LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS
Visualize Key Data Through Dashboards
Steve Schaffer, operations manager
Data tells a story. It can reveal how well a business is performing and highlight aspects that need immediate attention. You can visualize a dynamic snapshot of a number of key data points through dashboards, summarizing the critical information business leaders require to make the most effective decisions. Here are six steps to help you get started with creating informative dashboards.
1. Keep it Simple
The reason for creating a dashboard is to be able to visualize key data points easily. Achieving this can be difficult if the dashboard contains an excessive number of data points. To prevent information overload, it is best to select 3-5 key performance indicators (KPIs) that a dashboard user will require on any one page.
Keep in mind, the KPIs a viewer is interested in will vary depending on the department or staff member requesting the dashboard. The main takeaway is to create a dashboard that is focused and concise rather than generic.
2. Strategize with an Outline
Developing a valuable dashboard will require the creator to design a strategy. A useful dashboard will allow viewers to extract meaningful data about the objective at hand while remaining within the constraints of a limited landscape. Creating an outline will involve determining not only which KPIs are most useful but also their placement. Questions to consider are:
- What are the most important data points?
- How much detail will be required of them?
- On which page will a KPI be the most useful?
- Which KPIs must be placed nearby each other to synergize their use?
When necessary, use slicers and filtering to organize and display the data, maximizing clarity and meaningfulness.
3. Select the Right Visual
It is important to select visuals that best highlight the primary purpose of a set of data. Consider each objective you want to fulfill, then evaluate the different types of visuals available. For example, in some cases, a pie chart may be more insightful than a bar graph. If you are unsure which format is suitable for your data, test a few options to see which presents the best layout.
4. Take Advantage of Color
There is a reason why the most useful visual presentations of data involve the use of multiple colors. Using color to highlight critical information naturally draws the eye to desired points on a page. The key is to be consistent when using color cues (especially over multiple visualizations) without using so much color as to overwhelm the viewer.
5. Accuracy is Everything
Summarizing data allows viewers to get a concise look without getting bogged down in details that tend to obscure key takeaways. However, removing details that may point out discrepancies within the data increases the potential for displaying inaccurate data points.
A good rule to remember is that 80% of data analytics projects should focus on collecting and modeling data to ensure accuracy. The other 20% should be spent on building the visual portion of the dashboard. To ensure accuracy remains at the forefront of every dashboard project, it is best to always prioritize accuracy and simplicity rather than filling a dashboard with impressive-looking charts where accuracy may be questionable.
6. Dynamic Feedback and Automation
One of the great benefits of setting up a dashboard is configuring it to provide dynamic feedback to interested parties rather than simply presenting a static snapshot of data. Imagine a data tool that, unlike a static report, is actively working behind the scenes to keep business leaders and decision-makers updated on critical changes.
Dashboards can also be set up to send automatic notifications to key viewers when granular data changes, which can affect KPIs. They can also be configured to notify interested parties when thresholds are breached, or data violates certain pre-configured rules. By providing dynamic summarized updates, decision-makers are much more likely to enact a timely and appropriate response.
Dashboards can help companies better visualize their performance. With a few simple steps, you can begin sharing meaningful insights. If you would like to learn more about dashboards or data analytics, click here. You can also contact us if you have any questions. For more information on related topics, check out our blog.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
STEVE SCHAFFER + OPERATIONS MANAGER
Steve Schaffer is an Operations Manager at Lutz with over eight years of relevant experience. He is responsible for assisting the Chief Operating Officer in leading internal operations, gathering and analyzing firm data, as well as consulting with management on internal business plans.
AREAS OF FOCUS
- Internal Operations
- Data Analysis
- Financial Reporting
- Process and Technology Efficiency Consulting
- Internal Business Plans
- BA in History, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA
- MBA, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
- NextGen Lincoln, Board Member
- Lincoln Leadership Fellow 2020-21
- Nebraska Make-A-Wish, Young Leaders Council
- Lincoln Young Professionals Group, Member
- Ronald McDonald House, Volunteer
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