Business Tips | Dashboards and Data Viz | Data Strategy | iDashboards Products | Tips & Tricks

Whenever companies come to us looking to visualize their data, we always encounter clients that have similar pain points with their data. Whether it is human reporting errors, inefficient reporting processes, or inaccurate entry, data challenges are ubiquitous in any organization.

On a recent call with a client, they described their process of data gathering from six different locations as ‘trying to herd cats.’ They continued by saying that each of the managers at their different locations also provided their data differently. There was no standard format, no consistent schedule on when the data was made available, and some of the managers struggled with Excel or other systems in place for getting data input. I’ve heard similar stories hundreds, maybe thousands of times.

Avoidable Data Management and Manual Entry Challenges are Costing You

Data management challenges are keeping organizations from having clear insight from their data. Without that clarity, the value that dashboards can bring to an organization goes right down the drain.

For nearly two decades iDashboards has helped customers work through these data challenges. And, continuously there have been new capabilities added to enable better data management. From day one, iDashboards has been able to connect directly to a database for real time access to structured data. The iDashboards Auto Uploader helps to manage Excel files more efficiently and automatically. Alerts were integrated into the product to check the data for anomalies and notify the appropriate party. The Data Hub was developed and introduced to provide ETL capabilities, a powerful new part of the product that allows data transformation abilities. With the numerous additions to iDashboards over the years, iDashboards has evolved into a complete data visualization, data handling platform.

Well, almost.

We hear from customers all the time that they do not have a good way of collecting their data. Herding those cats. They do not have a good method for data entry. It was evident to our development team that what many needed was a way to take control of the entire path of their data – from the data input all the way to the data visualization on the dashboards.

And, that brings us to Version 10.5 of iDashboards, which was released at the beginning of this month. In Version 10.5 we have enhanced the product once again and introduced an ability to provide data entry, with the new Form Builder. Now, a data entry form can be built and exposed in iDashboards, allowing customers to have a consistent data entry method and an easier approach for gathering their data into one place, ready for dashboards.

Data Forms begin with the ability to create a form using a variety of input controls (text, number, data, radio button selectors, etc.) and then place the form onto a dashboard, either standalone or as part of a dashboard that can automatically update as new forms are submitted.

Each form is configured to automatically save data entered into a single database table. This database table can then be used to build charts or further process the data via the Data Hub.

We consider this a huge benefit to our customers, as there are many different use cases for data entry that can be better managed using the Form Builder: Survey Results, Support Ticket Tracking, Timesheet Submission, Work Orders, Sign in Forms, and with today’s current environment, a COVID Employee Self-Certification to Return to Work form.

Data Forms Use Case Example – Timesheet Submission

To illustrate this new capability, I want to walk through a use case of Timesheet Submission. A worker fills out a form, which places the data into a database table automatically and makes it readily available on a dashboard.

When creating a new form there is an option to start with a blank form or automatically create a form from an existing table.

Data-Form-Builder-Create-New-or-From-Existing-Data-Table

As I create a new form I am presented with the Form Builder canvas, where I can drag and drop field types from the left ribbon onto the canvas, define that fields’ values and have my table start to automatically build for me.

Data-Form-Builder-Canvas-Example-Drag-and-Drop-Field-Types

The form field options allow String, Boolean, Number, and Date fields. In addition, fields can be populated with default values or even pull from your data itself, using a dynamic picklist.

Data-Forms-Field-Options-String-Boolean-Number-Date

Once the form is completed and saved, if the choice upfront was to create a new table, the table is automatically created and charts are ready to be built!

If you’re looking for a brush up on your skills for selecting the right chart type to showcase your data, we’re linking our infographic here on How to Choose your Charts. Check it out!

Ultimately, a dashboard based on the data input from the form can be built AND update automatically to show submitted form data on the dashboard in real time.

iDashboards-Form-Builder-New-Data-Forms-Simple-Dashboard-Example

These are exciting times, as iDashboards now has transformative capability from the beginning of your data, at the point of entry, and all the way to the end where it ends up visualized on the dashboard!

If you’re interested to learn more about what the Form Builder can do for your organization, our Online Support and Client Success Team are always available to answer your questions.

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Jerry Stowe Principal Pre-Sales Engineer @iDashboards

For over 25 years, Jerry Stowe has assisted customers using a variety of software technologies. Currently, he thrives in assisting clients and prospects to realize the full potential of their data, utilizing exceptional dashboard development and data visualization techniques. In his spare time, he enjoys long romantic walks to the fridge.

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