Hello, loyal readers. If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you know that successful dashboard projects must be planned carefully. If you need a refresher, our dashboard storyboarding article explains how to define the What, Who, and When for each metric or chart. There is another important question that I like to ask – and that is “Why?”
I am not a fan of cramming every possible metric into dashboards. I like to focus on the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) – the metrics that matter the most to my audience and help them make decisions. I know that I only have a certain amount of screen real estate, and my viewers are busy people with short attention spans. Each metric, therefore, has to earn a place in my dashboard, so it better be something really important!
Asking “why?” helps me determine not just what gets reported, but what action to take based on that information. Suppose I have a chart that tells me that my company’s expenses are up 10% over last year. I should look at it and ask, “Why is that important? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” You see, expenses only tell part of the story. Hopefully the story gets better and income is also way up. In this example, a better metric might be net profit/loss, and the answer to “why?” is because THAT tells me how my business is doing overall. Now I know whether to congratulate someone or yell at them!
As data-driven decision makers, you should never be satisfied with the status quo. Question why each chart is in your dashboard, and understand what your metrics are telling you – and what they are not. Transform your data into more than meets the “why?”
Warren Singh– Technical Consultant, iDashboards