Legal departments need accurate, easy to read reports that can be communicated across the organization. I hear it all the time. Recently, Hyperion Research had a good post related to management dashboards. But how do you build a report that’s clearly readable yet also contains all the critical information that should be included?
I completely agree with the advice: make sure you are capturing good data, keep visualizations simple and “easy on the eyes,” and understand that your needs may be somewhat unique. However, the reality is that many legal departments spend a lot of time to produce reams of reports without much valuable knowledge being shared. These reports often include so called “dashboards” – because the buzzword has been around for so long that everyone feels they need to have them. Too often, they don’t communicate useful management information effectively.
Good dashboards easily provide users with a quick, visual understanding of situations that may have many data points or lots of data. They are especially useful for managing and tracking the success of specific departmental initiatives. For example, we know how important it is to support customers in promoting diversity in the legal industry, so CounselLink® enterprise legal management solution will soon have a standard dashboard accessible to all customers that allows them to manage the diversity of their law firm timekeepers.
The dashboard tells a story quickly and visually, supports viewing of the data from different angles (by practice area, type of vendor, etc.), and enables the user to drill into detail such as diversity by title and timekeeper. This will allow customers to measure how well their firms are doing at matching their goals for inclusion and a diverse culture. It even provides information on how many, and which, firms are not supplying the data requested to evaluate their diversity so that meaningful conversations can be had with those firms and the size of the subset of reporters vs. non-reporters can be understood.
Another example of a management dashboard being used for a customer-specific initiative is one for a legal department that recently implemented a preferred provider program and wanted an easy, effective tool to help manage the program and communicate results to the general counsel and department heads. That legal department can now visualize on one screen the amount they are spending across their preferred providers and quickly assess which departments are not complying with program guidelines by continuing to hire non-preferred providers of legal services.
A great management report helps to manage a key initiative and to showcase the results of those initiatives to the rest of the organization. In my experience, every law department has a list of the top five (or more) goals that they are managing this year. Think of the value that could be added to the business if, rather than starting by creating generic management reports, you moved toward creating fantastic visual reports directly tied to each of those top five priorities.
Your dashboards should be customized to your specific initiatives to make them true management tools. If you ready to learn more about producing valuable dashboards, see how CounselLink can help you drive your legal department with customizable dashboards.