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How to build the perfect dashboard?
Before talking about the perfect dashboard, let’s figure out what a dashboard is in general.
Now I will switch to the “nerd” mode and refer to the etymology of the word. It is important, do not skip)
So, the word “dashboard” in English was originally applied to the dashboard of a car. A dashboard is what the driver sees in front of them while driving:
The main principle of a dashboard is that drivers get information in 2-3 seconds!
They drive a car and need to receive and process information about the condition of the car at lightning speed: speed, engine speed, fuel supply, oil temperature, etc.
Since there is a minimum of time for reading the information, only the key parameters of the car should be displayed on the dashboard! It is unlikely that you have seen data on the temperature of the battery or the speed of rotation of each of the four wheels on the dashboard. In modern cars, these data are also calculated, but they are not a priority for the driver. Therefore they are not displayed on the dashboard.
Do you understand what I am hinting at?
A modern entrepreneur is like a driver of a car, moreover a racing car, rushing at great speed, constantly throwing the business into turns, and managing to glance only at the key indicators of the business (KPI) between multiple meetings. If, of course, there is where to look.
And to finalize the analogy of business with motorsport, let’s remember that in addition to the driver, their mechanic participates in the race. That’s a person in the special compartment who constantly monitors the condition of the car. The mechanic has a much more extensive dashboard, but there is also much more time to read the information (in fact, this is their main task during the race).
So, back to the business and its ideal dashboard.
Get 5 signs of an ideal dashboard for business:
- For each dashboard, its target viewer must be defined (here I mean the consumer of information as a viewer). Agree that the CEO’s dashboard and the courier’s dashboard are fundamentally different dashboards! When you start creating a dashboard, first determine who it is for.
- Only those KPIs for which the viewer is responsible must be displayed on the dashboard. The sales manager doesn’t need marketing or accounting metrics. Everyone should be focused on their goals!
- The amount of information on the dashboard should be proportional to the amount of time the viewer can usually devote to studying their KPIs. As practice shows, from 5 seconds for top management to 30 seconds for ordinary employees.
- An ideal option is to display no more than 3 KPIs on the dashboard but add +1 level of description. For example, if you display the total sales for a month, then on the same dashboard, it will be helpful to show the exact figure in the context of sales managers and/or products and/or regions. It allows you to fall one level of analysis down quickly. But a deeper analysis on the dashboard is no longer appropriate, as it takes more time.
- Use simple and straightforward graphics to visualize your data. Bar and pie charts in 2019 look trite but, as before, are perfectly readable and lightning-fast. Non-standard infographics that look impressive, but slow down the reading of information, are not recommended!
And of course, I will share some good examples of dashboards: