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Dashboards Are Like Snowflakes

Dashboards Are Like Snowflakes

Here at ConnectSMART, we’ve never seen two enterprises with identical dashboard designs – which isn’t a bad thing. Dashboards should be tailored to your organization’s identity, the way your employees work, and even hobbies. For example, we have a few cigar aficionados on our team, which is evident from their dashboards. Some clients like the black background, while others prefer the white background. But all the dashboards share a few things in common that we consider best practices.

1) They incorporate data from more than 1 source.

I’m betting that not all of your data sits in the same location. You’ll only get a holistic view of your organization’s performance if you’re integrating data from various sources. Your dashboards need to support fast, easy integration of all your various data sources.

Best practice BI dashboards pull data from internal and external sources (when necessary) to create entirely new views of performance. These combinations make existing data more useful – and they’re extremely helpful on performance dashboards, even if only for quarter-long tactical analysis.

2) They provide at-a-glance views of performance.

Dashboards are for busy people who can’t dig deep every day to spot issues. Your dashboard might benefit from incorporating stoplight indicators that tell users if data is entering into dangerous territory without having to drill down. In ConnectSMART, thresholds can be set separately for each KPI – meaning you set when the chart shows up green, yellow, and red, giving users a quick visual cue that focuses them on the areas that need attention.

3) They’re easy to use.

What makes a dashboard easy to use? Think about your favorite websites. They probably all have simple navigation that makes it easy to get from one section to another without much thought. Dashboards should operate similarly, meaning they need simple, clear options for filtering and drill-down, both globally (filters for the entire dashboard, i.e. all charts should show me the results YTD) and locally (filters for each chart, i.e. this graph should show me the results from last month, but the rest of the dashboard should show me the results YTD).

In addition, your dashboards should have easy options for export, because it’s likely that not everyone who needs to see the data has access to it or you may want to include the dashboard in a presentation or report.

4) They are attractive.

Let’s be honest – no one wants to use an ugly dashboard. We have all had to use them in the past.  ConnectSMART has made great advances in the past several years, particularly in the look of our dashboards.

Are all of these best practices easy to talk about, but not easy to put into practice? We don’t think so. Today’s dashboard tools allow users to create dashboards with drag-and-drop functionality, meaning no programming is required. They include formulas that simply the complex math and allow data from any source to interact with each other.

Want to learn more about the latest thinking in dashboard design and see examples of dashboards you can emulate? We’ve got two action items for you:

1) View the recording of our most popular webinar, How Leading MSP’s Maximize Revenue, to get practical tips for making your go-to dashboards interact with your data to make it useful to your bottom line.

2) If you are interested in getting help with a custom gadget, call our Professional Services team! Whether you need a single custom gadget, a turnkey dashboard solution, custom reports, or other business intelligence services for your business, we’ve got it.  With a properly configured dashboard, your dispatcher/service coordinators and engineers will have 100% visibility to ALL of their responsibilities.

What are your dashboard best practices?


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