Getting a dashboard with up-to-date snapshots of crucial metrics, with "drill down" features for more comprehensive views of underlying data was considered a sign of executive prowess, reserved for senior executives like CFOs who were privy to such real-time, not-yet-public results of a company. But at $4.4 billion specialty chemicals maker Dow Corning Corp. in Midland, Mich., dashboards were rolled out a year ago to dozens of dispute coordinators and managers in sales, customer service, and credit and collections in the U.S. and Canada as part of a companywide dispute management system. The new solution replaced a spreadsheet-based process that, among other things, took four hours to produce weekly updates, and was seen as lacking record control features. Now, when a dispute is created in which a payment doesn't match the invoice, an email is automatically sent to the relevant coordinator with a hyperlink to review the situation. "The dashboard allows for easy visibility by all management, so they can understand what the impact is to their business," says Ritch Cushway, global customer financial services manager at Dow Corning. "The dashboard really facilitates very quick answers, with high-level drop down menus to allow views by geographic region, customer industry and by individual."
Call it the democratization of the dashboard, but the movement of dashboards deeper into an organization to a wider number of users is bringing surprising new efficiencies. At Dow Corning, the amount of working capital tied up in payment disputes has been cut by 50% in the year since the new system was put in place, and the new system is being introduced into the company's European and other overseas operations this year.