Strategies to Effectively Use Dashboards
The way that companies use dashboards varies greatly from business to business. While some may see dashboards as an effective way to present data to corporate executives, others take it a step further because they understand that dashboards can give the entire organization a competitive advantage. Here are some strategies that can help maximize dashboard value across your business:
Take a Broad Approach
It’s all too common for businesses to take a narrow approach when implementing dashboards. They either use them solely for the executive management team, a single department, or a select few staff members. Unfortunately, these approaches prevent dashboards from being utilized in a way that fully benefits the company. Making them available to key decision makers across all lines of business areas can help solve the problem.
Be Sure to Set Up Alerts
From a BI perspective, dashboards are invaluable to helping you see at a glance how the business is doing at any given point in time. However, what happens if a sales executive doesn’t have an opportunity to view his dashboard one day (which he religiously does every morning) and now something is impacting service levels for one of his key customers? Incidents like this can be costly in so many ways. One way to prevent this is to set up alerts so that key business users are notified immediately to potential issues before they spiral out of control.
Make Them Interactive
While the beauty of dashboards lies in their ability to present high-level snapshots of key performance data in visual way, providing links or interactive graphics that enable users to further explore the underlying data can provide even more value to you. Imagine clicking on a bar in a graph to see what specific SKUs in a product line are declining in sales or on a map’s particular geographic area to see which customers in a specific market are being underserviced and on what route. Bringing dashboards to life in this way helps users digest information much more easily than manually digging through rows of numbers to find the information they need.
Present Dashboard Data By What Users Need to See
One of the reasons why companies don’t often allow the dashboards to be used company-wide is because they don’t always deliver the information that each department needs. Even if there is a dashboard created for each department, that still isn’t good enough. For instance, the sales department could have a dashboard that shows sales figures and other useful information. However, not everyone in the sales department is necessarily concerned with the big picture. Individual members of the sales team may be more interested in whether or not they are meeting their sales goals. Their dashboards should be set up so that the information that’s displayed is totally pertinent to each one of them based on their user profile, regardless of whether someone in IT or the user him- or herself creates the dashboard. It’s also useful to not only display performance data on a dashboard, but to highlight actual performance against goals and benchmarks on it as well.
Be Sure to Automate Them
Too often, companies rely on manual dashboard updates, but this is a flawed approach. Users can often be time-crunched to remember to update them, which can severely impact their usefulness. In fact, an out of date dashboard can be just as bad, if not worse, than not using the dashboard in the first place since decisions based on faulty data can have disastrous consequences. To solve this problem, set the updates to occur automatically.
Utilizing these strategies will help you use business dashboards to their fullest potential.