New to Dashboarding? What is it and How to Begin (8 Steps)

By David Zimny, Consultant

December 10, 2022

Blog

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Dashboarding at its core is about displaying the core metrics around a particular subject area, very typically some aspect of a business or organization, in order to measure one’s progress against chosen targets. In this article, find out in more detail what dashboarding is, why you should deploy them, and how to get started.

What is Dashboarding?

Dashboarding is a fundamental means of displaying key business information to measure progress against goals, for any aspect of any organization or business, all in a highly visual manner. Also known as Business Intelligence dashboarding, it allows the user to skip the process of digging through raw data or even curated reports for the answers they need, and instead gain that insight quickly and clearly so they can focus on taking action in time to make a difference.

The most effective dashboards concentrate on critical and actionable info such as key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics like sales and employee turnover, project progression, and/or tracking of trends and outliers, but virtually anything supported by the data can be visualized. There are many reasons to use a dashboarding platform, and depending on the platform, the knowledge required can be minimal.

Why Should I Use Dashboarding?

The goal in any business should be to take the ever-increasing raw data that is being generated, turn that into usable information, and then make that information accessible in time for key decision-makers to act in a timely manner. The organizations that are excelling with analytics and dashboarding are driving efficiency and creating competitive differentiation for themselves by leveraging this existing and often un-leveraged resource.

Here are some core reasons organizations expend resources to pursue dashboards and dashboarding in general:

  • Makes Data Actionable – Using a dashboard, you can identify positive or negative trends, operational issues or lagging KPIs and take action quickly.
  • Saves Time in Understanding – Today, most business intelligence dashboards are web-based and can update automatically as the underlying data changes. With a web-based dashboard, or even better with mobile, once you have connected your data source(s) and built your dashboard content once, it updates automatically based on your schedule preference.
  • Drives Clarity – A well-made dashboard is visual, not a list of facts and numbers. A period-over-period line or bar graph of sales is much easier to follow than 50 rows of sales totals.
  • Creates Agility – Dashboarding platforms offer simple tools that help you visualize and understand trends in your data. Domo dashboards are a popular choice that offer over 200 chart types of chart types to choose from, including core maps as well as unlimited expansion with custom charts. You can also set Alerts to remind you automatically via e-mail, text or push notification when key metrics reach levels you have preset.
  • Highly Secure – Strong web-based dashboard platforms offer customizable data permissions. You can limit the data each of your users see, and safely share new data and insights instead of sending sensitive information via e-mail.
dashboarding
How Do I Start Dashboarding?
  1. Identify what insights would make you more effective: Each dashboard should have one driving focus. Common examples of dashboard focus areas are sales, finance, inventory, project management, digital marketing, marketing/ROI and there are many more. Make a list of your core business measurements and prioritize them.
  2. Outline Requirements: Identify what data would support your key metrics, where it is located and how you want to visualize it.
  3. Choose where to build your dashboard. You may be tempted to begin building a dashboard in Excel or another desktop application, but web-based (and even more important cloud-native) options are virtually always a stronger choice. Cloud-native web dashboards platforms (like Domo and Looker as a couple of the scant options put there) allow for easier access from anywhere, secure sharing and the peace of mind that all users see the most updated version, without sacrificing power or flexibility.
  4. Connect the Data. Modern dashboard platforms are designed to enable scheduled updates to your data directly from the source. Domo has over a thousand prebuilt connectors for the most widely used business systems.
  5. Secure the Data. Implement security options to suit your business needs. A good cloud-native, web-based dashboarding platform will offer customizable options to protect your data and its users.
  6. Start Building. Dashboards complexity can range from relatively simple to highly interactive. Initially, build one or two dashboards to become comfortable with the tools, and allow the users to test and give you feedback. If your business is larger with more complex needs, you may consider working with a professional firm that specializes in implementing your dashboarding platform like Graphable (see Domo consulting for more and also read about how to customize the dashboard background as well to personalize).
  7. Revise. Welcome feedback from users and experiment with different graph types and formats to make your dashboard more specific. Consider more key metrics that haven’t been visualized yet. Customize your dashboard to make it more intuitive. A common way to make dashboards even more interactive and customizable by users is to include variables (see the Domo variables article on this topic for more).
  8. Expand and Iterate. Once your initial dashboards begin to take shape, it’s common for new questions to arise. Now that you have this new knowledge regarding your finance data, what new insight would a marketing dashboard allow you to learn? At Graphable we have found this to be a highly iterative process- as people see their data visualized, it makes them see and understand more and better ways to gain insight from that same data. In Domo for example, many of the capabilities to customize are designed for users to make on their own which often decreases the load on IT significantly.

Conclusion

All businesses have increasing and often significant and untapped value in their data. Dashboarding initiatives around that data can solve that issue by making that value accessible to the business users that are charged with making the business successful. Dashboarding makes an organization’s key info and trends in the data quickly accessible so everyone can worry less about studying data and focus more on taking action.


Graphable delivers insightful graph database (e.g. Neo4j consulting) / machine learning (ml) / natural language processing (nlp) projects as well as graph and Domo consulting for BI/analytics, with measurable impact. We are known for operating ethically, communicating well, and delivering on-time. With hundreds of successful projects across most industries, we thrive in the most challenging data integration and data science contexts, driving analytics success.

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We are known for operating ethically, communicating well, and delivering on-time. With hundreds of successful projects across most industries, we thrive in the most challenging data integration and data science contexts, driving analytics success.
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