Five Common Mistakes when Creating Effective Reporting Dashboards

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BI Dashboards are intended to provide an at-a-glance overview of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which reflect the state of business. They need to present relevant data that can be immediately interpreted and actionable, allowing users to make informed decisions. While a dashboard should present data as simply as possible, there are still a set of guidelines to follow and mistakes to avoid. This blog is intended to highlight the most common missteps in creating effective dashboards. For a deeper review of dashboard best practices, please check out a recent blog on Designing Better Reporting Dashboards.

 Here’s a cheat sheet with five key points to keep in mind when building your dashboard:

 1. Complexity.

Don’t overcomplicate the dashboard with too many metrics, components and complex visuals. The information and presentation should be as simple as possible so that it’s clear what it’s telling you. The presentation should not leave any room for interpretation as to what’s happening.

 2. Incorrect metrics.

The selection and summarization of data should be based on the priorities of the business. The metric must indicate something that is actionable and able to be improved, rather than just a summary for information’s sake. When defining a metric, ask yourself if the value indicates some action that can be taken to improve the business. All metrics should be clearly mapped to a business goal.

 3. Building too much at once.

The rollout of the dashboard doesn’t have to be all-encompassing and permanent from the beginning. Each new metric is a benefit on its own and with the right dashboard tool, additional components can be easily added in stages. A periodic evaluation of the relevance of the visualizations and metrics is also important, so your dashboard changes along with the business.

 4. Inappropriate visuals.

Visual components are the best way to present summary data, because they are intuitive to interpret. On the other hand, they must not be distracting or ambiguous. Don’t use pie charts to represent data over time. Don’t use line charts to show proportions between values. Tables shouldn’t be over-formatted and unnecessarily distracting. A good approach would be to start with nothing but a black and white display and add additional formatting and color with a specific intention.

 5. Too much (or too little) interactivity.

Another challenge in giving your users useful and actionable data is understanding the appropriate level of control that they will need for decision-making.  Some users will require a high degree of control over multidimensional data, needing to drill down into details with speed and ease. Others will require a short, to-the-point overview of their data so that they can make quick, informed decisions. Before building anything, you should fully understand all your end users interactivity needs. Don’t be afraid to spend some more time in the planning stages in order to speak with your users – they’ll thank you later.

 If you want to learn more about the techniques that go into building great dashboards, or if you’re looking for an easy-to-use dashboard tool, sign up for our Daily Live Demo.

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