Building a better dashboard for your project could help your project team minimise risk, boost performance and provide some visibility into a unclear future.

2020 has been an unprecedented year for many organisations. Proactive and forward-thinking businesses have one common trend, they understand the metrics and KPIs that define their current and probable future performance.

Decisions are made at the executive level based on data presented via a dashboard. One step down in the project world, teams use dashboards and performance data to influence positive outcomes for their project(s) by using similar data sets to mitigate risk.

 

Dashboard Types

Dashboards are commonly used for three key reasons:

  • Analytical – with large data sets for drill down purposes.
  • Strategic – using current data to calculate performance, benchmark and provide trend analysis to support future decision making.
  • Operational – traditionally developed to analyse business process or operations.

The amount of data and the visuals selected are often presented for varying levels of the organisational hierarchy.

 

Consider the Audience

Building a better dashboard starts with knowing your target audience and their requirements. It is the first and most vital step to a successful dashboard implementation because if the end user doesn’t get the value they need from the tool, then the rollout of the dashboard will eventually fail.

Building a set of requirements (who, what, when, where, why, how) will enable a developer to understand the business goals, what makes the decision makers ‘tick’ but also work out what data sets are important in generating the visuals needed.

 

Think about the data

Good dashboards rely on good data and often dashboards are designed around disparate or mutually exclusive data sets. Unique coding is critical to being able to effectively and efficiently ‘join’ data sets together.

Good data is:

  • Structured
  • Granular
  • Accurate
  • Timely
  • Available
  • Complete
  • Reliable

Start by re-assessing your data sets so that your data model is more robust and error free.

 

Less is more

The old philosophy of keeping it simple still applies to dashboard design.

Don’t try to put all of the data on the one page. Selecting the “right” key performance indicators (KPIs) for your project is crucial to working out layouts and the overall look-and-feel.

Your KPIs will help to shape the direction that your dashboard takes as these metrics will display visual representations of relevant insights based on specific areas of the business.

Be consistent in naming, font selection, font sizing, and above all use a colour palette to make the dashboard look crisp.

 

Select relevant KPIs

Without providing context on a dashboard, how will you know whether those numbers are good, bad or normal?

KPI selection also involves understanding how you can compare your current data to historical data. It also enables the dashboard to show benchmark information.

More importantly, if we don’t have benchmarking or comparison data, the project team may not understand or know if action is required to address issues.

The hardest step in dashboard design is to select the appropriate widgets to visualise data.

Consider these primary categories to help navigate through this difficult part of the design process:

  • Comparison – table, bar, line, column, area chart
  • Relationship – scatter plot
  • Distribution – scatter plot with 2 variables, histogram
  • Composition – pie chart, stacked column/bar chart

Find out how GBA Projects can help your project perform.

Contact us.

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