Creating a business dashboard is a great way to give your employees access to important data when they need it.
Having access to important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) helps employees receive timely information that allows them to make the best decisions for the company. Business dashboards are particularly useful for simplifying complicated information and offering that data at a glance.
Dashboards are quickly becoming an indispensable tool for businesses. However, many times business dashboards aren’t as useful as they could be because they suffer from poor implementation. A poorly composed dashboard can be as bad as no dashboard at all. In fact, it can even be worse. Far from helping employees, poor dashboards tend to slow them down and make their work even more difficult.
For this reason, before creating a business dashboard, it is helpful to understand what makes one good. Here are a few ideas to consider as you begin to develop stunning dashboards.
Choose Relevant KPIs
Too much data can be overwhelming. Far too many people believe that the more KPIs they track, the more helpful it will be for their businesses. Unfortunately, this is not true.
When considering which KPIs to track, you should first give more thought to the applicability of each data point. A plethora of useless data points does little more than clog the screen and slow down the user. Instead, you should select your KPIs with the specific user in mind.
For instance, the company’s social media marketer likely finds click through rates (CTR) and social media referrals useful. He or she probably won’t consider server capacity interesting. All of the information appearing on the user’s screen should be helpful to that particular user.
If it isn’t, the user will spend a lot of his or her time skipping over bits of irrelevant data. Thus, creating the optimal dashboard begins with understanding the user and his or her needs.
Selecting the Correct Dashboard
Dashboard creators can choose from many different dashboard examples and templates that are available on the market. In general, you can distinguish between strategic/executive, analytical, and operational dashboards. Of course, each type of board has its plusses and minuses.
The strategic/executive will feature KPIs that company executives will find especially useful. Analytical dashboards, on the other hand, display more detailed data. They also allow the user to drill down and open up more data for review. Lastly, the operational dashboards display information that monitors the smooth functioning of your business. Through it, you will be able to discover issues that threaten your business’s day-to-day operations.
Choosing the right KPIs to track is only the first hurdle in setting up your business dashboard. Almost as important is determining the juxtaposition of each individual KPI. Optimizing the layout of each KPI will help users to have the best possible experiences.
Being able to view related KPIs in close proximity to each other will help users to absorb data more easily. It will also help them to be alert to correlations between data points. On the other hand, poor grouping has the opposite effect. Far from being able to absorb related data points at a glance, users must search the screen for the data they need.
Dealing with poor data grouping will lower the user’s productivity and leave him or her frustrated. Additionally, board creators should position KPIs on the screen in accordance with reading habits. For instance, in Western culture reading is done from left to right and from top to bottom. Likewise, the most important KPIs should begin at the top left corner.
Streamline Your Dashboard
If your dashboard becomes cluttered with KPIs, it can slow you down. Too many data points tend to distract you from your work. Even if those KPIs are tangentially related to your work, they can be a waste of your time if they do not provide you with relevant information at the time you need it.
Stats must not only be relevant. They must be useful as well. If the KPIs do not provide you with an apples-to-apples comparison of stats, then there might not be much of a point to using them. Data’s usefulness lies in its applicability and reliability.
KPIs that do not engender a greater understanding of the company’s standing might as well not be on the dashboard. They serve no other purpose than squandering valuable screen space. For instance, the company’s sales manager probably does not need to be made abreast of every single sales KPI available—just the ones that are relevant to his or her work.
So there is such a thing as too much data. This is true even for KPIs that you want to track. Many KPIs tend to require an abundance of refreshing. Too much data is overwhelming and won’t do much to improve your understanding of your company’s standing since it requires processing and number-crunching.
When you’re handling a lot of data, monthly or weekly data feeds could be extremely helpful. However, some users might find a high refresh rate more useful than others. Those using an operational dashboard might find that frequent refreshing provides them with data that conveys the health of the company’s vital infrastructure. Conversely, executive/strategic board users might rely more on information that has already been processed.
The onus is on the board creator to select the best type of chart for the data being represented. Far too many times board creators attempt to shoehorn data into a chart type that simply doesn’t fit that type of data.
A well-chosen chart should help the user to digest the data. A chart that is used incorrectly could lead to confusion and frustration. Board creators should learn how to appropriately use line, bar and pie charts to improve the readability of their boards.
Creating a dashboard that is both useful and easy to use is not an easy task. Although board creators might tend to overthink the process, the best approach is to stay simple and add more functionality as the need arises. Board creators must keep the user in the center of their thoughts at all times.
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