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A Customer’s View on How Data Dashboards Enhance Decision-Making

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Data visualization software can help data analysts more efficiently distill and communicate pertinent information to their customers. Likewise, the customization available in many data visualization packages enables consumers of data to more easily obtain and sort through the information they need.

In a previous blog post, I explored how the U.S. General Services Administration is using data visualization technology to effectively present information about its workforce to internal customers. GSA’s data dashboard, called the Business Partner Report (BPR), is also helping the agency move towards a self-service focused analytic approach, with agency leaders now able to more easily obtain pertinent data about portions of the GSA workforce they are charged with leading. The dashboard is published monthly and presents key HR metrics in a series of customizable and color-coded graphs and charts.

According to GSA’s internal customers of the workforce dashboard, some of the most important features include the dashboard’s customizable filters and the integration of various datasets into unified graphical views. Presenting more up-to-date workforce data can enhance the government’s ability to more efficiently use its human resources and better serve customers.

Catherine Maloney, GSA’s HR Account Manager for the Federal Acquisition Service (“FAS”—the organization within GSA that helps procure goods and services for the federal government), says the BPR has provided FAS with tools to more efficiently isolate the data needed to manage its workforce.

“To have consistent and easy access to workforce data is a new development for our customers,” said Maloney, “It allows HR to visually lay out the facts based on data for better communication, and enables management to make decisions about the workforce in a much timelier manner.”

The customizable nature of the data dashboard has also helped free up resources. “The change from what we had to do by running manual reports has been huge, let alone the length of time for an annual report. We’ve gone from an environment of a once-a-year report to senior leadership to a monthly update to key managers on the ground and HR touch points. It removed much of the grunt work to present a lot of workforce information to many more people,” said Maloney.

According to one Forbes article, dashboards can prove essential in measuring how an organization is meeting its goals, with up-to-date metrics comparing real-time performance to established benchmarks. Maloney and her staff work with FAS managers in the field and finance executives to provide data that may identify opportunities to more effectively manage human capital resources.

“FAS and finance are looking at how to maximize the utilization of FTEs [full-time equivalents]. The data in the reports is important, especially attrition data over time, as well as the retirement eligibility. Having the number onboard, hired and separated in a few organized charts does help managers plan and meet goals. I think this will help FAS determine our staffing needs going forward,” said Maloney.

As the agency that seeks to provide the best value in real estate, acquisition and technology services to the rest of the federal government, GSA’s use of data visualization can help the government overall become more efficient and effective, says Maloney. “Presenting workforce data in a timely dependable manner is great for our customers because it enables data-driven decision making and enables GSA leadership to demonstrate best practices and approaches to using data.”

The data presented in a data dashboard can also serve as a platform to build out predictive workforce models to forecast future human capital trends. Analysts  can use data dashboards not only to present the workforce as it is today, but project staffing trends in the future.

Matthew Albucher is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Profile Photo Christine Burke

There are a lot of salient points here with the importance of dashboards and their customizability – not just for internal stakeholders but also external partners. It’s really great to hear about GSA’s work here!

Profile Photo Alexa McKenna

Seems data dashboards could be a huge benefit to government organizations in the future. I recently read another post on GovLoop about ten dashboards that serve a similar function as GSA’s. With that said, I predict we will see a lot more agencies embracing the dashboard soon.