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Creating Effective Business Dashboards

January 11, 2024

Sony Hans

At Levio we use and design Dashboards to display data in an accessible and informative way. Stories are very effective in creating connections among people and ideas. They inspire us, teach us lessons, and give us instructions. All these things are important to a business trying to keep a competitive edge in a fast-paced environment.

Tell your story using Business Dashboards. But what story should be told and to whom? To answer these questions, we will first look further into what is a Dashboard.

What is a Dashboard?

A dashboard is an at-a-glance visual story presentation of business data. It can be used to track KPIs, metrics, current and historical performances, and other key data points from multiple sources, that are relevant to a business all in a single place. The data displayed can then be used to help make decisions in the best interest of the company.

The Benefits of a Dashboard

The story told through these dashboards can provide an overall view on how the business is doing, what is happening and why it is happening. As a business, you can increase your performance and profits, find out where you can save time, or catch issues before they start to get out of hand. The benefits can be great and have a big impact on a company.

Therefore, how the story is told becomes very important. Data displayed on the dashboard should be relevant and easy to decipher. It should connect and flow to easily convey the idea of the story.

It's very easy to design a bad dashboard. One that provides a lot of data but no real information. A successful dashboard provides relevant information, highlights actions that need to be taken, and helps to guide the decision-making process.  So, choose to tell the most important stories only. Do not crowd the dashboard with nice to have details.

Let's look at the different types of stories that can be told.

Tell your story successfully with Four Types of Dashboards

There are four types of dashboards; strategic, tactical, operational, and analytical.

It is important to choose the right type of dashboard. This depends on what story you are trying to present, what questions you are trying to answer, what decisions you need to make and what information you need in order to make those decisions. Let's go over some business dashboard examples:


Tell the Strategic Story - Strategic Dashboards

A strategic dashboard highlights a company's strategic goal and how the current business status aligns with that goal. Strategic dashboards are generally used by executives and can be quite complex in nature. Usually defined over a set time frame, they can provide insight into performance and the status of KPI targets. The strategic dashboard should not only show graphs (data), but should translate those graphs into words:

  • what is on the graph and why
  • the impact of this Data
  • the next steps.

This dashboard will provide executives with a high-level snapshot of how the company is performing overall.

Actionable item after viewing the strategic dashboard: Executives should be able to decide on a course of action depending on strategic issues flagged on the dashboard.

Let's Analyze This - Analytical Dashboards

Think of an analytical dashboard as a big interactive report. Analytical Dashboards are a data analyst's amusement park. They contain:

  • large volumes of historical data and trends
  • predictive analytics - all the information an analyst needs to predict future targets
  • impacts of using data that has already been analyzed.

Although data displayed on the dashboard is at a high level, a user can drill-down into the data to get further information.

Actionable item after viewing the analytical dashboard: The decision makers should be able to create goals and targets based on the insight they get on the dashboard.

Go Tactical - Tactical Dashboards

The tactical dashboard is a combination of strategic and analytical dashboards. Company strategy and goals are kept in mind; however, the goal and how individual tasks are impacting the company are analyzed in greater detail. 

Tactical Dashboards are generally used by Managers. The tactical dashboard can also help managers support their team by monitoring the processes that are put in place. The greatest benefit of a tactical dashboard:

  • the ability to drill down to the history of why a problem occurred
  • have the information/data available to help make a decision about moving forward.

Actionable item after viewing the tactical dashboard: Users should get clarity on the process they should be following and have the added bonus of being able to drill down into the data behind the process flow and decision making.

Are You Operational? - Operational Dashboards

Operational dashboards provide real time data as things are happening. An organization does not need to wait on an end of month or end of quarter report to see what the impact is. With real-time data at their fingertips, an organization can act on changes quickly, make adjustments and then see the impact of those changes in real-time as well. Although the operational dashboard can be used across the entire organization, it is most useful for the employees doing the day to day operations of the company or mid-level managers.

Actionable item after viewing the operational dashboard: Users should be able to proactively make decisions based on real time data.

Tell Your Story Through Dashboards

There is always a story to tell, and by telling that story you are allowing for ideas that can help your company evolve. Hearing the entire story can help to build a strong foundation for success and we have been working with several partners to help build that foundation and allow a company to evolve.