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Best Practices for Building Digital Dashboards
from Dundas Data Visualization

by Terrence Sheflin, Web Developer, Dashboard InsightSunday, May 13, 2007

1. Introduction

This paper defines what a digital dashboard is and is designed to help you identify the key elements which make a digital dashboard useful. Having over three years' experience in building and designing digital dashboards for multiple needs and end users, Dundas Software is in the unique position of consolidating our experience into information that will help you build a visually appealing and well designed digital dashboard.

A digital dashboard is a collection of data visualization tools that provide the means to quickly get an overview of how an organization or a section of an organization is performing and the reasons behind its performance. A digital dashboard achieves this by allowing a user to monitor important business activities and processes that give insight into a company’s activities. One example of a tool used by dashboards is KPIs. KPIs, discussed more in section 3.3, give the user a very accurate idea of how a unit is performing without the user having to do deep analysis. KPIs are a fast and efficient way to deliver information, and are an integral part of a digital dashboard. In addition to providing quick analysis tools such as KPIs, dashboards allow the user to analyze the root causes of performance from many different perspectives. Once the root causes of performance are known, it is much easier for that organization or individual to act accordingly. In short, a digital dashboard is a tool that allows a user to quickly monitor and analyze an organization, division, group or individual’s performance.

Digital Dashboards are used in all industries including Manufacturing, Financial, Healthcare, Retail, Education and Energy. Each industry uses dashboards in different ways, but the overall purpose of a dashboard stays the same.


Dundas Data Visualization Stock Market Executive Dashboard

Figure 1: Financial Dashboard


Help Desk Digital Dashboard

Figure 2: Help Desk Dashboard

As you can see in Figures 1 and 2 above, the help desk dashboard looks very different from the financial dashboard; what may be useful for one industry may not be at all useful in another. That said every industry has some metrics that can benefit from a dashboard format and that can potentially make a company more efficient.

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Matt Meyer said:

Having a consolidated list of what a dashboard is and what makes a dashboard good is a very handy thing. I've yet to find anywhere else that has such a concise list of what makes a dashboard good.

I would like to see more dashboards from a variety of different companies though to compare and see how dashboards can be made efficient and useful.

Archie Leach said:

Thanks - how does one submit a demo so that it appears at http://www.dashboardinsight.com/dashboards/ ?

Terrence Sheflin said:

The easiest way to submit is to goto our contribute page - http://www.dashboardinsight.com/Contribute.aspx.

In essence, e-mail peter traynor (peter@dashboardinsight.com) or phone us at 800.536.7515.

Gregory John said:

I would like to see the results from one or more industry-wide survey(s) that quantifies the use of various dashboard building applications -- especially those that take into account you best practices

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