Questions courtesy of my project manager, Dean Call. Follow him on Twitter (@dacall) for more Knowledge Management insight.
Business Intelligence dashboards are typically designed with simplicity in mind. After all, the only thing dashboards really do is highlight key information that allows business leaders make critical real-time decisions at a glance. Sounds pretty simple, right? Wrong!
Like many organizations with disparate silos of information, it’s very easy to get lost down a rabbit hole when designing and developing a dashboard solution. The key to staying on track is getting the right information you need from the start.
STEP ONE: Ask leaders, “What questions should the dashboard answer?”
And don’t expect your development team to know the answer. This is a question for leadership – and it is the very first question leaders should start with. Why? Because if your dashboard doesn’t help you make decisions, then it’s just data. And it doesn’t matter how pretty your charts and graphs are, without context or historical trending, the data won’t tell you a damn thing.
It’s like having a gas gauge in your car that only tells you how many gallons of gas you have. Unless you know the capacity of your tank and can quickly do the math, this information only becomes helpful when you can quickly relate it to how empty or full your tank is.
STEP TWO: Evaluate the Current State
This question, though, is just a start. After you figure out what questions the dashboard is supposed to answer, it’s time to ask many more questions. But don’t get ahead of yourself – take it step by step. Asking questions in the following order will ensure you have the right information you need to move forward successfully.
- What pieces are we currently measuring and why?
- What is the as-is?
- What/how did we improve it?
- Where does it fit?
STEP THREE: Focus on the Data
- What data do you need to answer the first question?
- Who owns the data?
- Once you have the data, what is the process that will make it actionable?
- Does it require validation?
- Does it require manipulation (math, perhaps)?
- Does it change?
- If so, how often?
- What is the best way to display this information?
- Does it answer the first question?
- If yes, move to the next question asked in Step One
- If not, repeat Step Three until the answer is yes
As you can see, the first steps of implementing business intelligence dashboards has little to do with the technology used. However, it’s still important to get your development team on board at this stage.
From the start, encourage your tech team to approach this project with a business focus. Remind them that even though technology is facilitating the answers, it doesn’t define the answers. Heck, you may even want to remind your client too.
So what do you think?
- From your experience, what are other important questions to ask?
- What have you learned from being in similar situations?
- What advice can you offer?