Building and Maintaining Dashboards for Effective Data Delivery

A final step in any CPM implementation is planning how progress will be reported and insights gathered.

One of the most effective methods of delivering insights is a dashboard. Yet dashboards are often left as afterthoughts or fail to deliver. Here are some considerations that will help increase the effectiveness of dashboards as a data delivery tool in your CPM solution. 

Know the Audience

Dashboards are a method of communication, specifically communicating data in a way that is clear and facilitates decision making. As with any type of communication, it is vital to consider the audience and tailor the message to that audience. There is no such thing as a single dashboard that works for everyone, they must be reflective of the audience to be effective. A good dashboard design starts and ends with the perspective of the audience.

It is also important to consider how the audience will be consuming the information. A production manager on the floor may have a very different method of consuming the information compared to a CEO. The mobile experience is often very different from using a computer.

As the audiences need change the dashboard should change with them to adapt or it will fall out of use. 

Keep Context in Mind

A KPI or metric on its own means very little, context is what gives the numbers meaning. Does the number meet a goal? How does it compare to similar metrics? 

Being able to provide clear contextual information is where dashboards will shine compared to more traditional reporting. By highlighting the positive or negative changes, drawing the eye to exceptional metrics a user can save valuable time that would otherwise be spent hunting for insights. Lean into these strengths to ensure users can get the most out of this data delivery method.

Dashboards should be answering a question, ideally one related to the business driver. To keep audience engagement, keep all visuals within the context of answering that question. Each one should expand on or help explain what is happing. For example, if the driver is revenue, the question might be “Why did the revenue change this month?”. Visuals and metrics should show the change and expand on factors influencing this change.  

At the same time context can be a delicate balancing act. Context should provide maximum information to allow the audience to understand the significance, but there is such a thing as too much context. Where the audience may be overwhelmed by too much information and not know which is important. Part of knowing the audience is understanding the context that will be meaningful to them and allow them to extract the all-important insights.

Gather Feedback

Often feedback must be actively gathered. No complaints from users is not always a good sign, it could mean that no one is using the dashboard at all! Asking stakeholders of a dashboard about their experience or observing how they use the dashboard can be invaluable to make engaging dashboards that last. 

Needs change over time so feedback should be gathered regularly to ensure dashboards continue to meet the goals of the CPM solution.

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