The One-Size-Fits-All Business Dashboard Fits Nobody: How to Avoid this Mistake

The One-Size-Fits-All Business Dashboard Fits Nobody: How to Avoid this Mistake

By Mychelle Mollot, CMO Klipfolio

The use of business dashboards for companies who want greater visibility and to monitor the health of their organizations is growing more popular and necessary today. But how should dashboards be used in order to really support a company’s growth and success?

Before a company can get the most out of a business dashboard, it must be designed according to the company’s goals and objectives. One of the most common mistakes that companies make is trying to build a one-size-fits-all dashboard which ends up being a one-size-fits-nobody. This approach tends to be a result of teams beginning their dashboard projects by asking data-centric questions like:

  1. What data is available?
  2. What data is important enough to put in the dashboard?
  3. What are the best ways to visualize each type of data?

This line of thinking typically yields a dashboard that’s designed around the data, and not around how that data might be used, or who might be using it. These types of dashboards usually end up being abandoned within a few weeks. When the actual dashboard-building process begins, the builders usually find themselves trying to put a very large amount of information onto what now seems like a very small display. Consequently, the only way to get all that information onto a single dashboard is to add a lot of filters, selectors, tabs, drill-down links and other user controls. This results in only small portions of the data being displayed on the screen at any one time.

So what dashboard design steps should you take to avoid this?

The solution to these issues is to create one dashboard for each role within the target audience. With a one-dashboard-per-role approach, the need for filters, tabs, selectors, extensive drill-downs is minimized, and it becomes much easier to get all of the relevant information onto a single at-a-glance display. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Figure out who your dashboards need to service

For example, in a marketing department, this might include the following:

  • CMO
  • Digital marketer
  • Social media marketer
  • Content marketer

Each role has very different KPIs and information needs, and each should get its own dashboard.

Step 2: Start with the more individual contributor and functional roles

It is very tempting to start with the most senior roles (CEO, CMO, CIO, etc.), first but it’s almost always faster and easier to start with the junior ones. This is because the dashboards for more senior people often contain aggregated versions of the data found on the dashboards for people in more functional roles.

There is an exception to the one-dashboard-per-role rule. If you’re creating a dashboard for a common area, such as a lobby or conference room, and its purpose is to provide anyone who happens to glance at it some interesting stats, then a different approach must be taken. Such a dashboard is basically eye candy. Employees at their desks will still need role-based dashboard software of their own to help them make rapid, high-quality, data-driven decisions.

Klipfolio’s team has written extensively on common dashboard design mistakes.

Mychelle MollotMychelle Mollot is the Chief Marketing Officer at Klipfolio. In this role she is responsible for both marketing and product management. An experienced CMO and software executive with more than 20 years of experience, Mollot has deep experience leading marketing, product marketing, product, market strategy, and go-to-market initiatives and teams. Previously Mollot was the VP Worldwide Marketing (CMO), IBM WebSphere and Mobile solutions; VP Marketing (CMO) for IBM Business Analytics, and the leader for IBM’s Smarter Analytics initiative (part of IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative). Mollot is passionate about building high performing teams and driving exceptional marketing and business results. Follow her on Twitter.

Timothy King
Follow Tim

Timothy King

Editor, Data and Analytics at Solutions Review
Timothy leads Solutions Review's Business Intelligence, Data Integration and Data Management areas of focus. He is recognized as one of the top authories in Big Data, and the number-one authority in enterprise middleware. Timothy has also been named one of the world's top-75 most influential business journalists by Richtopia.
Timothy King
Follow Tim