As the amount of data available continues to grow, organisations are moving towards Business Intelligence (BI) reporting to manage and present insights from noisy, messy, and unstructured data. Business organisations are taking the advantage of emerging technologies to prep, wrangle and visualise the data. Dashboards created using BI tools often transform data from different sources presented in different formats into actionable insights. However, dashboards communicate varying information depending on the target.
Tools such as PowerBI, Tableau, Sisense and Qlikview have become dominant in business intelligence reporting, capable of producing interactive dashboards. Dashboards are built to tell a story about data, expose user needs, highlight key pain points, provide insight on key performance indicators and measure success against business goals. Where reporting dashboards cannot deliver this, they are as good as noisy. A good dashboard is not just about appealing charts and graphs but should begin by identifying the whys, what’s and how.
Is there a problem that needs a story to be written, why is this problem important?
The lack of a clear problem statement distorts the purpose of visualising data. An effective dashboard should be able to identify problems with data, learn the data and provide insightful solutions to the problems.
What are the objectives or goals the business need to achieve?
An effective dashboard should be able to communicate a point to relevant stakeholders. For example, what business goals you are trying to achieve, what type of data is key to your goals, what key indicators are you relying on to achieve the set objectives?
How will success look like, is it measurable?
Business reporting dashboards are key to any data-driven organisation, but they can be meaningless if not effectively used. For example, if you prepare a corporate or analytical dashboard and present it to the operational staff, it may not make any business sense hence useless. Dashboards which deliver as per business goals are always powered by key performance indicators (KPIs) and associated metrics which are measurable and decision oriented.
Types of dashboards
- Operational – Reports on daily operational activities, helping middle-level managers identify any potential issues with business processes.
- Analytical – Tells a story about data collected over a period, spot data trends based on outlined metrics and propose actionable insights.
- Strategic – Reports on defined business goals, how success looks like and if it is measurable. The top executive relies on such dashboards for strategic planning and decision making.
In summary, dashboards play a major role in continuous performance monitoring within an organisation. They mainly rely on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that align to clearly defined problems as well as realistic business goals.