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How technology can support corporate communications: to meet the challenges of providing timely and accurate data to its clients and franchisees, Houston-based Link Staffing Services has adapted the "digital dashboard.".

What's a Digital Dashboard?

According to Microsoft, a digital dashboard is a customized Microsoft-based solution for workers that consolidate personal, team, corporate, and external information with single-click access to analytical and collaborative tools, it brings an integrated view of a company's knowledge sources to an individual desktop, enabling better decision making by providing immediate access to key business information.

Why a Digital Dashboard?

Until recently, c0any workers had a difficult time getting crucial, up-to-date information about their office, their industries, and even within their teams. Digital dashboards are designed specifically to solve the problem of information overload by pulling together key information sources into a consolidated view. Because a digital dashboard is built with Microsoft-based solution, it also provides the tools to further analyze data. A digital dashboard enables workers to be more productive because it:

* Helps focus on business priorities,

* Extends how work is done today,

* Delivers information, in the office or on the move.

What are the capabilities of the Digital Dashboard?

Creating a digital dashboard provides the following capabilities to help individuals work quickly and more efficiently:

* Access to multiple information sources,

* Centralization of information over disparate systems,

* Integration of information,

* Interactivity with information.

A digital dashboard provides a powerful tool that can be used to view daily activities, collaborate with co workers, and gain insight into the performance of the office. Through information centralization, it saves time by not having to gather the information from many disparate systems. It ensures that users have the information and expertise they need to properly assess and act upon business opportunities.

Dashboard Connectivity Overview

To understanding how Link Staffing's dashboard can bring all the information to local users or remote users from multiple sources, consider the exhibit above. The dashboard displays information that is fully encrypted and secure. The data that is interchanged between the company's remote locations and the Houston Support Center travels via a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN). Remote users can also access the Link dashboard. They do so through data encryption. Depending on the type of remote access, the user may require VPN client software to provide a higher level of security. This is an application that is readily available and secure.

Link's remote locations are in constant communication with the Houston Support Center servers. When data changes are made, replication between the remote location and the Houston Support Center can occur within minutes. The replication process of the company's data is a key factor in communicating real-time business changes that will result in making real-time decisions with the latest information.

The replication process also gives the company a technological advantage by allowing real-time reporting, thus assuring the highest possible quality of service is being delivered to clients.

Clients can also directly benefit from the dashboard by receiving up-to-the-minute information on the services that Link provides to them. The client can view financial account information, request long term and immediate services, generate specialized reports to meet their own requirements, review and approve time tickets and other expenditures.

Dashboard Application Overview

The dashboard application was designed for the management of remote office operations. This includes, but is not limited to, management reports, tools for management and sales operations, e-mail, and the Link intranet.

The dashboard pulls data directly from the user's e-mail, the intranet, and Link's proprietary Occupational Pre-Employment Evaluation (LOPE) Survey, Operational Excellence System (OPES) and financial system, eEnterprise. The user can also access the Help Desk to initiate a support incident and track any outstanding technical issues.

The main screen displays two graphs representing Field Staff Out hours and LOPE Survey statistics. The graph data is constantly updated as things change in remote field locations.

At the bottom of the main screen, there is an automated ticker, from which viewers can determine how many LOPE Surveys were administered for the day and total field staff out for the day. The survey is independently certified by an outside research company. It helps identify an applicant's tendency towards undesirable characteristics such as absenteeism, theft and dishonesty, low productivity, poor attitude, hostility, drug use or violence. In addition, the survey has shown to be a time-saving tool by eliminating the need to manually screen and interview candidates that do not meet the company's hiring criteria.

Each dashboard user has access rights to various reports and tools and security features have been included so that only each office can access only its information. Data can be exported in three formats: Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Adobe Acrobat Reader and can be printed, saved to electronic mediums and e-mailed. This gives clients and users maximum flexibility and allows Link to improve processes such as invoicing via faster data retrieval and presentation.

The dashboard works well, but it is still a work in progress. Many of the ideas have come from our franchisees, clients and employees of the remote locations.

George Gualda is chief information officer for Link Staffing Services Inc. He can be reached at
COPYRIGHT 2004 International Franchise Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Technology; Digital Dashboard
Author:Gualda, George
Publication:Franchising World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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