Designing Effective Metrics Management Dashboards
Designers of metrics management dashboards need to incorporate three areas of knowledge and expertise when building dashboards. They must understand the dashboard users’ needs and expectations both for metrics and for the presentation of those metrics; they must understand where and how to get the data for these metrics; and they must apply uniform standards to the design of dashboards and dashboard suites in order to make them ‘intuitive’ for the end-users. This paper outlines dashboard design best practices and design tips, and will help dashboard designers ensure that their projects meet with end-user approval. It concludes with a checklist of design considerations for dashboard usability
Metrics Dashboard Design
Increasing User Adoption of Metrics Dashboards
Users turn to metrics management solutions to find out what is going on with the business in order to make informed, reasoned decisions.
Probably the most common reason dashboards remain under-used is that the dashboard designer did not understand the endusers’ needs
Good metrics management dashboards show key performance indicators (KPIs) in context so that they are meaningful, and present them in a way that allows users to instantly understand the significance of the information. This presentation lets users quickly evaluate choices and make decisions with full confidence that these decisions are supported by facts. Dashboards are neither detailed reports nor exhaustive views of all data. Good metrics management solutions can offer users the option to ‘drill-down’ to as much detail as they require, or even link into reporting systems, but these are only ancillary functions. The primary function of metrics management dashboards is to support—even induce—pro-active decision-making. Know the End Users
Users want dashboards that respond to their business requirements.
There is no substitute for understanding end-users’ needs and getting involved in dashboard development. Even more important than understanding product capabilities is understanding the people who will be using the dashboards, what they need to know to improve the business, and what sort of dashboard organization and displays will work best for them. Use Context to Make Metrics Meaningful
Users need to understand what the metrics mean before they can make decisions. Data is meaningful only in context.
In order to easily understand metrics users must see them in context —their context. In fact, context and presentation are integral to any metric; without them the metric is simply meaningless numbers. Dashboard designers should take time to learn what contextual information users require in order for metrics to be meaningful for them and to facilitate decisions and actions.
Metrics Dashboard Design
Context includes the date and time the metric was updated. In many cases, a metric has value only if the user knows when the data was retrieved.
Contextual information will differ depending on the specific area being managed. For example, dashboard users in finance may need to track actual expenditures against budget targets, while a support desk may need to track the number of trouble tickets exceeding mean resolution times by more than 15 percent. In an environment where a metrics management solution is being used to help improve processes, users may need to monitor trends, compared to performance during another given period. Figure 1: Use displays to show context and progress towards targets.
The much used pie chart effectively shows proportions, but does not tell anything about performance or progress towards targets.
A simple bar chart effectively shows proportions of allocated budgets and monies spent, targets and performance: progress towards targets (dotted lines).
Whatever the case, the dashboard designer should spend time understanding not only the data behind the indicator,...