To succeed in today’s data driven world of business, you need to be able to make decisions quickly and effectively. iDashboards’ reports and alerts allow you to automate time-consuming tasks and mitigate the chance of human error, so you can deliver data to the right people at the right time.
You can create reports to share high-level metrics with those who do not have access to dashboards, or don’t have the time to take a deep dive into the data. You can customize your reports to the audience you are sharing them with, whether you are looking to share an operational dashboard report prior to an internal leadership meeting, a financial report with board members, or anything in between.
Alerts, on the other hand, can be used to provide time-sensitive notifications so quick action can be taken to remedy any potential problems. Each dashboard user can create their own alerts based on the data points they care most about, and you can also create alerts for different groups of people or teams. For example, you may want to set up alerts that will display on an LCD screen on the plant floor to alert all plant workers of any orders behind schedule, downed machinery, or backups on lines.
This blog post takes a closer look at reports and alerts so you can learn how to take advantage of these features to automate your data monitoring in order to conserve time, money, and human resources in your own organization.
Live Dashboard Reports
Live dashboards are great for interacting with your data, drilling down to see the numbers driving your high-level metrics, and identifying key trends. However, sometimes you want to view your data and share it with others in a high-level format.
Reports are static documents that contain the data from your dashboard in text and table format. They can include some visuals, but are primarily used to present specific data points and build a narrative. Reports can be useful, but time consuming to create. With iDashboards, you have the ability to use your live dashboards to easily and efficiently create high-quality reports.
On-Demand vs. Scheduled Reports
The most common type of report is an on-demand report, where an iDashboards user logs in to their account and generates the report by clicking in their dashboard designer or drilldowns. Every time you click on “view this dashboard as a report” and the server generates a PDF report that the browser opens in a new tab, that’s an on-demand report.
Scheduled reports allow you to automate that process by defining a time interval that you want your report to be created and sent out to a list of iDashboards users.
When setting up a scheduled report, you will be asked to configure the following settings:
- Properties: Provide a name, description, and action for the report. Determine whether you’d like the recipients to have access to a formatted report PDF, a zip file of the report data, or both.
- Schedule: Select the months, days, hours, and minutes that you’d like the report to run. (Tip: You can “shift + click,” “ctrl + click,” or “click and drag” to select multiple options on the schedule builder).
- Users: Determine whether you’d like to create a private report that will only be sent to you, select specific groups, or provide all groups with access to that dashboard’s category to receive the report.
After the report has been created, you can also customize what the email that contains the report will look like by using the new report email templates.
Whether your report is on-demand or scheduled, you have the option to add a customizable cover page. While the cover page can be tailored to fit your needs, we recommend that most users take advantage of the optional content block for adding custom text, graphics, and more. This content block allows you to add your company’s logo, a title, and even macros that can be set up to auto-populate the date, number of pages in the report, etc.
You can also add a screenshot of the dashboard at the time that the report was generated to your cover page and link it to the actual dashboard for other iDashboards users to view the live data. The headers and footers of the other pages of your report can be customized as well. All reports include a chart data option where you can choose which charts are included or excluded from the report. When you have selected to include a chart, you have the ability to edit how the data renders in tabular format.
Real-Time Chart Alerts
Real-time alerts will generate a message and send it to a specified recipient through email or text message when a certain pre-defined threshold is met. These alerts allow you to constantly monitor the data of a chart without needing to have the dashboard in front of you at all times. Alerts are there to provide peace of mind to dashboard users, knowing that they will be notified of any potential problems or metrics in need of attention when they are detected by the alerts system.
The types of alerts that you set up will vary based on the dashboard and your charts, but it could be anything from daily revenue decreasing by a certain amount to overpacing on a budget for a project. The most effective alerts are on actionable metrics that can be improved or remedied once recognized.
You can categorize the types of alerts you are going to make by assigning each alert a different severity level. These are the levels and corresponding colors that we offer as a default setting, but you can edit the names and colors to suit your preferences:
- Critical: Red
- Warning: Yellow
- Informational: Blue
- Excellent: Green
Not all alerts need to be negative. You can set up “excellent” alerts to notify you when you’ve met or surpassed a specific target or goal.
Alerts get configured to charts, not dashboards. When creating a chart alert, you will be asked to configure the following settings:
- Properties: Provide a name, description, and message to display. Select the severity of the alert from the drop down (critical, warning, informational, or excellent) and the action (send an email, send a text message, or temporarily disable this alert) for when the alert is triggered.
- Schedule: Select the months, days, hours, and minutes that you’d like the server to check for the alert condition. (Tip: You can “shift + click,” “ctrl + click,” or “click and drag” to select multiple options on the schedule builder).
- Reactivation: Once the condition has been met and you’ve received a notification, the reactivation setting allows you to set a timeframe for how soon the checking should resume after the alert fires. If it is a problem that takes a few days to resolve, you might not want the alert to reactivate immediately.
- Users: Determine whether you’d like to create a private report that will only be sent to you, select specific groups, or provide all groups with access to that dashboard’s category to receive the report. Private alerts can be scheduled to check as frequently as every hour, while group alerts can run every minute.
It’s important to consider the parameters and timing that will be most effective for your alerts. You don’t want to unnecessarily alarm people if no significant trend has been established, and you should mitigate the chances of alert fatigue. Too many alerts can undermine their credibility and make the alerts more distracting than beneficial – the opposite of what they are designed to accomplish.
Viewing Your Alerts
In addition to receiving alert notifications via email or SMS, you can also view your alerts in iDashboards. When you log in, there is a bell at the top of the screen that you can click on to open up the alerts home screen. The alerts page is a central area where you can find everything out about the alerts that have been triggered. The last five alerts will be listed and the rest of your alerts will be grouped by severity. You can search for triggered alerts, view by severity, or view by chronological order.
When you click on an alert, the screen will show you a snapshot of the chart at the time when the alert was triggered. You can also toggle over to the other tab and easily compare the snapshot to the live chart.
Underneath the chart, there’s a menu button where you can view the chart data, export the chart data to a CSV file download, or take a peek at the chart data diagnostics to see how the chart was built.
How Reports & Alerts Work Together
Reports and alerts are great complements for one another and are important features for any great dashboarding tool. Reports provide a broad, high-level overview of your dashboard’s data, while alerts continuously monitor your system for potential problems.
With iDashboards, reports and alerts can be automated to save time and ensure that the right groups of people are being presented with the right information at the right time. Determine which groups will receive scheduled reports and which groups need access to alerts, so everyone has access to the level of data that they need in order to do their jobs effectively.
To learn more about the capabilities and features of iDashboards, contact us today.