Dashboards Put Field Supervisors in the Pilot’s Seat

Supervisors can’t be effective without good information on what’s going on in the field. They may work with a number of systems for managing cases, tracking costs, and monitoring quality. Unfortunately, these systems often don’t communicate with each other and don’t include automatic alerts to the supervisor when something goes wrong. Information is stovepiped. Users become distracted in navigating from one system to another. It becomes difficult to maintain focus on a problem. The answer to this conundrum: dashboards.

Westat builds highly efficient, effective field operations dashboards

Dashboards are a tool for displaying critical information at a glance. Westat’s effective field supervisor survey dashboards bring production, quality, and cost data together in ways that allow users to examine tradeoffs, take action, and monitor the results:

  • Provide immediate feedback on operations.
  • Draw in data and present critical data that’s easy to understand.
  • Display alerts and suggestions for follow-up action.
  • Allow the user to drill down within a database to investigate a problem and follow its trail.
  • Eliminate distractions so that the user can identify, analyze, and resolve problems.

“Portlets” for a bird’s-eye view

Westat IT staff developed a “portlet” concept that offers a view into specific sets of records or reports from a database. A dashboard can display any number of portlets, sized and arranged as desired. The default setting for the dashboard is the field supervisor, drawing data from the supervisor’s region. Other settings can be the field director and other senior management staff.

Dashboards can contain any number or variety of portlets, for example:

  • Anomalies—alerts in the upper-left corner, the most prominent position on the screen real estate
  • Production—presents the number of completes, appointments, refusals and other outcomes by sampling location
  • Geospatial—identifies interviewers in neighboring regions who might be able to travel efficiently into areas with staff shortages
  • Quality—uses data from CARI coding that documents the coder’s general rating of interview quality
  • Cost—charts hours per completed interview by interviewer by week and by sampling area against budget
  • MyPeople—displays  photos, location, and other information about the field interviewers; gives a view of all field interviewers in the region working at the moment, what activities they were engaged in, and (if not currently at work) when they last worked

Time savings to field supervisors in reviewing reports: 2 hours per week

Field supervisors are extremely satisfied with the dashboards and portlets that integrate new sources of information. With the most important production, cost, and quality metrics available in one place, supervisors can be much more active managers.

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Dashboards help managers achieve production goals, and their single, visually compelling display helps the manager balance quality with cost and schedule constraints.

- Brad Edwards, Westat Vice President and Deputy Area Director; Director, Field Services

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