Types of Business Dashboards

As we covered in the previous article, a dashboard is a software application that monitors important aspects of business, such as KPIs, analytics and business metrics. Dashboards summarize and present data in a way that makes information easy to grasp and utilize.

However, not all dashboards are equal.

There are three types of business dashboards that will be the most helpful to your business: operational, strategic and analytical. Before adopting management dashboard software into your business operation, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the different types of dashboards that are out there.

More often than not, businesses will utilize a combination of dashboards to produce the insights and solutions that they’re looking for.

1. Operational Dashboard

Operational dashboards track the performance of operational activities. These activities are the day-to-day tasks that are necessary to keep your business running. An operational dashboard is useful for telling you what is happening right now in real-time.

Operational dashboards are commonly used by sales teams and customer service departments because they report valuable data as it unfolds. Compared to strategic and analytical dashboards, the data presented by an operational dashboard updates far more frequently. In this regard, operational dashboards are meant to be viewed numerous times throughout the day.

Some examples of operational dashboards include:

  • Social media dashboards that show the amount of Twitter retweets, Facebook likes, the amount of followers and shares, etc.
  • Production dashboards that track and display the amount of products that have been created, defects that have been observed, and products that have been shipped.
  • Help desk or solution dashboards that display the total number of tickets received per hour, tickets being resolved or reopened, and average time it takes to resolve a problem.

2. Strategic Data Dashboard

Strategic dashboards manage higher-level activities and key performance indicators (KPIs). As the name implies, they display valuable insights related to the overall performance of an organization and the opportunities available to a business.

Strategic dashboards are designed to include information that’s relevant to an executive team. For example, the year-over-year sales or overall customer satisfaction over a long stretch of time. This means strategic dashboards build reports using a variety of metrics, and often require more analysis to properly understand.

Strategic dashboards help keep teams focused on the outcome of each project, rather than just the execution. They can help motivate teams by showing how each person contributes to the overall business strategy. Strategic dashboards can reveal opportunities to improve collaboration between teams and departments, as well as any issues that need to be resolved.

Let’s look at some examples of strategic dashboards based on the businesses or departments that might take advantage of one.

  • An HR department might utilize a strategic dashboard to gleam insights concerning its employees. Employee retention rate is crucial to building a successful business, and can be adjusted and improved based on employee metrics.\
  • A manufacturing department could utilize a strategic dashboard to observe product return rates, then investigate trends as they develop. Using the reported data, the department could then lower or increase its rate of productivity.

3. Analytical Dashboard

Analytical dashboards enable businesses to take a microscopic look at their data in order to reveal useful patterns and trends. The data utilized and displayed by an analytical dashboard needs to be accurate and up-to-date, and typically requires more training to use properly than an operational dashboard.

Whereas an operational dashboard reports data as it unfolds in real-time, an analytics dashboard provides insights related to historical data, thereby enabling a business to establish long term targets and goals.

For example, a company’s operational dashboard may show that 90% of the company’s customer invoices are being paid on time, while 10% percent are late. An analytical dashboard would allow the company to dig into the 10% of bills being paid late and identify any specific patterns or factors influencing the late payments.

Determining the right data dashboard for your needs

The key to figuring out which data dashboard you need is to determine the purpose of your dashboard (i.e. what problem does it solve?) and the audience your dashboard is intended for.

For example, operational dashboards cater to those handling day-to-day business activities, strategic dashboards cater to executive teams and board members, and analytical dashboards cater to your data and business analysts.

Next up: Does My Business Need a Dashboard?

You know that data is important, but at what point should a business invest in dashboard and reporting tools? In this article, we examine different scenarios in which having a data dashboard becomes crucial to running a successful business.

By the end, you’ll know whether your company needs a business dashboard or not.

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