an interactive dashboard. After-the-fact because the user has already been updated of the operational situation and now wants to act by jumping to a piece of data or workflow right from the dashboard. Reducing clicks required to find a record reduces time spent searching and increases productivity of the system.
This breakdown makes it a bit more clear of the value it brings to any enterprise. A great improvement from the old traditional reports that were the norm of applications of the past. How did we live without dashboards for so long, you ask? Well it’s been a slow progress from the old reports menu and their long and slow reports. Ten years ago most systems had an extensive report menu with all kinds of options, but only one look: a plane table of row after row of text. These reports were usually the domain of business analysts and not the rank-and-file users. They were usually pulled every quarter or end-of-year. In those days businesses did not have a need to react or know their current situation, they had plenty of time to analyze and consume their historical data. But now, this is not only a nice to have but a real necessity for most operations.
It has been a long road to the dashboard, but now that they are here, one thing is clear, they are here to stay. Leave a comment or start a conversation, I would like to know your definition of a dashboard or your opinion of the role they play in our new breed of cutting edge applications.
Take a look at JDi Data’s OpticLense dashboard function for our Claims Manager product. JDi Data will also be unveiling their OpticLense Dashboard at the 2012 National Workers’ Compensation & Disability Conference & Expo from Nov 7th – Nov9th. Visit JDi Data at booth 560 for a demo!