A Guide to Business Intelligence Dashboards
Reading time 9 minutes
In our modern world, businesses are constantly generating data in a variety of ways. Such data sources include on-premises databases, cloud-based business services, social media, and more. Indeed, successful businesses are data-driven and take advantage of this large amount of data they generate. This enables them to make well-informed and sensible business decisions. And this is where a business intelligence dashboard comes in.
Using a business intelligence dashboard, business leaders can go over insights generated and then analyze data gathered from different sources instead of going over a plethora of individual reports. This enables them to understand how customers are reacting to a product. They can also use this information to gauge customer satisfaction, monitor sales revenue, and track other key performance indicators (KPIs).
In this post, we’ll delve into what a business intelligence dashboard is, why you need one, and the best practices you should follow when building one.
Cut through the noise of software delivery and break silos with powerful dashboards and reports.
What Are Business Intelligence Dashboards?
A business intelligence dashboard is a visualization tool that consolidates data generated by a business and presents insights that are useful for decision-making. These insights could come in the form of correlations, patterns, or changes over a period of time.
The idea behind these dashboards is to present data in a way that’s easy to interpret by anyone and understand at a glance. It’s critical to communicate insights in a very simple way. Basically, this puts data in perspective so that no matter the skill level of the viewer, they can easily grasp and make sense of the message being passed along.
Qualities of a Good Dashboard
There are a few qualities you should look for in a business intelligence dashboard. A good business intelligence dashboard should
- be easy to understand,
- communicate information quickly,
- tell a story,
- be interactive,
- have a simple design, and
- continue to change.
You’ll see why these qualities are important in the next sections. First, let’s see what a business intelligence dashboard can offer you.
Why Do You Need a Business Intelligence Dashboard?
Business intelligence dashboards are useful for an abundance of reasons. We’ll discuss a few of them here.
Easily Communicate Business Insights
One major reason you would want to create a business intelligence dashboard is the ease with which they communicate business insights. It’s unquestionably easier to interpret percentages presented visually in a pie chart than to present percentages presented in a simple table. We can easily derive the insights or ideas being communicated at a glance through visualization.
Make Smarter Business Decisions
Furthermore, the best business decisions are backed up by facts and figures. It becomes easier to make these decisions as businesses go through changes and improvements over time. But it’s even easier to tell if investments are paying off when they are presented properly.
These insights, when observed and discussed, can help business leaders understand what changes should be made, what new strategies should be implemented, what department is most productive, or what tools should be discarded or made available.
KPIs may vary from company to company. It’s important to have a benchmark in mind for each of these KPIs to ascertain when progress is being made and point out indicators of growth within the company.
That is to say, including these set targets in your dashboard gives your audience an illustrative means to understand and ascertain whether the company is achieving its goals.
Determine Company Performance and Employee Success
Dashboards are helpful when monitoring employee performance and assessing the company’s overall performance at various points in time. These could be monthly, quarterly, or yearly evaluations. Altogether, these metrics help you understand which departments are most productive, if they are meeting their targets, or if you should adjust those targets. With this information, leaders can ask the right questions, know if employees are putting in the work to improve the overall efficiency of the production processes, and know where to invest more resources.
Enable Anyone to Get Business Intelligence Insights
Business intelligence dashboards are easy to use. Companies are always changing, innovating, and in that way constantly generating new data. Because of this, dashboarding is an iterative process. To spare your business intelligence analysts and other users the stress of creating new visualizations from scratch, consider investing in a tool that provides automation, like Plutora.
Monitor Trends and Changes Over Time in Your Business
Business intelligence dashboards are useful for spotting and monitoring patterns and trends. In our rapidly evolving world, it’s important to stay abreast of these trends and be ready to adopt new strategies. When tracking overall company performance, check company growth, the nature of the market, how customers are reacting to your product, and churn rate.
Improve Sales and Marketing Strategies
A business intelligence dashboard enables you to spot sales and marketing trends through data, consequently helping with decision-making. Once you know about these trends, you’ll be able to encourage new ideas on how to improve existing processes or to learn from practices that worked well in the past.
Business Intelligence Dashboard Best Practices
Given these points, you now understand how beneficial business intelligence dashboards are.
Next, we’ll be discussing best practices to follow when building your business intelligence dashboard.
Identify Which Ideas You Need to Convey
Before beginning to build a dashboard, you should have an idea of what type of information you want your viewers to take a look at. Viewers should be able to interpret these ideas at a glance. What insights are you trying to pass along? It’s important to take note of these and consider the type of data you’re working with. That way, you can identify how to present them in a way that is both interactive and engaging while taking note of correlations and trends.
Know the Right Dashboard to Use
Once you know what insights you want to share, you need to figure out what dashboard is appropriate for the type of data you’re trying to use.
For example, if you’re working with release management data, you might use a release management KPI dashboard. Whereas if you’re working with value stream data, you might opt for a value stream flow metrics dashboard.
Release Management KPI Dashboard
Using a release management KPI dashboard offers you the benefit of monitoring patterns in your releases over time. This enables you to stand out in the DevOps world as you continuously improve your releases and track changes and other metrics related to your releases easily, thereby easing your decision-making processes.
Value Stream Flow Metrics Dashboard
A value stream metrics flow dashboard will enable you to deliver more value to your customers as you monitor your value streams and also have a better understanding of how to improve value delivery, plan, and make better investment decisions.
This dashboard brings together data from insights and analysis, portfolio and backing, continuous integration, continuous testing, and continuous delivery into one space. It also analyzes how changes in all these are affecting your business and what important moves you should make going forward.
Depending on your needs, you may need a different type of dashboard. Plutora provides more than 15 dashboards with customizable options that make it easy to know what dashboard you should use.
Pick the Right Visualization Tool
While it’s important to use the right visualizations, there are also metrics and dimensions to consider.
The visualizations we use are dependent on the type of data available. We have visualizations to show comparisons, relationships, compositions, and distributions.
For comparisons, we usually make use of bar charts, line charts, column charts, or area charts. In a case where we want to show relationships, we can make use of scatter plots. To display composition, we can make use of pie charts, donut charts, treemaps, or stacked bar/column charts. And for distributions, we can make use of histograms or box plots.
Choosing the right visualization is essential to conveying a story with your data.
Remember That Storytelling Is Key
Storytelling is an important part of dashboarding, as this keeps your viewers engaged enough to understand the insights you’re sharing. A good story backed by the right visuals goes a long way. Viewers typically read from the top left of your page to the bottom right. The points you’re trying to communicate through your charts should flow through this pattern.
And the best storytellers are the ones who understand their audience, which brings us to the next point.
Understand Your Audience
When planning your insights, you need to read the room. Who you’re presenting to should determine the nature of your graphs. Someone who isn’t that knowledgeable about visualizations will certainly have a tough time understanding what you’re presenting if you use complex charts and graphs. Know your audience and use visualizations you feel they can easily comprehend.
Update Your Dashboards Regularly
Dashboarding is an iterative process. With data constantly being generated and trends constantly changing, it’s important to review and update dashboards. This is another process that has been taken care of by Plutora, which seamlessly integrates into your workflows and gives you real-time insights from your data.
Tips for Working With Business Intelligence Dashboards
In addition to the best practices outlined above, I want to share a few tips you can keep in mind when working with business intelligence dashboards:
- Avoid too much information. Don’t try to crowd too many visualizations on one page. Select the necessary visualizations for your dashboard.
- Don’t use too many colors. Using too many colors makes the visualizations distracting. It’s important to use one color scheme. In a case where you are differentiating departments, for example, it might make sense to use green for visualizations for marketing-related data or red for sales data.
- Remove nonessential components or features from your visualizations. For example, these could be in the form of unnecessary labels or gridlines.
- In a case where there are decimals or large figures, you can consider rounding these numbers.
- Make use of very clear labels.
Unlock Your Potential With a Business Intelligence Dashboard
Business intelligence dashboards are a pleasant way to display your company data and communicate insights for decision-making. Following these guidelines and tips will help you create a dashboard your target audience can easily understand and understand the message you’re trying to pass along.
Plutora makes this easy for you by providing customizable dashboards depending on what you need. They also give you the option to customize your dashboards. These dashboards work easily with existing tools and integrate with workflows.
To learn more about dashboards, you can also check out this post.