The dashboard is a revolutionary business data reporting and management tool. Typically, they come full of important business metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), which they track, analyze and provide visual feedback of, to be used in aligning the execution of one or a collection of business processes with the business strategies towards achieving laid out operational goals. In other words, the dashboard is efficient for keeping track of where the company stands as compared to targeted performance and ultimately for making informed decisions quickly.
Business dashboards are customizable in many different ways, but regardless of how complex they can get, they are usually made up of simple visual indicators, tables, line and bar charts, used to exhibit KPIs for real-time monitoring on the computer screen, or printed to a business report and a business scorecard.
When well organized and focused, a business analysis and reporting system such as the performance dashboards, offers users, business managers and analysts, many benefits. The following are some of the benefits to any organization regardless of size, location and industry:
KPIs are important tools that bring about organization-wide success. Here are some of the benefits of KPI software to manage Key performance indicators:
It is important to note that a KPI dashboard, rather than just being an online visual report, is setup to influence actionable business decisions and outcomes. That being said, they should only showcase ‘key performance indicators’; not every single metric or performance indicator that exists. For the dashboard to be friendly and without distractions to its observers, there are certain requisites that may need to be met.
Prioritizing performance results and metrics on the business dashboard is an important part in getting your dashboard project moving. Dashboards must be setup to closely align with the business goals and as a direct response to business needs.
Because of their versatility, the same dashboard software may be applicable to a whole range of companies and industries. Clearly, there are universal KPIs, which tend to be easy to interpret and applicable to various companies. Some of these are, Operating Costs, Revenue, and Gross Profit. Also, attention may need to be given to certain other KPIs known to directly or indirectly influence the universal KPIs.
Aside from providing an overall picture of the business’ performance, the dashboard also allows one to go into details at various levels. For instance, from the universal KPI, Revenue, Sales Revenue could be previewed, proceeding to specific Product Sales and then to the individual Product Cost of Sales. These related to time periods will be useful in deducing seasonal variation.
With the performance dashboards becoming easier and faster to setup, one might be tempted to want to load up the dashboard with as much metrics are supported on the visualization software. It is even possible, to have different renderings of the same metric, cluttering up the dashboard with little room for other indicators. Just because an indicator is there, doesn't mean you must use it. Keeping in mind that the more precise you are about your KPIs, the better your chance at achieving your goals with the dashboard.
An efficient test to decide which metrics to display is to go through each item on the board and ask oneself:
The purpose of the business dashboard becomes facilitated when the metrics paraded are logically related. That way, an onlooker can quickly comprehend the business’ KPIs and then make up a holistic picture of the company as a whole.3. KPIs that do not communicate customers` interests
Try not to be selfish when setting up your business’ dashboard by focusing only on factors that matter to the business regardless of whether they directly or indirectly communicate the customers’ satisfaction and needs. Failing to align the company’s key metric performance with the customer service experience may not go down too well with using KPI dashboards to work smarter and increasing productivity.4. Wrong visual presentations
Aside from selecting the right KPI data, how they are presented also counts. The most commonly recommended way to track performance changes over time is with the line chart, because of all visual aids used in data analysis, they tend to be the quickest to grasp. Stringent attention must be paid to the selection of visualizations to convey business data distribution, as this can make a difference when it comes to having an efficient dashboard.
KPIs are best functional when they are drawn up as frequencies, that is, against ‘optimal’ time periods. For example, it would be unnecessary to display the number of unique visitors to the website hourly when there are often fluctuations, however, by collecting over a month, better patterns and comparisons can be drawn of the data, which can then be displayed.
It is not enough to have selected the best set of KPIs and know just which visual aids are best to relay them, one must also consider the optimal frequency that the data would be displayed on the dashboard.6. Leaving out employees
Part of the dashboard creation process should involve input and feedback from members across the company. Also, for it to be most useful, the dashboard should be available to everyone.
Don’t assume that they know better; be sure to enlighten your employees on the purpose of the dashboard, and why the setup visuals have been chosen.
Needless to say, employees that know that their performance is being watched and noted, tend to take the opportunity to continually act right and improve their work.7. Underestimating the power of visual design
Remember the dashboard is not for decoration. Providing a clear and user-friendly business dashboard is prerequisite to a logical and usable presentation of data.
Be judicious in your use of colors, fonts and the other design components. Keep the dashboard features simple, complementary and pleasing to the eyes.8. Information gaps
Yes, less is more, but sometimes less can be way too less. Just as metric overload, insufficiency or poor data is as damaging to the dashboard. Truth is; a dashboard that gives incomplete data will be perceived as an unreliable one.
Being very pragmatic with the setup process will very well pay off and remember, reliability truly sets apart a simple KPI dashboard as a critical business performance improvement tool.
Ultimately, you must understand that nothing is fixed and unchangeable. Things change, companies and businesses evolve and so should dashboards. A forgotten dashboard soon starts to be inaccurate, misleading, and irrelevant. Regular reviews, and pruning away of metrics/KPIs, charts, graphs, etc. that no longer are relevant, keeps the dashboards more productive.
Enough said, here are some of the features and considerations to a beautifully-setup and functional dashboard: