A business dashboard is like a shiny new toy, and everyone loves a shiny new toy! But before you start playing with it, there are 5 things you should consider.
Spend some time on this initial planning stage and you will be rewarded with a solid foundation that you can build your dashboard on.
1. Know your audience
Begin by taking a step back to identify why you’re building a dashboard in the first place.
Dashboards are most effective when they’re targeted to a specific type of user so that they can display only the data that’s relevant to that audience. Once you know who your audience is, you’ll understand whether you’re making an operational, strategic or analytical dashboard. You can read more about these three types of dashboards here.
Be aware that some audiences may need access to more than one kind of dashboard. In such cases, try to separate the data into several dashboards and run them in a sharing loop.
2. Define your business KPIs and team KPIs
Take a step back and consider what the key performance indicators of your business are. You should only put actionable metrics on your dashboard – metrics that are going to drive behaviour or build confidence and boost morale around what’s happening.
Here’s a useful article explaining a very visual technique called KPI Trees that will help you figure out your KPIs and understand how they relate to each other, courtesy of Unboxed Consulting.
3. Plan a rough layout
Well-chosen KPIs will tell a coherent story about the state of your business and the layout of your dashboard should facilitate the telling of that story. It could be as simple as setting up the metrics in a way that follows your sales funnel from the top down.
Remember that the most important real-estate on you dashboard is the top left-hand corner, and when it comes to making information easy to digest, ‘less is more’.
An easy, low-tech way to experiment with your layout is with the Post-it note approach.
4. Choose your visualisations
The key in choosing visualisations is picking one that suits your objective around that data - e.g. a number with a goal is good for monthly revenue target, a leaderboard is great for sales team motivation, and a line chart is suitable when it’s important to see the trend over time.
It’s worth reading Dashboard Design Best Practices for a comprehensive overview that also briefly introduces you to some common data visualisations and when to use them.
5. Share your dashboard
Put your business dashboard on a TV screen so your team can easily view it. Often. It will allow them to measure their performance in real time and understand the impact they have on the business as a whole.
Sharing your metrics in this transparent way will help build a data-driven culture in your business and encourage metrics-based discussions and decision-making.
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