When you provide pre-packaged dashboards, people want to be able to do ad-hoc analysis. When you give them a powerful BI tool for great ad-hoc analysis..they want pre-packaged dashboards. So what is the best solution, to provide one or the other, or both?
First of all it is important to note that pre-packaged dashboards and ad-hoc analysis tools have different use cases. Dashboards with already in-built queries are often used for a quick overall glance at data (the what and how), whereas ad-hoc analysis is used to drill down deeper into the data (the why). Pre-packaged dashboards are likely to be more useful to top level management. Ad-hoc analysis may be preferred by analysts and power users.
Why Pre-packaged Dashboards?
Pre-packaged can bring the quickest ROI, and if this is what an analyst is looking for then there is no reason why a pre-packaged solution could not sufficiently meet the needs of the organization. Getting results to users quickly can be a top priority for some people and pre-packaged functionality can bring speed to the process. Good for general trends and KPI measurement, dashboards should contain a mix of standardized and custom KPI’s, as every organization is different, and an out-of-the-box solution is not likely to suit them all.
Why Ad-hoc Analysis?
However, ad-hoc analysis is likely to be essential at some point during your analytics, as pre-packaged dashboards are no replacement for custom analysis. With a pre-packaged solution there is the danger of having a “false sense of security”regarding your results, because of the level of detail a pre-packaged dashboard provides, which can lead to viewers jumping to the wrong conclusions. The order in which they should be used is also important – a pre-packaged dashboard should always be used before ad-hoc analysis. Why? Since it gives everyone a common set of metrics of which to base performance on. If you supply ad-hoc first, different people will begin basing their analyses on different criteria, which makes a useful dashboard more difficult to create. The advantage of ad-hoc reporting is the flexibility it gives.
Many companies offer the best of both, but many only offer one or the other. One can come at a much higher cost than the other, so think carefully about what your needs are before deciding which is the best for you and your organization.
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