executiveExecutive information systems need to empower executives and senior managers to make better, more informed decisions. Inaccurate or outdated data in executives’ hands can have dire consequences for companies trying to shift their resources to their most strategically valuable projects. This fact alone makes your choice of what kind of system to use to provide data to executives one of the most important you can make.

While most executive information systems stand alone, it’s becoming clear that systems that tie in can be best and most reliable at providing the kind of data executives need most. If you’re looking for a powerful way to provide work management data to your executives, look for these five requirements:

1. Visibility into Accurate Real-time Data

Stale data is bad data. In today’s fast-paced business environment, executives can’t afford to make decisions on day-old, week-old data, or even worse, month-old data. Executive information systems with significant reporting lag times cripple a business’ ability to take advantage of dynamic market conditions, respond in a timely manner to critical issues, or make time-sensitive course corrections. The business landscape changes too rapidly to rely on out-dated information. Decision makers need an executive information system that provides visibility into actionable information that is accurate and current.

An executive information system that delivers real-time visibility into work management activities lets managers see how effectively resources are being utilized across the organization. They can see how many people are working on each individual project, what each team member is working on, where bottlenecks might be occurring, and if work priorities need to be adjusted. Real-time visibility enables executives to make decisions informed by fresh, accurate information and gives them the agility to make course corrections in a timely manner.

2. Consistent Performance Indicators

Even though different groups within an organization might provide different services or produce different types of deliverables, all performance or work status indicators need to be presented in the executive information system in a consistent manner. Lack of consistency in metric and status reporting prevents decision makers from getting a true view of business performance. To achieve the required level of consistency, metrics and performance indicators need to be formalized and defined within the executive information system and then consistently used by all the different groups.

The standardization of metrics and performance indicators can best be achieved if the organization first defines standard workflows and processes within each of its different departments and teams. To facilitate this effort, the executive information system should provide the ability to create and customize automated workflows that not only guarantee consistent reporting of work performance, but that also simplify the entire work lifecycle including planning, coordination, execution and management.

3. Unified and Automated Work Management and Reporting Efforts

Too often organizations rely on a combination of spreadsheets, project management utilities, PowerPoint presentations, report builders and a variety of other tools for work management and reporting. This often leads to significant manual entry, collecting, sorting, and copying of information among these different tools. Not only do these become labor intensive activities, but they can result in reporting errors and delays. An executive information system should be able to unify and automate all of these work management efforts by providing organizations a single place for tracking, managing and reporting on work.

4. User-friendly Executive Views

An executive information system that is difficult to use is an executive information system that will get little use. Decision makers want and need an executive information system that is intuitive and makes it easy for them to get the information they need quickly. This means user-friendly layouts and fully customizable dashboards. They need the ability to quickly switch between different views that only present information relevant to their role, but also let them quickly drill down into more detailed information.

5. Cloud-Driven Accessibility

To meet the needs of highly mobile executives and geographically disbursed organizations, an executive information system must be cloud-driven. A cloud-driven executive information system breaks down geographic barriers, giving decision makers instant visibility into the information they need no matter where in the world they work. The cloud can provide that same instant visibility while they’re on the move, serving up on their smartphones and tablets the dashboards and work management views they need when they need them.

These requirements combined in one executive information system provide obvious benefits to executives. With data gathered and aggregated consistently and promptly, executives can make key decisions with all the pertinent data on hand. Companies can trust that decisions made are data-driven, instead of being fueled by the politics of fear-mongering that too often rules in the board room.