What is a Dashboard?
A dashboard is a tool used for information management and business intelligence. Much like the dashboard of a car, data dashboards organize, store, and display important information from multiple data sources into one, easy-to-access place. Using data visualization, dashboards uniquely communicate metrics visually to help users understand complex relationships in their data. In a data dashboard, it’s easier to draw parallels between different but related metrics, identify trends, and head off potential challenges hidden in an organization’s data. With the help of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile technology, dashboards are also used to convey relevant information to audiences at any time and in any place. The best dashboards are customized, secured, and shared with their intended end-users.
What is a Business Dashboard?
In a way, virtually any dashboard used by a business falls into this category. The term “business dashboard” specifically refers to reporting tools that fulfil these purposes:
- Tracking important business metrics
- Monitoring business intelligence initiatives
- Reporting data to stakeholders
An effective business dashboard should focus on top-level data related to the overall success of the business. In most cases, every metric in the dashboard should support the business’ most important metric: the bottom line. The goal of a business dashboard is to not only communicate data about the business’ success, though; it facilitates understanding ad alignment between departments, holds each team accountable for their goals and progress, and helps users identify areas that need immediate action.
What is an Executive Dashboard?
An executive dashboard gathers and holds information that top-level stakeholders need to run a company, business, or organization. Executive dashboards function much like business dashboards, except the information in them should cater specifically to the needs and expectations of executives. Executives only have so much bandwidth to gather and understand information, which means they need access to the information they need, when they need it. Some key benefits include:
An overview of how departments are meeting their goals
Insight regarding specific employee performance and goals
Access to high-level goals and metrics related to the overall success of the organization
Cohesive reports and drilldowns in one place, accessible on any device
What is a KPI Dashboard?
KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are the heart and soul of your organization’s performance. They are the stepping stones that will guide your business to long-term success, so tracking and comparing them in one place is vital. KPIs should be measurable, tangible metrics that let each employee, team, and department understand how their performance influences the success of the organization – and your KPI dashboard is where these metrics are stored. A successful KPI dashboard should:
- Set tangible goals and targets for each department
- Facilitate accountability within each department
- Provide real-time updates on goals and progress
What is a Project Dashboard?
Much like KPI dashboards, project dashboards track tangible goals; however, the “goal” of a project dashboard isn’t about hitting a sales quota or increasing marketing revenue by a certain margin. Instead, project dashboards track specific metrics related to the progress and complete of a project. This means, generally speaking, project dashboards involve more scheduling metrics than most dashboards:
- When does the project need to be completed?
- Does each team member have the bandwidth to complete his or her portion of the project?
- What is the project budget? Is the project on pace to accommodate it?
These are the questions most – if not all – project managers ask themselves on a daily basis. By having these metrics in one place, project managers can avoid unnecessary time logging into multiple data sources and comparing information to get a simple progress report. With the help of a project management dashboard, they can simply open the dashboard and see exactly where the project stands, make accommodations or changes as necessary, and provide an accurate assessment of when the project will be complete.