In this age of technology, everything has gone digital….from the measuring tapes to the thermostat in your home.

But despite this trend, some legacy business systems have failed to keep pace, relying on outdated PDF, Excel, CSV and other reporting mechanisms to display what is often complicated and interrelated information.

Enter the digital dashboard, the new (and improved) interface your business can leverage to aggregate, visualize and analyze data from an array of sources including but not limited to:

  • Hosted files
  • Web services and platforms
  • Databases
  • And more!

These digital dashboards provide your team a way to monitor performance and KPIs in real (or near real) time, displaying critical information necessary to make the BEST decision possible given the information available at any given point in time.

These dashboards can be used to display:

  • Historical trends
  • Real time insights
  • Cross-channel interactions
  • And more…

The Tool Makes the Man – or in this case, the business

In construction it is often said that “the tool makes the man”, which is another way of saying the right tool for the right job can make any individual more competent.

The same can be said for business.

Digital dashboards are information management tools. And in an era of industry and manufacturing where information drives virtually every department, can you afford to not have the data necessary to operate at peak efficiency?

Digital Dashboards can track:

  • Departmental or process metrics
  • Key data points relevant to your systems and operations
  • Customized KPIs
  • And more…

All of which allows you and your organization to sift swiftly though an array of complex data sets, turning them into actionable insights, simple visualizations and easy to interpret interfaces that provide you insight into performance at a moment’s glance.

How do Digital Dashboards Work?

No matter what role you have in your organization, you have someone to answer to. Even as CEO you answer to your board (or at the very least your customers…broadly speaking).

And the person you answer to likely has questions such as:

  • How is your department performing?
  • What are your current bottlenecks?
  • What areas can we optimize performance/efficiency?
  • Which initiatives are producing the most value?
  • Where can we cut the budget?
  • What’s our churn rate look like for new customers acquired through channel XYZ?
  • And on, and on, and on…

Normally, you’d have to go off of broad sweeping trends, historical data or even your gut feeling on something…but no longer.

Digital dashboards can help you create compelling, accurate and up to date visualizations of the data needed to answer those questions (and more) with confidence.

Impressive Aesthetics & Visualization

If you’ve ever been tasked with presenting departmental data to your boss or even an audience of other employees, colleagues or peers, you know that the process can be mind-bendingly painful, time-consuming and frustrating.

Hours are often wasted waiting for data to “pull” and compile, followed by even more hours of copying, pasting and formatting.

Even then the end product is often a dull, boring, poorly compiled representation of the metrics and KPI’s you worked hard to put together.

The result? A poorly understood overview of the data, reduced retention of information, and an overall lackluster response.

Fact is, we’re visual creatures…and our minds tend to perk up when we’re presented with EASY to interpret data that doesn’t burn our eyeballs out.

Where to Start – the questions that need answering

Effective dashboards are built from a solid foundation of data, aggregating, compiling, organizing and analyzing this information into meaningful, concise, and actionable visualizations.

But how these dashboards come together is going to be largely based on the individual characteristics, operations, needs and KPIs specific to your department, industry or vertical.

The best place to start is with a question…

What Business Questions do you Need to Answer?

These questions may be broad in scope, encompassing multiple metrics and KPI’s to evaluate the overall performance of a specific project, process, or department, or they may be laser focused and highly tailored to a very specific business objective.

Generally, generalized questions with lager scopes should be used as starting points. These broad questions often bring about follow up or secondary questions that need answering in order to obtain the data necessary to answer the initial question.

For example, asking how a particular process has been performing may also require information on:

  • Output production
  • Supply chain process data
  • QA data
  • Production resource expenditure or costs
  • And more…

Once you’ve compiled the questions you and your team need answers to, the next step is to find where the data relevant to those questions exists.

Data Search and Rescue

Step two is a logical one. Now that we know the questions that need answering, we need to document where the data is located that is needed to answer those questions.

This data may come from:

  • Third party systems such as Google analytics, or other apps or applications you utilize
  • Local databases
  • Hosted files
  • Intranet
  • Old school Excel / CSV files
  • And more…

Once you’ve identified where your data is stored, it’s time to put engineering on making sure you can bring all that data together. This is where most businesses falter. A lack of internal resources and skill sets necessary to engineer custom dashboards pulling data from various systems is simply beyond the capability and scope of most departmental employees.

This is where we can help. Our managed solution brings the experience and know-how necessary to quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively build out custom dashboards that perform.

Bringing that Data to Life

Data can take on many forms, but one of the most digestible ways to display data is by visualization. This may take on any number of forms depending on your needs and preferences.

In general common visualizations include:

  • Charts
  • Graphs (line, circle, bar, etc.)
  • Funnels
  • Gauges
  • And more…

Visualized representations of data help you to quickly and accurately gain insight into what’s going on at any given moment without having to dig into boring numbers on spreadsheets.

Collaboration & Communication

Dashboards and data are only good to those that have access. In most industrial and manufacturing organizations this data is often siloed into departments or with single individuals, making collaboration and communication regarding information difficult if not virtually impossible.

Digital dashboards provide a centralized command center where access (limited or otherwise) can be granted for ease of collaboration and communication on what matters most.

Types of Dashboards Worth Considering

When it comes to digital dashboards, the options are virtually limitless. However, there are a few core dashboards that most organizations find critical to driving operational success.

Analytical Dashboards

These dashboards focus on “what if” scenarios, and largely leverage data aggregated over periods of time to provide historical insights such as trends. These insights provide information used to determine what occurred, why it happened, and what could have been done to positively impact similar outcomes in the future.

Opportunities and patterns uncovered can be leveraged to align individual performance initiatives with overall business goals and objectives.

Example: Answer to why growth for a particular product line or manufacturing process slowed during Q1 but spiked during Q3.

Example: Answer to why QA satisfaction reports tend to lag during the first two weeks of the month

In summary, analytical dashboards help businesses identify and select specific goals or targets based on identifiable historical intelligence, insights and patterns.

Operational Dashboards

Think of these as the workhorses of dashboards. These displays help to manage the “day to day” operational processes of various departments, providing a stead and continual view of what is happening at any given moment in time.

These dashboards afford management to quickly identify areas of opportunity day in and day out to improve process, efficiency, accuracy, quality, spend, and more, allocating time and resources to where it’s needed most or will have the greatest impact on KPIs.

So whereas analytical dashboards generally utilize past data to come up with trends and patterns, operational dashboards are more frequently utilized in real or near real time to make day to day changes and decisions.

Operational dashboards are generally set up per department or process, with an centralized dashboard that aggregates and displays information on a company-wide basis (say for the Chief of Operations or CEO).

Executive / Strategic Dashboards

Think of these as operation central, displaying the KPIs important to C-Level execs. These are the performance numbers that executives immerse themselves in daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly in order to keep the ship steered on course and positioned to hit designated targets within ideal timelines.

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