Why Your Business NEEDS a Performance Dashboard (Updated 2020)
I originally wrote this blog in December 2019 to help explain to businesses the huge benefits of tracking and visualising business performance data. Little did I know that COVID-19 and the uncertainty of 2020 was only a few months away. With these unexpected events, businesses have been forced to transform digitally faster than ever before, making the contents of this blog more relevant than ever.
The flow of digital information has increased and data has become the most valuable currency in business. It could be said that the secret of business success lies in extracting meaningful insights from this data.
With so much data available within each and every business, it’s important to visualise the most important points. With the help of data science and visualisation tools, performance dashboards help different user groups to visualise relevant and real-time key performance indicators (KPIs).
In this blog I’m going to summarise exactly why your business needs a performance dashboard and the considerations for an efficient and highly functional data science dashboard in 2020.
Dashboards = better decisions
The first key selling point of a business performance dashboard is the effectiveness as a decision support tool. Dashboards give you direct access to your key performance indicators across the business at all times. Decision makers can easily identify business areas for improvement, or key trends in performance on any given day. With this accurate information, your decision makers can be empowered to make correct, educated decisions.
See your business perform in real-time
Dashboards pull together information from different relevant data sources into one aggregated location. Generally, a data warehouse is used to standardise the data in a single format before pushing this information into your performance dashboard. The beauty of technology in 2020 is that this can now all be done in real-time, meaning that you can get a complete view of your business performance data that is accurate almost to the second.
Periodic inflow of data can be a viable option if your business operates in a relatively static market or if you are limited on budget and resources.
Reduce reporting efforts
Business dashboards, especially those which rely on real-time data, reduce the need for formal reporting. The expected outcomes of the report are visible from the dashboard itself, therefore reducing the need to allocate resources for ongoing report building.
Reporting is normally done at a scheduled time e.g. at the end of the month. A real-time dashboard can be viewed at any time, allowing your business to identify problems and opportunities earlier and more frequently. This early insight can really give your business a competitive edge.
The difference maker for all departments
Operational activities are normally the most dynamic aspect of business. They stand to gain a lot from a performance dashboard. For instance, an operation manager in a factory can identify inefficiencies in the production process. Similarly, an operations manager in the service industry can highlight underperforming employees and take the necessary corrective action.
Sales is a department that needs to be on its toes at all times. Business performance dashboards ensures that there are no surprises for the sales team. Your sales team can see if they are going to hit sales targets, if there are any predicted deficiencies, and can adopt a different approach early to save the situation!
Similar to sales, Marketing needs to be proactive and act according to the situation. A dashboard may provide insight regarding campaign performance and user engagement. If certain channels are found to be more effective, your team can adapt and shift the focus towards these platforms. Check out the awesome Google Analytics dashboard example below that would be perfect for a digital marketing team.
data studio dashboard example" width="600" height="297" class="leftAlone ss-htmleditorfield-file image" title="Google Analytics data studio dashboard example">
Upper management is responsible for making the key decisions and ensuring that the business is functioning smoothly. With added visibility over the performance of different departments, executive decisions can be made and strategies can be altered with confidence. It’s fair to assume that the businesses that were quickest to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic would have been the businesses with efficient data reporting and dashboard systems.
The Recipe for Cooking Up the Perfect Business Dashboard
Identify needs of the user
The intended user is one of the most important considerations when designing a business performance dashboard. Not all information is meaningful for everyone. In all likelihood, what one user may consider as a valuable insight, the same information may be deemed meaningless by a different user. That is why it is highly important to understand the needs of the user. In our dashboarding projects, we generally find there are a number of user groups with important metrics for each, so we create sub-dashboards allowing each user group to get the insights they want, when they want.
Select the right style of visualisation
There are vast options of data visualisation available at our disposal. From pie charts to histograms, every type has its own way of conveying the information. The choice of visualisation style should be motivated by understandability and faithful representation of the underlying figures.
Choose the right KPIs
Even within relevant information, there are certain aspects that hold greater significance over the rest. It is very easy to go overboard and fill your dashboard with all the possible relevant KPIs. This may suppress the important takeaways. That is why we recommend to only include around 5-6 relevant KPIs in a particular dashboard.
Incorporate feedback and continuous maintenance
A business dashboard needs perpetual improvement and refinement. Get your team to give feedback on the platform as they use it day-to-day. We also recommend tracking usage through analytics to see what user groups are using the platform the most. Areas of improvement can be identified and rectified. It could be a redundancy within the dashboard or emergence of new business requirements, such scenarios demand that dashboard is maintained accordingly.
At Internetrix, we believe that dashboards are a must for every business who’d like to improve their efficiency and performance. Having accurate, immediate insights into your business will never be a bad thing.
Not sure where to start?
If you need help planning or delivering a dashboard solution for your business, Internetrix can help. Our team of data science experts are constantly building innovative business solutions. Regardless of what data you are capturing, we can help to understand and add value to your business. Get in touch to book a free consultation with our team.