Dashboards 101

Dashboards have become strategic plans for nearly every organization today as a means for monitoring the entire business, used to convey relevant, oftentimes real-time statistical information, pertaining to a dizzying array of metrics and KPIs. Doesn’t it then make sense then that the most crucial part of their development actually happens before that? The all-important planning phase, or as I’ve often heard it called, storyboarding.

Storyboarding, much in the way a cartoon is produced, allows us to “put it on paper”, and get an idea of how our dashboard will look prior to lifting a single developmental finger. Having a database full of sales figures and the ability to turn them into intelligible metrics require thought and planning. Questions need to be asked, such as: How should my company’s sales be grouped? Over what kind of time period? And for who, or in relation to what? All of these questions address key issues that relate directly to the data and will ultimately affect the way in which our metrics are displayed on that dashboard.

The “ready, fire, aim” process often employed in a hastened attempt to deliver dashboards to a customer speak volumes to the wasted time, effort, and money we see all too often on failed implementations. Through the use of a proper storyboarding process we rearrange our timeline just slightly, aim before we pull the trigger, yes take a little longer for implementation, and deliver data in effective, meaningful visual manner that will lead to nothing less than highly successful dashboard implementations.

Jason Wolan, Technical Consultant, iDashboards

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