2 items tagged "dashboard"

  • BI dashboards: best practices

    BI dashboards: best practices

    If you want your business intelligence dashboards to succeed, you'll need to make sure you follow these best practices along the way. Here's what to know.

    Business intelligence (BI) dashboards are increasingly used by companies around the world. If you use one or intend to, knowing some business intelligence best practices can help you avoid pitfalls.

    Here are 10 business intelligence best practices to follow as you design a dashboard and choose which information to display.

    1. Identify your reporting requirements

    BI dashboards make it easy to gather statistics and turn them into reports. Before diving into that task, clarify what to include in the review and which departments will read it.

    For example, the accounting department likely needs substantially different metrics than your customer service team. Get confirmation of the necessary details and the intended audience first to save yourself from wasting time on extra work and including irrelevant information.

    2. Choose a dashboard to meet your needs

    There are several kinds of BI dashboards on the market:

    • Strategic: These aggregate crucial details about your organization’s current status and health while highlighting opportunities for expansion.
    • Analytical: Dashboards that show data variables across a set timeframe and help you spot trends.
    • Operational: Choose these dashboards if you want to focus on key performance indicators and real-time operations changes.
    • Tactical: Mid-level managers most commonly use these dashboards, which give deep dives into a company’s processes by showing weekly metrics and trends.

    Find business intelligence dashboard examples based on the category above that most closely matches your needs before investing in a solution. Doing that increases the chances of feeling satisfied with your investment.

    3. Design your dashboard to minimize distractions

    One of the most useful dashboard design best practices to follow involves getting rid of superfluous information. Make your dashboards useful for everyone by following the five-second rule. Pick the dashboard’s content carefully so that anyone looking at it can get the details they need in a few seconds.

    Scrutinize the information and verify that each graphic or text snippet serves a well-defined purpose. If it doesn’t, take it out. Adding too much data to your dashboard could make it more challenging for people to focus on the parts that matter most to their work.

    4.  Call attention to relevant numbers

    Some viewers may appreciate graphic helpers that highlight statistics. For example, one of the Power BI dashboard best practices Microsoft recommends for its product is to use a card visualization for numerical figures.

    If you use a different BI product without that feature, consider other ways to help numbers stand out. For example, you might put them in a bright color or increase the size of the figure compared to the surrounding text.

    5. Restrict dashboard access to authorized parties

    Working with a BI dashboard also means engaging in the appropriate security measures. Some content management systems allow you to only give administrative capabilities to people with the right credentials. You could take the same approach with your BI interface.

    Think about setting role-based privileges based on whether a person requires editing privileges for their work or only needs to look at the content. Adjust or remove an individual’s access as appropriate, such as when they get promotions or leave the company.

    Also, encourage everyone to demonstrate good password hygiene, including using a different password for each service and never sharing credentials.

    6. Arrange your data according to the inverted pyramid model

    News professionals understand the inverted pyramid approach well. It involves mentioning the most important information first in an article and devoting the most overall space to it. The less-crucial details appear near the end of the piece and may only encompass a single paragraph.

    You can follow dashboard design best practices by letting the inverted pyramid model dictate how you show the data. For example, feature the main details inside the largest panes or sections.

    7. Select the right kind of chart

    Charts can be ideal for helping executives deal with the challenge of interpreting data and using it for decision-making. You’ll get the best results when you pick a chart type that aligns with your needs and the type of data presented.

    For example, line charts work well for showing trends over time, while pie charts let you show how single categories relate to an overall value. You might also use a vertical bar graph to help users compare differences side by side. The main thing to remember is that no one chart is the universal ideal.

    8. Include the most important information on a single screen

    If you’ve spent time checking out business intelligence dashboards, it may have become obvious that all the crucial details are immediately presented and don’t require swiping between several screens. Allowing people to see the essential material on one screen is the best approach because it increases clarity and helps you stick to your main points.

    Think about how some of the people who see the content may have packed schedules and might feel eager to get the information they need without wasting time. We discussed earlier how you should cut out unnecessary information to prevent distractions. This is a related point, but it’s a tip that encourages you to think about which data to show first while remembering your audience’s requirements.

    9.  Consider optimizing your dashboard for mobile users

    Web designers know how important it is to design content for mobile phones, especially since many people view it on those devices more often than their computers. One of the related Power BI best practices is to tweak your dashboard for those who look at it on smartphones.

    Doing that involves switching the content from Web View to Phone View in the dashboard upper-right corner. You’ll only see that option as the dashboard’s owner. While in phone view, you can adjust the layout so that it appears differently to phone versus computer users by rearranging tiles or changing their sizes and shapes.

    If you use a different product, determine whether it has a mobile-friendly option.

    10. Display data in the proper context

    As you design your chart, pay attention to how factors like the relative size and color of content on the BI dashboard could lead people to draw certain conclusions, not all of them necessarily correct. Ensure that you use labels and source citations to help people see the data in the right framework and not get the wrong ideas.

    You’ve probably seen at least a few dashboards that looked fantastic at first glance but later realized they did not offer enough context. In that case, you probably came away with some questions and uncertainties. Including reference points for the statistics and charts on a dashboard helps viewers feel confident while digesting the material.

    Tips to guide your efforts

    These business intelligence best practices will help you get the most out of any dashboard you purchase and use. Remember that it’s also valuable to devote sufficient time to training yourself or your colleagues on how to use the tool. Each BI on the market has different features and layouts.

    The more thoroughly you get acquainted with them, the easier it’ll be to get the results you want.

    Author: Kayla Matthews

    Source: Smart Data Collective

  • Starting a BI project in 4 simple steps

    Starting a BI project in 4 simple steps

    What would it mean to you and your enterprise, if you could start getting useful business insights from your data in literally five days or less, using four simple steps?

    As exciting as this seems, it’s actually just what a good business intelligence platform should be able to do for you. While BI projects can be short term or long term, straightforward or sophisticated, they should all bring actionable results as soon as possible. Business moves fast nowadays, and there isn’t enough time for months of preparation, data modeling, IT platform planning, management decisions, and implementation.

    Fortunately, these four clear, do-able steps will allow you to publish your first BI dashboard in five days, keeping up with the pace of your business without needing specialist help or extensive resources.

    STEP 1: Map out your BI project with small, practical milestones (half-a-day)

    Why do certain BI projects fail? Often because they try to bite off more than they can chew. Start off by focusing on one insight of value, and your BI project can already be a success in just days. Afterwards, there will be plenty of opportunities to derive further insights, making sure each additional step brings you a measurable benefit.

    So, let’s begin! Here’s how to do step one:

    • Start with a standard business process you want to understand better or improve
    • Keep data sources few at first, with a just 2-3 reports that hold the answers
    • Get an initial, useful result, before iterating to go deeper or wider into your business processes

    This also means using a business intelligence system that lets you start simply, and then scale to any level of BI that makes sense for your organization.

    Allowing half-a-day for step one, your BI project map will then look like the following steps for the rest of the week (the 4.5 days left)

    • Business planning to define useful questions to answer (step two, below)
    • Setting up your data model to bring your data sources together properly (step three)
    • Designing and publishing a dashboard to display the results (step four)

    Remember that as you progress with your BI projects, your BI tool should let you go beyond just automating any manual business reporting you are doing currently (Excel spreadsheets included). A little business rethinking may show you even more important questions to answer, for which your BI tool will then become even more valuable. That’s when you start reaching beyond the realm of standard reports and into the realm of BI.

    STEP 2: Collect requirements (half-a-day)

    To get your first successful BI project off the ground in five days, requirements should be modest. On the other hand, business, result, and technical requirements should be stated clearly and precisely enough to keep your BI project on track for success:

    • Business requirement: state the question that is to be answered. For example, 'what are the trends in the monthly revenues of the organization?' Or, 'which product lines can use more marketing budget to generate higher profits?'
    • Result requirement: decide how a result from the BI system should be displayed or communicated, so that the business teams involved can understand and act on it as quickly and as easily as possible
    • Technical requirement: what hardware and software will be needed for the BI project? If you can use standard PC hardware, for instance, you can meet technical requirements that much more easily. Sisense, for example, both runs and scales on a standard PC, handling up to terabytes or billions of rows of data with full BI functionality quickly and efficiently, as needed.

    STEP 3: Select and compile your data sources (2 days)

    Business intelligence needs inputs of data to produce outputs of results and business insights. Data can come from many different sources (some BI tools have built-in data connectors that make it super easy use data from different places). Remember, data must be correct to start with. Otherwise, the end results will be flawed. Here’s your to-do list with detailed examples:

    • Select the data sources you want to use to answer your business question (see step two above). You might choose your organization’s sales database, existing Excel spreadsheets with financial data, Google Analytics data on the number and type of visits to your enterprise web site, or some combination of such data sources.
    • Understand the correlation between the data sources you want to use. For example, your sales database and your financial spreadsheets might both list your products: the sales database showing how well they are selling, and the spreadsheets showing how much they cost to make. Using the two data sources, your BI tool could show you how to maximize profit by putting more marketing resources on specific products.
    • Join the data from different sources for one version of the truth. Sisense lets you use simple 'drag and drop' to bring different data sources and tables into the same central, high-performance database, called an ElastiCube. Everybody then uses the same version of the collected data, avoiding arguments and allowing people to focus on the results and conclusions of the data analysis.

    STEP 4: Build and display your first BI dashboard (2 days)

    Remember the result requirement from step two above? In this final step, it’s time to create the displays that help your own users understand the results from the BI tool and the data it has analyzed.

    Sisense gives you numerous options to produce web-based dashboard displays, reports that can be distributed to groups of users, and interactive analytics to let users ask new questions and explore further. Here are some great dashboard templates by industry. Your goals in step four are:

    • Identify your target audience. Seek to understand, before trying to be understood! A business management audience may want more intuitive overviews and indications of trends, compared to a technical audience looking for more detail. So, use a corresponding approach to your dashboard.
    • Design your dashboard. Sisense provides options for graphs, charts, and filters that can also be accessed by dashboard viewers to make the dashboard as useful and as engaging as possible. Dashboards are also accessible using a standard web browser, meaning that your viewers do not have to use any additional plugin or download.
    • Information design. Common sense will play an important role here. Looking to show a trend over time? A line chart might be the simplest and most effective way. Or perhaps you want to show how overall sales of different products compare? A pie chart may be the right choice. If in doubt, remember the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!).

    Actionable results from data using BI in one week

    By following the steps above, business users can start their business intelligence journey simply and effectively. They can also rapidly accomplish data management and analysis tasks that would otherwise have taken months of IT resources.

    Author: Elana Roth

    Source: Sisense

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