Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

The Secret Sauce of Engaging BI Dashboards


Some pieces of music withstand the test of time because the message, lyrics, and melody work together in just the right way. You go back to some songs again and they become your old standbys – something you can rely on. It may seem strange to draw a parallel between music and dashboards, but think about it: a good corporate dashboard can be timeless too. We have customers who have been using the same dashboard for 5 years – it just continues to work for them. They chose the right metrics and display them in charts that clarify the data, and users find the dashboard engaging and useful even after many years, relying on it daily for information and insight. Your dashboard shouldn’t be a one-hit wonder – a souped-up version of a static report. Let’s review 3 ways to take your old BI dashboard and make it an essential tool for users.

Think about the dashboards at your organization. Are they really just one step up from manually-generated reports, built to replace spreadsheets and briefing books for meetings? They probably provide answers to some of your executive team’s questions, but maybe you’ve noticed that they have some major pitfalls, including a limited display of information and infrequent updates, and offer little ability to take analysis deeper or share insights with co-workers easily.

A corporate dashboard needs to be more than eye-candy. Decision-makers need a dashboard that drives performance by delivering the right information in a timely manner.

Dashboard Delivery
Let’s review that word I emphasized just now – delivering. The whole reason to upgrade your dashboards is so they’ll be more widely used, right? Well times have changed and people aren’t just sitting at their desks all day. We use a phrase at arcplan – we say our product is “BI that does take-out and delivery.” We proactively push information to users however they want to receive it. So think about that as a means to wider adoption – delivering data to users directly, on their schedule. Dashboards that have the ability to be scheduled and emailed to users in a variety of formats are almost guaranteed to be seen (and used). I may not have time to log into the corporate BI system every day, but I certainly check my email whether I’m in the office or not. Having my dashboard delivered to me at 9am every day has ensured that I see it daily. Thinking about how your users will consume your dashboard is key in the design process.

New Information
Getting back to the idea that some dashboards are simply a step up from a static report, how would your users see their dashboard if it actually presented new information?

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