Business Tips

Sean Warren here, blogging live from the #iDashboards16 Conference in Las Vegas.  A very interesting Q&A style session to report on – Finding Data: The Hidden Metrics Driving your Organization.


We started the session relating a dashboard project to the movie Finding Dory.  “Start with what you know and build on that.” – Mark Bliss

Start with what you know and build on that. Click To Tweet

Mark asked Cassie what her inspiration was behind the first dashboard she ever made. Her manager had an idea of a very visual dashboard that would tell you if you were winning or losing in 4 key areas – Sales Growth, Gross Profit, Budget vs Actual, and Net Profit. The dashboard they built showed these 4 metrics and allowed them to scroll through the country exploring what regions were winning and losing.

Cassie now has 230 dashboards, over 1,000 charts, 168 users, and 3 LCDs.

Zach Briemayer, Principal Pre-Sales Engineer at iDashboards, went through what makes for a successful implementation when you are getting started with a dashboard project. He always spends time before the engagement to discuss the status of the data environment and what they want to accomplish while he’s training onsite. Then together they rank dashboards by order of importance, so they can get the best start.

Zach shared 3 steps to create engaging dashboards:

  1. Find the data and work on the queries
  2. Build the dashboard framework and charts
  3. Focus on the look, feel and branding

Mark asked Cassie how she keeps the dashboards fresh. Cassie answered that she uses the visibility pack to see who’s interacting with the dashboards. She also reminded users if they asked for a dashboard or feature that isn’t being used to Listen and be flexible.

Read next: Business Strategy Barriers to Entry

Finding data iDashboards Conference

iDashboards allows them to drilldown to the line item detail we were never able to publish before. – Cassie McCombs, Ultradent

iDashboards allows them to drilldown to the line item detail we were never able to publish before. Click To Tweet

When getting started, Cassie reaches out to internal clients to understand what they need daily to complete their job.  She then segments the project into stages and builds it, just like Dory!

When asked how do you know what’s important to end users, Cassie answered, “We get asked a lot of questions”. If the end user can’t get an instant answer, they lose focus and productivity. She created user guides for end users to navigate the dashboards and find KPIs. After training users, she gave them a quiz to find specific data points.

The lowest person in the business usually knows the numbers the best.

Cassie left us with an important note, the users of your dashboards are your customers – if you’re not providing value to the customers then you’re not servicing your customers.

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Sean Warren Program Manager for Implementation and Solutions Consulting @iDashboards

Sean has helped hundreds of clients transform their rows and columns into beautiful dashboards and is currently focused on client on-boarding, consulting, and retention. He has a passion for non-profit success with experience in QuickBooks, Microsoft SQL Server, and various data-prep tools. When he's not building dashboards, you'll find him on a mountain bike with his son (Arthur) or vacuuming fur from 2 Siberian Huskies (Nymeria and Sven).


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