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Designing Dashboards: First Decide What You Want!

by The Tip Doctor

August 29, 2011

The following tip is taken from the BusinessObjects Expert article “Interested in Dashboard Design? A Methodical Approach to Creating an Xcelsius Dashboard” by Sandesh Darne, published in May 2011.

The success of any dashboard design depends on understanding what business executives and managers expect from it for measurement and monitoring of business elements. Often, requirements are articulated as follows: “I would like to see a competitive sales comparison dashboard” or “I need to know the demand in the last quarter. What is the quarterly growth in sales? What is the product market share?”

The challenge is to transform these requirements into dashboard functionalities that provide answers in an at-a-glance screen. More elaboration on requirements provides a better description of the dashboard. You can achieve this by:

•    Understanding the executive’s mental model of a dashboard 
•    Carrying out a detailed analysis of current business reporting systems and gaps
•  &n bsp; Studying the manual information analysis process

Carry out the requirements to a level that describes dashboard functionality in terms of necessary business alerts, comparisons of facts, drilldowns of figures based on specific measures, and filters on business element categories. Find out how users would interact with the dashboard.

With these guidelines, you can prepare the dashboard design sheet with a list of all the functionalities, possible visuals involved, and the user interactions that operate those functionalities. By reading the guidelines, executives should get a better picture of the functions of the end product. Figure 1 contains an example dashboard design sheet that lists the functionality of a competitive comparison dashboard.

Figure 1 Sample dashboard description

Sandesh’s complete process for designing dashboards can be found in his original article at BusinessObjects Expert.

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