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Behind the scenes of CakeHR’s dashboard design: In conversation with Kaspars Upmanis

by Shilpi Choudhury, Writer, FusionChartsWednesday, February 26, 2014

Behind the scenes of dashboard design is a series of interviews with Product Managers, Developers and Designers of software products with kick-ass information dashboards to help you get an insider’s view into their making. This is the fifth and concluding part of the series.

Handling time offs of employees can be a tedious job for an HR manager, especially when the organization has offices at multiple locations. If not managed properly, organizations face issues of short-staffing and absenteeism.

CakeHR aims to solve this issue by keeping all employee data in a single, unified, web-based app. HR Managers or Admins can see how much time off an employee has available to them and employees can see the same information, and request time off at the touch of a button.

The story behind CakeHR’s birth is also interesting. In mid-2011, Kaspars Upmanis, Founder of Mosties!, a Digital Productions company, was working out of its London office. However, the team at his Riga office was also expanding rapidly and he did not even know the name of all his employees, forget knowing their time offs! He started looking for an app which would help him sort this out. Finding nothing that fulfilled his requirement, he decided to build one for his own team. Once it took concrete shape, they decided to release it publicly using the SaaS model.

I recently caught up with Kaspars Upmanis, Founder of CakeHR, to understand what went behind the building of their dashboard. Here are the excerpts from the interview:

What is CakeHR and how does it solve user problems?

CakeHR gives HR managers an easy overview of their workforce―all employee data in one place, including holidays & sick days.

What were the primary reasons behind incorporating a dashboard in your product?

Administrator level users needed a global view to see what’s happening in their company―who’s out of office, who has requested a time off, how many days each employee has left. In the dashboard we show all of that in one place.

Who is your primary target user and how does the dashboard help her perform her job better?

Primary target users for dashboard are company owners and HR managers―they have admin level access to see everything in one place. By logging into CakeHR they immediately see what’s happening with their employees―who’s off, upcoming holidays, remaining balances, etc.

How did you go about building the dashboard? What were the technical decisions you had to make?

Our dashboard has had multiple revisions since launch. Initially we realized part of the information we display there isn’t needed and had to re-think the approach.

Latest revision was due to the introduction of a responsive layout with flexible column grid which degrades nicely into single column on mobile.

We also used a couple of JavaScript components from Twitter Bootstrap.

What were your design considerations for the dashboard?

In the latest iteration the task was that dashboard had to be responsive. It realigns based on screen width (desktop, tablet, mobile).

What are some of the USPs of your dashboard?

Our Dashboard allows Time off request creation & Approval process from single screen and provides immediate overview of employee holiday statuses. In addition to these, the dashboard gives a view of the following:

  • Remaining holiday balances
  • Outstanding time off requests
  • Upcoming 30 days (holidays, sickdays, anniversaries)
  • Who’s off today
  • Latest account activity (who’s changes what)

Why do you think dashboards are important in software products?

People have less & less time to focus so having a good dashboard is extremely important. The less clicking around, the better!

Where do you see the data visualization industry in 2014?

In 2014, I see a trend towards more customizable and responsive layouts.

If you liked reading this, you may also want to check out the behind the scene dashboard story of RescueTime, FacileThings, Server Density and Simplee.

This is the concluding part of the series where we featured some products across business verticals with kick-ass information dashboards . Do let us know your feedback in the comment section below.

About the author

Shilpi Choudhury is a writer at FusionCharts, an enterprise-grade charting solutions that has clients like NASA, Microsoft, Cisco, GE, AT&T, and World Bank. She is also a guest blogger at Uxmag, Six Revisions and Visual.ly. Her focus is on writing about data visualization, dashboard design, and best practices in charting. You can follow her on twitter or connect with her on Google+.

Article originally posted on FusionBrew.

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