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!
Read next: Defining Strategic KPIs
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