Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

10 Keys to BI Dashboard Success: Part II


In my last post, I gave you 5 tips for taking your dashboards from "standard" to "world-class." Today, I present 5 more tips that will help your dashboards become truly useful, essential daily viewing material.

Your BI dashboards should be:

6) Diverse. Incorporating data from your various in-house sources and from the cloud enhances your dashboard. Combining data to produce mashups – like retail locations with financials over Google Maps – can make your dashboard indispensable.

7) Dynamic. Static dashboards rely on historical data, neglect your organization's present performance and set you up for failure, warns Forrester Research. Successful dashboards are dynamic and reflect the real-time changes of your business' performance. They also offer ad-hoc capability so users can manipulate variables for further analysis and drill-down functionality so users can find root causes. See what I mean by downloading arcplan's free trial. It features an ad-hoc tab integrated into the dashboard application.

Click to enlarge

8) Attractive. Users appreciate and are more likely to adopt a dashboard that has style and substance. What makes a dashboard attractive? I find that a great color scheme goes a long way, whether that's your corporate colors or simply complementary colors (blue and orange, for example). Animated charts add a nice effect, especially when the users will benefit from seeing the chart change gradually. And of course, proper layout is key, making the data on the dashboard easier to read and understand. The charts should flow in a logical order and should be laid out so the user doesn't have to scroll. If scrolling would be required, break your dashboard up with tabs so everything has its proper space on the screen (see image).

9) Designed to deliver. Do users have to go to their dashboard to get information or can you deliver it to them proactively? Setting up dashboard delivery via email may seem like you are catering to people's laziness, but it may ensure that the data is viewed – more so than if you force users to go into your BI system daily.

10) Accessible. Dashboards should be accessible from any device so users can view their data anywhere, anytime. Mobile dashboards are easy to deploy if your BI system supports web apps, which can be developed once and deployed anywhere – on any PC, smartphone, or tablets.

The bottom line is that dashboards should be analytical tools, not just pretty pictures. The ultimate measure of dashboard success is adoption. When users come to see their dashboards as indispensable, you know you've done well as a dashboard designer.

Be sure to view my on-demand webinar – Effective BI Dashboard & Scorecard Design – where I discuss how to go beyond basic BI app design to make truly excellent, interactive dashboards and scorecards that facilitate decision-making.

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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