What is the Purpose of a Dashboard?

What is the purpose of a Dashboard?

As an iDashboards Technical Consultant, to start off my training when I visit onsite I ask the question, “What is the purpose of a dashboard?”  There is typically a 10 second pause while everyone thinks.  Common answers are, “To see information” or, “To do what the boss asks.” One person even said, “To make pretty charts.”

Before you read on, ask yourself, “What is the purpose of one of my dashboards?”

I believe the purpose of a dashboard is to, “Visualize data to make an informed decision.”

A Dashboard is comprised of charts.  A good chart turns data into information by visualizing trends, displaying outliers and using color to highlight data above or below a given target.  iDashboards correlates data in charts to provide even better information.  When the dashboard audience (manager, Director, VP) connects the information, watch for that “A-ha” moment.  Listen for the phrase, “That’s cool!” Or if the audience is from a younger generation you might hear, “Wicked!”

That moment is a powerful insight.  One customer used an iDashboards chart to track late shipments by day of the week.  The chart showed that beginning on Wednesday, late shipments increased significantly. This customer got excited about this powerful insight and took the next natural step: make a decision. The customer increased manufacturing on Tuesdays to increase inventory.  Thus, they saved $10,000/week in expedited shipping costs.

Isn’t that cool?  That makes my day because the chart’s purpose resulted in a positive impact.

So, before you build your next dashboard, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is the audience?
  • Why should the audience care?
  • What message will the dashboard deliver?

When you have the answers (and the data!), your dashboard will create powerful insights.

Paul Ligeski – Sr. Technical Consultant, iDashboards

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