It seems like wherever I go on my engagements, my clients are really excited about the fact that they are going to be able to use a “state of the art” dashboard development tool. Typically, an engagement starts out with what is called “knowledge transfer”, which basically means that I show the clients a number of things: how the dashboard building process works, what the available functionalities are (e.g. interactive intelligence and input parameters) and what kind of chart types come with the product. There are also hands-on workshops that give the clients the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the product and deepen their understanding about the product.
Now, depending on the type of engagement, there is usually additional time for dashboard development. The idea here is to storyboard out how the client’s data could be visualized with the product and then to actually build dashboards. In some cases, data is available but there are also instances where the clients have an idea about the metrics, but the data is not ready (e.g. missing database views). In those cases mock data can be used to develop dashboards. This is really not a big issue because once the “real” data sources become available, connecting existing dashboards to those data sources can be done with little effort.
From what I have described so far, it is obvious that there is some effort required by the client during an engagement. The ultimate goal here is to put them into a position where they are able to build dashboards without any further guidance and I can honestly say that goal is reached by the time I leave the client. But what I wanted to point out, though, is the fact that I don’t want the client to be already content with what they have built so far. I don’t want the client to stop there, I want them to “go the extra mile” and explore the different options that the product offers. If time was already invested in understanding the product and building dashboards, why not spend some more time to “perfect” the dashboards? Why not use different colors than the default colors? Why not use different chart types and not always column charts? Why not use available functionalities like interactive intelligence to make the dashboards more interactive? This may very well be the difference between “ordinary dashboards” and “extraordinary dashboards”!
Aziz Sanal – Technical Consultant, iDashboards