Some considerations when looking at dashboards

April 29, 2010
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The following is a list of some considerations related to dashboard evaluations. It provides an initial set of considerations.

Dashboard Purpose

By starting with the business pain, decision makers can limit their dashboard choice to one that meets their specific business requirements.  For example, some companies require operational dashboards to help them manage their call centers, whereas other businesses use dashboards to make sure that overall performance is on track and to flag potential discrepancies in set metrics.

Current IT/BI Environment

What currently exists in-house may affect the organization’s dashboard choice.  Some dashboards integrate easily with many data sources, while others base their platforms on Microsoft integration.  This means that some solutions may not be available to organizations depending upon their current IT environment.  In addition, companies with a mature BI infrastructure may want to continue to expand their current platform because it falls within their comfort zone and current framework, as opposed to evaluating the best alternatives.

Data Sources

Aside from technical environments that may become inhibitors

The following is a list of some considerations related to dashboard evaluations. It provides an initial set of considerations.

Dashboard Purpose

By starting with the business pain, decision makers can limit their dashboard choice to one that meets their specific business requirements.  For example, some companies require operational dashboards to help them manage their call centers, whereas other businesses use dashboards to make sure that overall performance is on track and to flag potential discrepancies in set metrics.

Current IT/BI Environment

What currently exists in-house may affect the organization’s dashboard choice.  Some dashboards integrate easily with many data sources, while others base their platforms on Microsoft integration.  This means that some solutions may not be available to organizations depending upon their current IT environment.  In addition, companies with a mature BI infrastructure may want to continue to expand their current platform because it falls within their comfort zone and current framework, as opposed to evaluating the best alternatives.

Data Sources

Aside from technical environments that may become inhibitors to selection choice, it is important to note that not all dashboards are created equally.  Some enable decision makers to combine disparate data sources within one chart, while others may offer the ability to compare separate data sources on the same dashboard, but not within the same chart, graph, or chart.  Consequently, organizations should look at what types of data they are using and whether data from multiple sources have to be combined to gain the desired insights.

Timeliness

When the information is required may change the overall solution choice.  For instance, some dashboards stream data from operational systems regularly to help managers look at information in near real-time, whereas other dashboards grab data from the data warehouse and represents aggregates of information to identify sales over time, or to monitor key performance indicators.

End User Interface

The last consideration is the type of people using the dashboard.  Depending on who will be accessing the data, what interactivity requirements they have, and their level of technical savvy, the solution choice will differ.  Luckily, solutions exist for all types of end users.  Some businesses want their employees to develop their own analytics and general dashboards, whereas others require tightly controlled access to information.  Either way, depending on what information people access, how comfortable they are interacting with technology, and changing needs over time, the type of solution will be affected by who is accessing the solution.

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