Dashboards and Data Viz

Streamlining your business and seeing it succeed is your ultimate goal. Like most, that’s probably why you’ve turned to – or are looking into – dashboards as your solution for a quick KPI (key performance indicator) snapshot. But without the proper preparation, sometimes a dashboard can seem as difficult as putting together IKEA furniture. There’s a lot of pretty pictures but if you overlook important steps, your final product can be dramatically different. Luckily, we’ve drafted a cheat sheet for you to overcome any dashboard downfalls (sorry, we’re still working on one for IKEA.)

Here are some of the most common dashboard fails, with proper instructions on to resolve them.

So Many KPIs, So Little Time

dashboard failsYou want to track EVERYTHING. But sometimes it can get out of hand. Defining a large number of KPIs is a common mistake. The trick is to identify KPIs that produce actionable information. For example, if you work for a nonprofit organization, you need to keep an eye on donations and track who your biggest contributors are. However, creating KPIs for Sammy Samuelson on how much he spends annually, the name of his dog, and where he shops for groceries might be important information, but not as applicable as the amount he donates and how often.

So choose wisely and take your time to look at all the data to determine the story you want to tell. The more in line with your business’ story is with your dashboard, the happier you will be with the final results.

Take time to look at all the data to determine the story you want to tell. Click To Tweet

Making Monochromatic (or Multicolored) Monstrosities

One of the best features of iDashboards is the ability to create customized dashboards filled with colorful charts and graphs. Your dashboard definitely shouldn’t be monochromatic, but it also shouldn’t look like a vibrant 80s painting. Stick to a predetermined color palette of your choosing made of complementary colors. By restraining the number of hues included, you can create focal points to draw attention to what is really important.

Implementing Too Early

dashboard drilldownWe get it – you’re excited to start building dashboards. But if you haven’t properly prepped, all your work could be a waste. Creating dashboards without first storyboarding them can lead to an inconsistent or incomplete story, ultimately confusing your dashboard viewers.

It’s also important to get buy-in early. Bring together a focus group and see if they:

  1. Can easily understand the dashboard without questions.
  2. Will use it and will the dashboard make their workload easier.
  3. Have any suggestions for making it more effective.

Once you’ve put these into practice, you should be set for creating more effective, usable dashboards.

Read next: Business Strategy Barriers to Entry

Combining All of Your Data Sources (All At Once)

Your organization probably has a CRM, ERP, EHR, scheduling software, Quickbooks, marketing automation, or numerous other systems that house your information. A dashboard is able to combine all of that information into once place so you can pull reports quickly and efficiently.

However, just because you can combine all your data sources together doesn’t always mean you should. When you’re storyboarding your dashboard, determine which KPIs and databases should be represented in the same dashboard. You can’t possibly fit all that information into just one dashboard. It would be too overwhelming. But you can easily connect, but you can easily connect the dashboards through drilldowns and hyperlinks within the individual dashboard if it seems fitting.

Skipping the Testing Phase

Often the biggest dashboard blunders aren’t testing your dashboards enough. So test, test, and then test again. Pinpointing any errors before implementing will eliminate future headaches. Once you’ve tested it, create a comprehensive training plan, and introduce your new dashboard.

Often the biggest dashboard blunders aren’t testing your dashboards enough. Click To Tweet

Dashboards are an incredible reporting tool that takes your data and makes it into colorful, easy to understand information that will keep your business on track. Take your time, research your KPIs, keep it simple, and test.

Want to learn more about dashboards? Check out our blog or test our dashboards for free.

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Carlos Scott Sales Development @iDashboards

Carlos is part of the sales and demand generation team at iDashboards. He’s passionate about finding business solutions for today’s data overload problems.


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