Monitor business performance
Dashboards for business users represent powerful means of communications nowdays when companies build large amounts of data. Those visually compressed representations of only the most important data are used for tracking current business operations, mainly compared to some goal.
Description and applications
Most common way to implement a dashboard is to place everything on one screen only; that way, user has no need to compare data from different pages at the same time. Furthermore, dashboards show dense business information on small spatial space that communicates unambiguously, simply and rapidly.
When made and used in correct way, dashboards can help in orienting organization or team by focusing everyone’s attention on common goal while at the same time, keeping performance in sight.
Dashboards intended for upper management can be compared to car dashboard; in both cases there is a group of various graphical images which provide us with figures and whose aim is to inform quickly and unambiguously. Observer’s attention is solely focused to important information. Well designed dashboard gathers data from various distinct data sources and represents them consolidated giving a clear view on overall business performance.
While creating dashboards we use all the appropriate tables and graphs.
Through them we show comparison between the categories, trends, distribution, deviations, correlations, etc.
To show the key performance indicators and compare realization with plan and / or with the same period last year, we use bullet graphs and sparkline charts.
Beside technical knowledge, in our component design we built certain rules and best practices because we see dashboards as multidisciplinary – we consult fields such as psychology and spontaneous pattern spotting (or preattentive processing), the theory of visual perception and data visualization, as well as human understanding in general. If these rules were ignored, the dashboard would lose it’s primary purpose: to inform unambiguously and rapidly.
Only appropriate visual design allows users to examine and perceive large amount of information very quickly and use them to see the big picture or to identify any items that deserve attention and further analysis. We believe in user-centered approach (or top-down approach): the needs of users are above data structure. The dashboard should be a complete tool for every end-user in the company, which provides him key information with little or no training at all.