Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

10 Keys to BI Dashboard Success: Part I


Dashboards have been getting a lot of flack lately, especially in blog posts about why they're pathetic or why you should hate them. I get it – dashboards have been a staple of business intelligence for decades and the concept hasn't changed that much, so it must be time to disparage them. They're no longer a hot topic. But that's precisely why we need to keep the conversation around BI dashboards going. They're not going away, but they can always be improved.

A well-designed dashboard with the right metrics will serve you for years. arcplan has customers who have been using the same dashboard for 5+ years. Why? Because it simply works (this also happens to be our company's tagline!). I'm thinking specifically of one company whose dashboard isn't flashy at all – in fact, it's pretty boring looking – but it contains essential, revenue-driving metrics and sends alerts to trigger action based on specific thresholds.

Is that all it takes to create a lasting, functional BI dashboard? Not quite. Here's a list of the top 10 keys to BI dashboard success, derived from arcplan's nearly 20 years helping customers around the world design custom dashboards.

Your BI dashboards should be:

1) Personalized. Tailor your dashboard to the role of the user, designing it around metrics specific to the individual. You can see an example of this in the arcplan free trial. It gives you the option of logging into the application as a director of finance or director of sales and each individual dashboard displays metrics that matter to the particular user role.

2) Customized. Accommodate your users no matter where they are located. If you are designing dashboards to be used in the US & Europe, be sure that European users can view them with their particular language and currency settings (for example, displaying dollars as Euros and using periods instead of commas). Luckily with arcplan, those adjustments are a click away.

3) Self-sufficient. Dashboards should guide business users to relevant insight without help from IT. Dashboards should be intuitive and provide simple access to business data using menu filters and drill-down functions. Also, users should have access to FAQs, help files, how-to videos, and an online user community so they can feel condent when using their dashboard.

4) Search-enabled. How many dashboards (and corresponding metrics) is your organization supporting? Whether you are managing only 5 dashboards or 5,000 metrics, users must be able to find the data they need. Making your dashboards searchable makes them more useful.

5) Interactive. Dashboards are not a static experience. Users should be able to apply filters and adjust values on a chart, for example, to plan for various scenarios. They should also be able to write-back to the data source if permitted. Drill-down capabilities are particularly useful because users can delve into charts to get further details with just one click. Interactive dashboards keep users engaged and focused.

Stay tuned for my next post, where I'll share 5 more tips for creating successful BI dashboards. And in the meantime, sign up for my on-demand webinar: Effective BI Dashboard & Scorecard Design.

Dwight deVera

About Dwight deVera

I'm Senior VP responsible for Solutions Delivery at arcplan in North America. I also present on a lot of arcplan webinars, so you can sign up to hear me - the events listing on our website is located here: You can also follow me on Twitter: @dwightdevera.
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  1. Great post about tips for creating successful BI dashboard. It’s very helpful for create BI dashboard.

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