BI_Feb27_CHumans are generally visual creatures. We need to see something to believe it, or be able to digest and use it. For most companies wanting to gauge their performance and success, they need to analyze existing data. The problem is, data by itself is useless. It only becomes useful once it's collected and analyzed and presented in a way we can understand. For many businesses this is done through the use of dashboards.

A dashboard is an easy to read and comprehend representation of data that indicates the current status of a company. Most dashboards look at a company's Key Performance Indicators (KPI), and display information graphically, and more often than not in real-time. This study of performance is often referred to as analytics, and companies can use KPIs, and the dashboards that represent them, to predict, describe and even change performance.

Dashboards have become an integral part of any analytics process, and can really help a business. However, they need to be implemented properly if a business is to benefit. Here's five tips that can help you launch useful dashboards.

1. Focus on the important Dashboards allow you to track almost any form of data. This doesn't mean you should, however. In fact, it's a good idea to step back and identify the most important, or most integral processes of your business. You could start with two or three of these that you can clearly track from beginning to end.

2. Do your tech due diligence The number of programs and full solutions that offer small businesses dashboards are plentiful. You should think about what exactly you want to track and your overall goals before you talk to a vendor.

With the information and metrics identified, you should look for a solution that allows you to track these to the level you want. If you're only being offered once a week views, for example, and you need updates once a day, you're better off continuing your search.

Beyond this, you should be careful to look at the options each dashboard has, and the information it follows. You don't want to be tracking information you don't need, as this could throw off the effectiveness of the solution.

3. One solution won't fit all It's important to bear in mind that different departments or roles will want to track different information. You should include the different team wants, along with their representatives, when looking at solutions, so you can get a better picture as to what you need.

4. Benchmarks Once you have set your goals or objectives and before you implement your new dashboard, it is a good idea to track any related information. This should give you a solid idea from which you can compare changes once the dashboard is implemented.

This pre-system tracking doesn't have to be long, maybe three to six months - enough time to give you a solid grasp of what you want to look at. After implementation, track the same data for six months and look again. Any changes will become the new benchmark which will allow you to launch new solutions, or gauge effectiveness of the data you are collecting.

5. Back up your data As with any tech system, all dashboard software will have the occasional bug or glitch. It simply cannot be avoided. Developers and vendors know this and many have backup solutions to ensure data loss is minimized. It is a good idea to consult with them to ensure their backup meets your needs, or look for one who can work with existing technology to ensure data won't be lost.

Tracking data and information that is critical to a business's operations can help you gain not only a clear picture of just how well your company is doing, but also highlight any need for changes or improvements. If you would like to find the right dashboards for your business, please contact us, we may have a solution that will drive your success.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.