July 11, 2016 ↘︎

What Makes a Good Dashboard

Are you suffering from analysis paralysis? Are you short on time and need a tool to help you quickly see your most important information? If so, a dashboard could be the answer.

What is a dashboard anyway?

We like to think of a dashboard in the same way you would think of the dashboard on your car. It’s a single screen/page snapshot of your most important information. In business, this would be your KPIs. A dashboard quickly lets you see that everything is working as it should, or more importantly, if it’s not. And just like the dashboard in your car, it’s not a tool for exploring or analysing. Even though a dashboard will give you an alert when something is wrong, it’s not going to tell you exactly what’s wrong under the hood of your car.

During our workshops, we noticed that some people wanted a dashboard because they didn’t want to use their analytics platform. While not all team members directly use their analytics platforms, it’s important to note that a dashboard is not a replacement for analytics. You’ve likely already invested in a powerful analytics program, don’t try to rebuild it in a dashboard, because you are going to fail and you are also going to end up with an unusable dashboard.

Why invest in a dashboard?

You might not have time to go into your analytics platform on a weekly basis to make sure that all of your campaign and sales numbers are on track, and a dashboard will give you a quick snapshot of your most important information. It’s also a great tool to use in meetings, because it should have answers to top level questions people will be asking you. If you’re proactive, send your weekly or monthly dashboard to your boss, so they know exactly where you’re tracking against your KPIs without them having to ask.

What makes a good dashboard:

1.Single Purpose

Do you want to keep track of how your campaigns are performing or the progress of your retention program? Those are both great purposes, but they should be on two seperate dashboards so not to muddy up the results. If you’re having trouble figuring out your purpose, ask yourself what your main reason for being part of the company is or what is the primary business objective.

2.Single Audience

Who is the core audience for your dashboard? Yourself? Your client? Your boss? If it’s more than one audience, you probably need more than one dashboard.

3. Key Performance Metrics (KPIs)

In order for your dashboard to be useful, it needs to focus on metrics that are essential to your business success. KPIs aren’t lame metrics, but instead a metric that your raise or promotion hinges on. It’s something that you would call your boss about at 7pm on a Saturday if your KPI went up or down 20% suddenly. If it meets that criteria, add it to your dashboard. If not, it’s probably something you could save for a SubReport.

4. Visualisation

Keep your visualisation simple. Focus on your KPIs, targets, and trends.

5. SubReports

A dashboard is limited to key metrics. Don’t try to mash reports into your dashboard. If you want a buffer between your dashboard & your analytics suite, create supplementary reports “sub reports” that get sent out at the same time as your dashboard, so you can quickly dig deeper if any of your KPIs are outside of bounds.

Don’t make these dashboard mistakes:

1.Don’t add too much information in a dashboard. If you flood the dashboard with too much data, it becomes difficult to see what’s really important.

2. If you try to add too many modules in the dashboard, it will be cluttered and hard to read.

3. Don’t try to replace analytics with your dashboard – after all, that’s what analytics is for, and more than likely you are paying a lot for it. While a good dashboard should answer your simple questions, like, “Am I on track to reach my sales goals?”, it won’t tell you why you are or aren’t meeting those targets. In order to find out “why”, you still need to dig deeper, either in your SubReports or in your analytics platform.

Now you’ve got the tools to create your own dashboard and propel yourself into data driven stardom.

If you want to talk to us about Dashboards – get in touch

The content and advice contained in this post may be out of date. Last updated on July 11, 2016.
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