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From business-wide objectives to long-term targets, every organization has specific metrics they need to track. One way to communicate those insights effectively is a KPI dashboard.
KPI dashboards are a great way for executives to improve their management of strategic goals, and keep on top of changes, issues and trends in performance at a high-level, with many useful applications when used correctly, alongside other modern analytics tools.
This blog covers the role of KPI dashboards can play in organizations today, its business benefits, and best practice examples to ensure your users can get the most out of them.
What are KPI dashboards used for?
Simply put, they’re one of the easiest ways to measure progress toward objectives.
A KPI dashboard essentially acts as a top-level graphical summary of core business objectives, or more specific outcomes like departmental targets, and can be used and referenced at-a-glance to more efficiently track general progress toward set goals, analyze potential trends and generally make more informed data-driven decisions.
With supporting charts and tables, KPI dashboards also allow users to compare and understand the detail behind the numbers. Many line-of-business users may not readily ascertain insights from just viewing spreadsheet metrics alone; having interactive data visualization opens new avenues for evaluating overall organizational performance.
Most importantly, they provide helpful high-level insight into performance, rather than every single detail. They don’t provide all the answers for a user, but act as a springboard to determine which areas of the business may need deeper or additional analysis.
What do KPI dashboards include?
Every analytics platform is different, but typically modern KPI dashboards can make use of a wide range of different data visualizations and KPI categories, including conversion rate, revenue growth, churn rate, budget threshold, net profit, share-of-voice (SoV), etc.
The best solutions allow you to build clear and dashboards tailored to each user’s requirements, whether they’re a leader in charge of a department or a project manager handling accounts, with visualized KPIs highlighted based on their relevance.
For example, in Yellowfin’s best practice KPI dashboard example, which you can view in our interactive dashboard gallery, sales are provided a high level overview of year-on-year liquor sales across KPIs, products and store locations. Within it, you can:
- Find latest updated numbers for major overarching KPI categories, such as Sales YTD
- Filter through KPI categories to slice-and-dice and view different perspectives
- Drill down deeper within the dataset, such as through a specific data hierarchy; from overarching product category -> specific types of whiskey
- Drill through data by clicking on any KPI segment to be brought into another linked chart or report for that selected segment for more detail; sales YTD -> Sum sales total amount -> sales by brand -> brand sales itself
- Explore sales by store map, featuring an interactive heatmap of each store region
6 key business benefits of KPI dashboards
Today’s users have the luxury of having advanced analytics solutions, such as automated business monitoring, embedded analytics and natural language to help them analyze their data. However, for operational use cases, a unified KPI dashboard is still a great BI tool to use to find quick answers for top-level questions related to performance.
Below, we summarize 6 key benefits KPI dashboards can bring, when used correctly:
1. Detailed dive: KPI dashboards allow users to organize, filter, drill down, analyze and visualize their most important key targets for any given business area or project in a highly interactive way, which typically helps translate large, complex data into an easy-to-understand format, instead of having to wade through non-curated, unfiltered datasets.
2. Discover changes or issues at scale: Whether they’re segmented by department, overarching objectives or high-level targets, having an organized dashboard that displays critical KPIs next to each other allows users to easily and instantly determine which outcomes are being met according to targets, and what may demand priority or need detailed examination to take effective remedial action.
3. Efficient decision-making: KPI dashboards bring the most critical operational data of a business into one convenient place, helping eliminate data silos in the business, make reporting of KPIs more visible in general and increase efficiency in analyzing performance, setting objectives, allocating investment and improving user workflows.
4. Increased collaboration: Having a high-level visual overview of progress toward KPIs fosters better collaboration and communication among users, as everyone has shared visibility and fast, ready access to the same dashboards to discuss performance and where the team can come together to improve it.
5. Real-time ROI analysis: With the ability to monitor and analyze the organization’s most important performance metrics in real-time, users can see which decisions and investments have worked and by how much, allowing for more proactive analysis and the ability to drive better financial outcomes long-term.
6. Unearth new opportunities and trends: KPI dashboards help users to spot discernable patterns in their data, and unearth potential opportunities and areas of strength (or underperformance) to define or refine their objectives, and enhance and improve the overall performance of the business.
How to build a KPI dashboard: Best practice
The best KPI dashboards display an organization’s most important metrics by following key dashboard design principles (more detail in the link). Here’s a quick summary:
- All critical targets and information must be presented clearly to guide the user through a data journey based on their use case (department, project, etc)
- Visual consistency in colors, graphic elements and topography
- Effective use of language (fonts, headers, etc) to highlight critical metrics
- Efficient use of interactable elements (buttons, links, etc) to lead to appropriate action
- Careful balance of only displaying what the user needs, so they are able to interpret and use the data presented in front of them without cognitive overload
At the end of the day, a user can only get insights out of the data presented on a KPI dashboard if the way it is built, designed and offered to the user follows core principles. Without, the metrics on display may lack clear meaning or usability for proper analysis.
Try Now: Yellowfin KPI dashboard examples
Yellowfin’s action-based, interactive dashboards are designed to make it as easy for users of all skill levels to monitor, explore and use KPI dashboards to inform decisions. See for yourself in Yellowfin's Dashboard Live Gallery.