Business intelligence dashboards (BI dashboards) are a technological approach to analysing and presenting information visually in a practical and actionable way. BI dashboard design combines charts and graphs on a single screen to give readers a clear picture of the business data they are assessing. Understanding how to use business intelligence tools correctly is essential to ensuring a consistent level of sustainable growth and ongoing business success.
Business intelligence dashboards
An information management tool, BI dashboards use data visualisation technology to display the key performance indicators (KPIs) businesses use to assess various aspects of performance while generating actionable insights.
A BI dashboard can have many different features because of its customisable interfaces and a level of interactivity. Data is sourced in real-time from multiple areas providing a simplified visualisation of otherwise complex raw data, with readers having an at-a-glance overview of current KPIs.
A good dashboard design displays data in a way that is easy to understand. The dashboard components provide different views of business insights which allow users to drill down to more detailed information. Dashboard interfaces can be used for different business functions including:
A strategic, big-picture dashboard typically designed for executives who are not focussed on specific marketing aspects such as clicks or impressions. This dashboard collects key financial health indicators from marketing activities and displays financial metrics to provide senior management and investors with performance results to help them determine future marketing spend.
A sales dashboard is designed with a focus on helping you to hit sales targets and foster consistent growth. This dashboard can deliver sales metrics including costs, revenue, profits and incremental sales.
Working with dynamic sales KPIs, this dashboard makes your business economically efficient by providing clear, logical visualisations of critical inventory stock and sales data. Sales managers can extract useful insight while strengthening inefficiencies and capitalising on strengths.
Effective BI dashboard templates serve up a wealth of manufacturing metrics to help improve processes and eliminate inefficiencies. Manufacturing production dashboards break down several manufacturing processes into digestible segments.
Invaluable insights into production volumes, downtime and costs offer all the necessary ingredients for creating a seamless manufacturing analytics process. Displaying KPIs to help keep production on track and to save on costs while significantly increasing productivity.
Supply chain dashboard
Supply chain dashboards are great reporting tools to track and manage the many moving parts of supply chain management. Tracking inventory stock levels, logistics functions and warehouse operations, improving supply chain efficiency with KPIs, inventory control, logistics and warehouse operations in a single display or interface.
Benefits of BI dashboards
A major advantage of BI dashboards is that you can draw on specific data without the need to work through entire reports. Visualisations make data easily accessible and more interesting; they are interactive and live reports can be embedded into any web page, reducing the time required sending reports back and forth via email.
BI dashboards organise data cohesively using visual representations and tools, producing an array of graphs, charts, and other graphics to enable the user to easily interpret data before transforming it into actionable insights that will benefit the business in many ways.
Dynamic dashboards help identify and analyse positive trends while isolating and modifying negative ones. The centralised and portable nature of BI dashboards provides a level of freedom and flexibility that translates into greater productivity and enhanced business intelligence.
Connect the dashboard to your inventory management software to provide insightful comparisons and analytics, making it easy to compare year-to-date sales numbers and inventory control counts against corresponding periods in previous years. You can then analyse areas such as profit margins, stock on hand, customer and sales performance.
BI dashboard best practices
Best practice refers to the methods and techniques created and recommended by business intelligence experts and data scientists for achieving maximum value from your BI dashboards and reports.
Pinpoint the dashboard design tool that is right for you
Understand each type to ensure you are making an informed decision. Do you require a strategic dashboard to aggregate KPIs and indicators of business health to help managers identify expansion and growth opportunities? Perhaps an analytical dashboard engineered to consider a range of different measurables and provide detailed data analyses for the purpose of aligning goals and performance is better suited to your needs. Alternatively, you may require an operational dashboard that focuses on monitoring real-time operations and the functionality of various KPIs.
Identify your reporting requirements
What is the purpose of the report and who is its audience? Are they internal stakeholders working on a specific marketing campaign, existing partners or potential investors? Once the why and who has been defined, you will have a better idea of what specific aspects of data is relevant to them, their needs and what best meets their expectations and technical skills.
Use your KPIs effectively
Use your KPIs to tell a compelling narrative that will capture the audience’s attention and break down information in an inspiring and digestible way. This approach will result in greater stakeholder engagement and increased success across the board.
Develop a concise and effective design
You need to communicate information effectively. Look at elements such as contrast, connection, white space, proximity and similarity. Proximity dictates how elements tend to be grouped based on their location while similarity dictates how likely comparable elements are grouped together from the visual perspective of the audience, similar colours, shapes or fonts. Well-ordered dashboards are engineered for visual success.
Provide context and currency
If your dashboard is monitoring marketing effectiveness of a product and fails to include a measured timeframe then the total sales data point is unclear and useless. Selected data metrics must also be up to date to reflect current trends and challenges.
Consumer values are continually evolving in today’s digital world and data has never been more readily accessible. Business intelligence dashboards inform decision-making, lead to greater opportunities and technological improvements relating to your business, markets, customers and competitors.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.