Dashboard: Planning before you start

Dashboard: Planning before you start

Despite the advent of artificial intelligence, business intelligence is still relevant, because if AI is the brain that drives your business, BI is your eyes! So here are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to conceptualizing a dashboard.

1- Ad hoc or recurring need?

Given a particular situation, you are often asked to do an analysis or even to follow up on an issue. Do not make the mistake of integrating it too quickly into a dashboard! Dashboards should allow you to focus on what is important and on long-term trends.

You may be asked to provide a follow-up report on a particular situation, and it may well be necessary to do so. But you also need to know when to stop the report in question, otherwise it is quite easy to end up having to produce dozens of reports every month… that no one reads. Want to know if your report is still relevant? Stop sharing it and see if anyone is checking in.

2 – Each audience has its own dashboard!

It is better to have a few dashboards that serve specific audiences than one that tries to appeal to everyone. Within your organization, needs may vary from one individual to another, but there are two main ways to divide users: functional and hierarchical. The functional axis is obvious, while each department may have specific and operational needs. The hierarchical axis responds to more strategic needs.

3- Putting up a dashboard on the sly is a no-no!

Do not design a dashboard on your own and do not wait until it is perfect before showing it off. Designing a dashboard or report is an iterative process that requires the business Intelligence specialist to work closely with business units. Do not wait until the very end before showing it to your future users.

First, present them with a visual canvas to get their feedback. Discuss the changes to be made and feel free to question some of their proposals. Do not say yes to everything! You risk overloading the dashboard and future users will end up no longer consulting what you have designed for them. Keep in mind that dashboard metrics must be actionable and relevant to the organization’s objectives.

4- A frequency adapted to what you measure and your organization

Especially important! If you track your indicators too closely, there is a risk of a lot of noise and variability in the results. You risk oscillating between panic and excitement from one period to the next. Find the frequency that suits your organization and the indicators you want to track.

Furthermore, more frequent monitoring will probably be necessary for indicators related to your current operations that require immediate action, whereas a strategic dashboard for the management team should be less frequent.

5- BI is a business project, not just IT

Even though your IT department (if you have one) will be involved sooner or later in the development, business intelligence projects and dashboard design must be a corporate project. It is the business need that should dictate what happens next. All too often, the starting point is the opposite; we identify all the possible and unimaginable data to which the organization has access, we want to centralize everything and build a series of reports to justify the investment that has been made. You can plan for the long term but prioritize and develop according to your most important and urgent needs. This will allow you to have a better idea of the scope and anticipated benefits for the next project or increment to be delivered.

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