Decision makers need dashboards to help their organization move toward success. Dashboards can help them understand their data, fix ineffective business processes, and identify new business opportunities through the right visualizations. To achieve constant improvement through the use of business intelligence dashboards, decision makers should answer a few questions beforehand.
Here are five questions to ask yourself before building a dashboard:
- Who are the end users of the dashboard?
- What is the objective of the dashboard?
- Which kind of data processing mode is suitable?
- How does the data need to be visualized?
- Where does the dashboard need to be accessed?
In this blog, we will explore in detail the answers to these questions to prepare for creating a dashboard that will be used by decision makers.
Who are the end users of the dashboard?
You need to plan the dashboard considering the target audience and their interaction requirements. The target audience can be one of four categories:
- IT users
- Business users
- Data analysts
The IT team in an organization plays a vital role in administering business processes. The team defines business dashboard tools to derive the best decisions from the organization’s data. The IT team closely monitors the departments in an organization and runs the necessary reports to fill the gaps between them and other businesses to increase productivity and identify areas for improvement.
Business executives or CEOs monitor a business intelligence dashboard that is understandable at a single glance. A CEO controls the business using dashboards by staying informed of areas for improvement that will help the business grow and innovate. Executives maintain a vision of the dashboard’s end state, and if it goes off track anywhere, they will convey this to the IT team. The IT team then works on the requirements provided and runs reports, which the executives use to decide what they can do to improve the generated dashboard reports.
Business users look for ways to support a department by doing efficient and effective work. They will have less knowledge about using business intelligence tools, but they are skilled in providing requirements or focus to the dashboard to report business activities. Usually business users prefer to be trained to perform deep analysis using dashboards.
The data analysts’ role is to document business data to identify similar patterns and automate data processes that will create dashboards for the business’ decision-making process. Data analysts usually focus on data with in-depth analyses and find new insights to improve the business strategy for both internal and external users.
What is the objective of the dashboard?
A business dashboard provides a visualization of business data to communicate metrics and other key points to the user at a glance. This empowers the user to make better decisions. Effective dashboards should convey a story easily and simply. You should consider the following points before creating a dashboard:
- Determine the right metrics from your data. Is all the included data necessary for the dashboard?
- Visually, dashboards should be logically presented. You should consider grouping data, selecting appropriate widgets, utilizing proper colors for the best appeal, and filtering data to avoid showing unwanted data and provide the most important statistics.
- Dashboards should be easy to understand for all types of end users.
- Dashboard visuals may need to provide real-time data from multiple sources and keep users updated with live data for making the best business decisions and data analysis.
- Dashboards should connect all suitable KPIs by considering business strategies to make them more actionable.
Which kind of data processing mode is suitable?
Data processing modes can be classified as either direct or extract. Direct mode allows you to handle live data, whereas extract mode allow you to import data into an intermediate database instead of executing queries in the actual database server to fetch data.
If you have data from local files in your system or social network data (REST data sources), you can choose extract mode to move the data into an intermediate database to fetch data with or without scheduled refresh.
If you have data in a database, you can choose direct or extract data processing modes based on the requirements and situation. You can choose the direct processing mode when you want to see the live data from the database, and you can choose the extract mode when you want to reduce the impact on the database where the data resides. Extract mode should be preferred when you want to fetch data from the database on a scheduled basis.
You can check out this blog to learn about creating data sources using file connections, database connections, web API connections, OAuth connections, and multiple data sources, and how to share and edit data sources.
How does the data need to be visualized?
Data can be visualized using graphics containing visual objects—i.e. column, pie, or bar widgets, etc.—to communicate information. Visualizing your data helps decision makers check analytics presented visually, since visualization through charts is more appealing to the human brain than reading business reports to understand the story. Business organizations are increasingly turning to their data and visualizing it to guide them to making the best business decisions and achieve their planned business goal.
You should choose the right widgets for your dashboards by deciding what story you plan to convey, analyzing specific trends within your data, illuminating relationships between the data, and defining proper KPIs to best visualize your data in dashboards.
Your data needs to be visualized in a dashboard in a way that fits both executive-level and lower-level employees. Create a dashboard that applies a filter such that if an employee logs in and checks the dashboard, they should only see details relevant to them. Similarly, if a team lead or executive logs in and checks the dashboard, they should see the details of all the employees who report to them. This type of filtering applied to dashboards helps avoid creating the same dashboards for different types of end users.
Where does the dashboard need to be accessed?
You can access business intelligence dashboards by using either desktop or mobile devices. Nowadays, decision makers prefer to use mobile devices to monitor dashboards interactively since mobile usage is constantly growing in the real world. Both desktop and mobile platforms are growing in the modern business world. Based on the user interactions and monitoring purposes, you should choose the target devices that fit your requirements.
Desktop dashboards need to be accessed when users prefer to work in the browser and spend time focusing on published dashboards. If you need to build, edit, or manage the KPIs of dashboards with in-depth analysis and use them for a variety of data explorations, you will likely prefer desktop dashboards.
Mobile displays are much smaller than desktops and provide just enough space for a high-level analysis of data. If you just want to monitor the outline of the business dashboard performance, you will likely prefer mobile dashboards. Mobile dashboards can be used to view KPIs and other important metrics at a glance to monitor business performance.
With this blog, we hope that you have learned how to better prepare your business dashboards by considering five major questions about the dashboard audience, objective, data processing, and more. Meet your business goals by setting the right path for your business strategies using business data and visualization widgets before creating dashboards.
If you don’t have a dashboard yet, we suggest you try our Bold BI dashboards which now offer a 15-day free trial with no credit card information required. We welcome you to start a free trial and experience Bold BI for yourself. We also suggest you have a look at our previous blog post on 10 excellent business intelligence dashboard examples with live demos to get started immediately.