How Dashboard Reporting Tools Can Steer Your Business

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Dashboard reporting tools are a form of data visualization solutions that help to analyse data. They present data in an easily understandable format with endless customization options. Dashboards also allow users to share their analysis with others. Given these points, dashboards are one of the most popular BI tools for organisations.

These tools extract data from key datasets into purpose-built and designed dashboards, helping improve business decisions. They often use cloud and web-based platforms, which automatically update data to reflect the most relevant information. This is a great improvement on traditional Excel-based spreadsheets, which are manually updated and are therefore error-prone. Through using dashboards, stakeholders can review the most important data to draw accurate conclusions and act accordingly.

One of the biggest positives of the dashboard reporting method is that they provide a quick overview of key data. Whether an end-user is looking for KPIs or basic background data, they can get a keen understanding of what is happening within an organization.

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Common features in BI dashboard tools

Some dashboards are designed by the members of a BI team, whereas others are created by other users of the software. For example, BDI offers a Budgeting & Forecasting package which includes valuable financial and KPI style dashboard reports.

Dashboards vary in appearance depending on the software provider, but there are often certain common features in the tools. These include:

Dashboard Tools vs Reports

Dashboard tools are different from reports in several ways. However, the two tools can be used in tandem for a more comprehensive view of trends and insights. There are also often cases where the decision to use a report or a dashboard comes down to personal preference, as the two formats can be interchangeable.

For instance, one of the biggest differences between the two is that dashboards update almost in real-time using cloud-based technology. They present the most recent data in a clear visual format, whereas reports need to be run and interpreted before this same information can be displayed.

Other examples of differences between reports and dashboards include:

DashboardsReports
Summary-focused – provides quick and easy-to-understand information for an overview.Data-focused – more intense and detailed information provides an in-depth understanding.
Visual – data is displayed in more visual formats such as charts and diagrams, making it easier to understand quickly.Tabular – information is shown in various tables and requires interpreting before trends are seen.
Analytical metrics and KPIs are the main focus of dashboards.Reports focus on the data behind the analytical metrics, providing information on why a situation has occurred.
Brief overview – because of their visual focus, dashboards provide good overviews of data to get a quick idea of how an organisation is performing.In-depth analysis – the depth of information available in reports means they are more suited to detailed interpretation and require more understanding.

Pros and Cons of Dashboard Reporting Tools

A dashboard reporting tool may be the perfect solution for your organisation’s data needs. Before purchasing a dashboard package, it’s important to consider the benefits and potential drawbacks of installing a dashboard for your organisation.

Benefits

  • Decisions can be better informed through easy access to key data.

    The visual format aids decision-makers in getting a clear overview of a situation, therefore allowing them to use data intelligently.

  • More accessible information for all users.

    For example, displaying data using a visual dashboard helps make number-intensive data and business analytics metrics easier to understand for users who are not skilled analysts.

  • Help identify trends

    Graphs on a dashboard, being visual, help users identify business trends more easily. This helps an organisation to act and capitalise on opportunities and address problems.

  • Support more collaborative data analysis and decision-making

    The increased information sharing capabilities of dashboards enables wider access to data, therefore helping make the decision-making process more collaborative.

  • Multiple data visualisation possibilities

    Through the customisable elements of dashboard reporting tools, there are various options for displaying data. This makes data more understandable and useful to users.

Drawbacks

  • Over-enthusiastic dashboard designs can be counter-intuitive.

    Overly flashy or cluttered dashboards which implement too many widgets can make dashboards hard to use by obscuring information, for instance.

  • Too much visual data preventing easy raw data access.

    Raw data is necessary alongside data visualisations to provide important contextualisation. Moreover, including too much visual data without the accompanying raw data can lead to poorly informed decisions.

  • Not providing context to KPIs

    Similarly to including too much visual data, not including important contextualising data alongside visualised KPI information can lead to a misunderstanding of organisation performance. This is especially true in the case of non-technical end-users, who need easy access to information and may not otherwise know where to find it.

  • Misrepresentation of data in dashboards

    Sometimes important or relevant data is missed out when creating dashboards and data visualisations, meaning the information is misconstrued.

Tips for using dashboard tools successfully

Dashboards must be designed well to avoid the potential drawbacks listed above. Fortunately, BDI is here to make it simple. Here are some tips for successful dashboard creation.

Design your dashboard for the target audience.

Keep your end-users in mind when choosing which widgets to include in your dashboard. For example, include only relevant information and avoid the temptation to visualise as much data as possible. Dashboard reporting tools and business intelligence solutions are here to make it easier to use data intelligently, so make sure this data is accessible for all your team.

Provide context for your data

Help your stakeholders to understand trends by adding associated context to your graphs. For example, what milestone dates are associated with the data? This information can help provide that extra dimension to your data and inform more intelligent decision making.

Provide decision-influencing data

Drive actionable insights through the data you display in dashboards. For example, providing important data that influences KPIs will allow key stakeholders and users to see a snapshot of a situation and make quick, positive decisions. This allows your organisation to have a more agile response to any issues that arise.

Avoid clutter

Make sure your data is easy to find and understand by removing any unnecessary information. Specifically, including only relevant information for your team helps make faster decisions by avoiding distractions and potential confusion.

BDI offer a range of dashboard tools

Do you think using a dashboard-reporting tool will enhance the way your organization approaches data? Our team of business experts would welcome the opportunity to consult your needs and find the best approach for your organization.

With this purpose in mind, we keep an open mind during the consultation process and consider each organisation’s individual needs. BDI also involves your key stakeholders in the process to ensure our solutions can meet all your organisation’s goals. Shortly after, our team will recommend the most appropriate software solution and provide support with implementation and training for end-users. We have a variety of software options and are confident we can find the right solutions for your data needs.

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