The Benefits (And Challenges) Of Business Dashboards

Business DashboardsBusiness dashboards connect users with critical information and data at-a-glance. Users can pull everything from sales and marketing data to inventory reports to finance, to website analytics into a dashboard. Those dashboards put critical information into one place, displaying it visually, so that users do not have log into multiple systems to get a snapshot of the information they require. Users can also manipulate the data and customize their dashboards so that information is accessible and easy to analyze, right from a desktop or mobile device.

What Should Business Dashboards Do for You?

With the right tools in place, business dashboards have a number of benefits, including:

    1. Visibility
      Business dashboards should be easy to access and read, providing on-demand visibility and insight. There is no need for users to wait for monthly reports to check progress or respond to changing conditions.
    2. Time Savings
      Users spend endless hours of their month logging in to multiple systems to run and format reports, or they must utilize IT personnel to run and format those reports for them. Well-crafted business dashboards show updated results for each report, saving precious time and resources.

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  1. Agility
    If you can’t measure something, you can’t improve it. Well-designed business dashboards give users ongoing performance measurement capabilities, so that they can quickly adjust their approach when circumstances call for change.
  2. The Power of BI in the User’s Hands
    When users have access to insightful and actionable information at-a-glance, they can make decisions and take action quickly. There is no need to request data from developers, wait for the data, receive the report, and then attempt to take action. Reports can be shared quickly between users, allowing the free flow of information between key players.
  3. Performance Checks and Balances
    When employees know that their performance can be monitored in an up-to-date fashion (that is, their employers don’t have to wait months to detect performance issues), they will inherently improve their performance – even if it’s just to “stay of the radar.”
  4. Up to Date Progress Evaluation
    Once you enact a new policy or process, how long does it take to measure the results of that change? With business dashboards in place, leaders can see the effects of their changes in almost real-time, measuring goals against progress.

If Dashboards Are Designed to Make Life Easier, Why are they so Challenging?

Users can only realize the positive impact of business dashboards when they have the right tools in place. First and foremost, dashboards must measure something meaningful. This means selecting the right metrics – not just broad metrics such as “net income,” but drilled-down, specific metrics that influence that broader category.

Many times, dashboards are set up without the user in mind. They are either extremely complicated to set up, requiring assistance from a developer or some other member of the IT team, or a reporting tool comes with pre-loaded dashboards that don’t measure metrics that are relevant for every user.

Compatibility and interfacing are also common challenges of business dashboards. If a dashboard cannot connect with critical business systems, the information they provide will be incorrect, outdated, or otherwise limited in its usefulness. To bridge the gap users will have to manually input data, thereby defeating the purpose of the dashboard.

An ideal business dashboard will securely and automatically connect users to the information they need, either in real time or as close to real-time as possible. Some refresh daily, while others refresh weekly, or at some other useful and actionable interval. Additionally, business dashboards should be available to a user whether they are at their desk, or working remotely.

A well-designed, user-friendly dashboard tool allows users to not only access critical information but to act quickly on that information.

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