Thursday 21 April 2011

Better BI Dashboards

In CapricornVentis, we've been delivering great business discovery solutions in QlikView for several years now.  QlikView really helps you build great user interfaces that help people interrogate their data in new ways that they have never thought of before.

Before QlikView, much of my "Dashboard" design work would have been in SalesLogix CRM where we plugged various chart controls into the CRM data to display information such as Sales Pipeline, Performance, etc.  Similar things can be achieved with Oracle CRM On Demand Analytics.

No matter what system you use - BI, CRM, Database, you probably have access to some wonderful tools that allow you to present data to users in lots of different ways.

"What do you want to see on your dashboard", says the chart designer.  "Everything", says the customer.  "OK", says the designer.

Stop!  "Everything" is the wrong answer when it comes to dashboard design.

Think of your car dashboard.  It doesn't tell you everything that is happening in your car.  It does tell you everything that you need to know, right now, to drive your car.

Think about it.  Many car dashboards don't include a clock.  A clock is a "nice to have" on a dashboard - it isn't critical to the running of the vehicle.

A "pure" car dashboard probably needs to have only 3 things - a speedometer, a fuel guage and an oil temperature guage.  Someone might argue that a tachometer is useful because it lets me know if I am over-revving the engine and also lets me know when is the best time to change gear.  We could have the argument but lets just add it in.  So, 4 things.  Everything else is "nice to have" and you don't need it.

There are other things that I need to know about to run my car.  I need to know that my oil levels are good.  I need to know that my brake fluid is in between min and max.  These are things that I should check every week or so - but I don't need to know about them right now as I drive this car.

It is the same with the business dashboard.

What do you need to know, right now, to run your business?

Stephen Redmond is CTO of CapricornVentis a QlikView Elite Partner

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