By Cedric Fillmore, Data Analytics Practice Director
Having company data but no way to dissect and understand it is just words and numbers jumbled on a screen or piece of paper. Well-planned dashboards are created in an effort to quickly and effectively understand data. The key phrase here is well-planned.
Dashboards allow you to ask and answer questions while turning these words and numbers into actionable insights within your department and organization. So how do you build well-planned and effective dashboards?
You will need to build dashboards that tell a story across several sets of data while presenting data visually for a quick understanding and ability to share. Start by implementing these six best practices into your dashboards and you will begin to build innovative and useful information.
6 Best Practices for Effective Dashboards
- Connect to all of your data
Chances are you have a lot of data in many different places. You need to connect to all of the data that can shed light on the questions you’re trying to answer. Once you collect this relevant data from all of the different sources, you need to provide secure, convenient access to your dashboards so they will actually be utilized. Flexibility during this process is key
- Blend your data together
Combining or blending data from multiple sources on a common field allows for a holistic view and will elevate understanding and decision-making. There is no more time to load all data into a single storage destination as new data sources appear regularly and this data is needed in real time, not six months from now. No matter the data, blending it on a common field will increase overall understanding and action.
- Choose Metrics that matter
Be highly selective in determining which metrics to include, making sure every metric connects to organizational objectives and the mission. Not every metric should be included in a dashboards data. The right metrics will help you ask and answer questions to uncover the why. Make sure to effectively explain how each metric contributes to the organizational objectives and mission.
- Utilize better visualizations
Dashboards are meant to be easy and fast to read, the opposite of number-based tables. You want to have variety in exploring your answers with several different visual designs. Real data wins are seen within multiple types of more advanced visuals. How can you do this? Include variety, interactive, up-to-date, and forward-looking visuals. Avoid the typical pie charts and bar charts, and focus on displaying various graphs and charts on one single dashboard. Comprehension is faster when data is displayed in these types of visuals. Work on answering unanticipated questions quickly by having current and interactive dashboards created.
- Use your data in the field
Making business intelligence mobile allows business users to access information when and where it’s needed. Mobile analytic tools are mature enough for business users to now access their data and dashboards on the go. Workers from all areas of the business and in different locations can analyze data and begin to collaborate with one another.
- Share for collaboration
Once different users interact with the same data sets, viewers will have unique questions allowing for in-depth understanding. Dashboards are meant to be shared! Make sure that they are easily shared and can be viewed by everyone. What are some easy ways to make sure your dashboards can be shared for collaboration? Use simple browser-based distribution, embed dashboards in existing reporting tools, and make sure to test your distribution plan for feedback.
Now that you understand how to effectively use Dashboards within your organization, take a look at our Data Visualization 101 e-book for a beginner's look at how to get started.