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Data monitoring has been changing the business landscape for years now. That said, it hasn’t always been that easy for businesses to manage the huge amounts of unstructured data coming from various sources. Paired with that, the lack of users with technical skills has delayed the generation of reports to even weeks.
By the time a report is ready, the data has already lost its value due to the fast-paced nature of today’s context. In fact, experts say that companies in the US lose more than $600 billion a year in problems related to keeping their data current and useful.
With that issue in mind, data professionals have developed various online data analysis tools that assist organizations with their data management process, from collection to analyzing and monitoring, all in one central location and in real time. Enter monitoring dashboards. One of the greatest innovations in the BI and analytics industry.
If you are curious about how monitoring dashboards work, in this insightful guide, we will cover every relevant aspect related to these powerful analytical tools. We will go through a definition, benefits, design tips, and a list of templates that you can use to understand the value of dashboard monitoring.
Let’s kick it off with the definition.
What Is A Monitoring Dashboard?
Monitoring dashboards are online analytical tools that provide a centralized view of relevant KPIs in real time. Thanks to the intuitive interface of monitoring dashboards, businesses can quickly spot inefficiencies and optimize their performance for constant growth.
The image above is an example of a monitoring dashboard for sales. These tools provide a centralized location to merge your most relevant KPIs together and ensure your goals and objectives are being met. The level of interactivity provided by them allows you to navigate the data to find hidden insights that can boost your strategies.
Without online dashboards, companies would be left with a huge amount of unstructured data to deal with. These tools have a user-friendly interface that empowers everyone without the need for technical skills to extract relevant insights from them.
As mentioned, businesses are losing a great deal of money trying to keep their data current. It is no secret that markets are becoming more and more competitive by the day, and whoever doesn’t use data to their advantage will simply stay behind. Monitoring dashboards take care of this issue thanks to their real-time nature that allows users to stay on top of their performance at all times as well as tackle any issues the moment they arise.
Why Do You Need Monitoring Dashboards?
Introducing a data-driven culture inside an organization is not an easy task. Luckily, BI solutions such as interactive monitor dashboards facilitate this task by democratizing data and making it accessible to every key player. To keep putting the value of dashboard monitoring tools into perspective, we will now list a few of the main benefits businesses can reap from implementing them into their analytical process.
- A user-friendly approach to data: Expanding on the point above, one of the greatest challenges for any company trying to leverage its data is the lack of technical skills, as most average users feel threatened by data. In fact, for decades, analytical tasks have been delegated to the IT department, leaving IT employees to collapse with work and report generation. With monitoring reports, this is not an issue. They provide a user-friendly interface that allows any type of user to generate business dashboards in a matter of minutes. In time, this empowers all employees to use data for their decision-making process without needing any prior skills.
- Informed decision-making: Considering that competition is getting higher by the minute, businesses that want to succeed over their peers can simply not afford to shoot in the dark when it comes to important decisions. A monitoring report provides live access to your most important indicators so that you can support any relevant discussion on the go. With a monitoring dashboard, there is no need to wait days or hours to get your data or make decisions based on intuition; all the information you need will be within your reach to act on any developments as soon as they happen.
- A collaborative environment: Collaboration is key when it comes to data. Modern online reporting software offers the possibility to easily share your monitoring dashboards with any relevant stakeholder through different channels and formats. This is possible thanks to the online nature of these tools. Being able to share dashboards and reports enhances collaboration between the different teams by keeping them connected through the data. In time, this generates a cohesive culture within the business that will lead it forward from its competitors.
- Responsivity to change: Niche or sector aside, change is constant in the business world. Dynamic tracking tools will empower you to drill down into the real-time insights that matter most and deal with any issues as they emerge. With access to dynamic ‘in the moment’ data, you will also be equipped to deal with every change that comes your way. Take informed action that will ultimately benefit your organizational growth.
10 Tips For Monitoring Dashboard Design
Now you're up to speed with the benefits, let’s look at the essential design principles that will propel your monitoring dashboard from average to astounding. At this point, you might be wondering, how do I create them? Just like with any other process, generating dashboards requires you to follow a few best practices that will ensure you are extracting the maximum potential out of them. A dashboard that is not designed correctly can do more damage than good.
So, to avoid that from happening to you, here we list the top 10 tips for monitoring dashboard design. Let’s start by looking at the importance of understanding your organizational goals and knowing your audience.
1. Define general goals and audience
The first step when creating them is to think about your goals and audience. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to extracting the maximum potential out of these tools. On the contrary, making them tailored to your audience's needs is the best way to go. To achieve this, it is necessary to sit down with all relevant stakeholders and define clear goals that will serve as a guide for which metrics to include in your dashboard.
Another important aspect is to consider the level of knowledge of your audience. If you are presenting a financial report to a client or team member that is not familiar with some of the metrics on it, then you should make sure to include brief explanations to facilitate the way they navigate the dashboard. Ensure you are telling a cohesive story that is easy to understand at a glance. This is a truly important design step to consider, as a misinterpretation of data can seriously damage your decision-making process.
2. Choose relevant KPIs and metrics
Expanding on the point above, once you have defined the core goals and needs of your audience, it is time to choose the KPIs and metrics that will help you tell the story. That said, it is a common misconception that anything that can be measured needs to be measured. This could not be further from the truth when it comes to monitoring dashboards. The space you have to tell your data story is limited. Therefore, it is necessary only to choose the metrics and KPIs that will provide extra value and not distract from the purpose of the analysis.
Another important point to consider here is the importance of differentiating metrics from KPIs. For that purpose, you can take a look at our KPIs vs metrics blog post.
3. Choose the right type of visual
Our first tips were focused on the planning stage, now, we will cover a fundamental tip involving the actual generation of the dashboard. Once you have defined the metrics and KPIs you want to portray, you need to define which types of charts of graphs you will use to do so. There are a bunch of graphs and charts options you can choose from. However, it is important to consider that not all indicators will be best represented by any type of graph. For instance, line and column charts are best suited to show particular trends, while pie charts are best to show the composition of your data.
Using the wrong chart can make your data misleading and harder to understand; therefore, it is fundamental to take the time to carefully consider which type of visual will suit your KPIs the best.
4. Use the 10-15 seconds rule
A monitor dashboard that is overcrowded defeats the whole purpose and becomes useless. The way you position your charts and graphs, as well as the amount that you decide to integrate, will significantly influence the way a dashboard is perceived. To help with this, you can use the 10-15 seconds rule as a guide.
Essentially, this rule states that the user should be able to go through all the most vital pieces of information in 10 to 15 seconds. If it takes longer than that, it is very likely that the monitor dashboard is overcrowded and hard to read. The aim when it comes to design should be to keep the visualizations clean and focused. Always revisit the design to make sure it is working as it should.
5. Avoid visual crowding
Your dashboard monitoring tool should give all stakeholders the tools to benefit from data-driven insights relevant to their duties, department, or internal processes. Expanding on the previous point, to ensure your dashboard serves up valuable insights with a quick glance, you should avoid visual crowding at all costs. What we mean here is that every visual element or KPI within your dashboard should be evenly spaced so users can track vital real-time data with minimal strain or effort. Assess every dashboard design by checking whether any of your charts or visuals are clustered together and spread them out if necessary.
6. Benefit from interactive filtering options
Last but not least, you should benefit from advanced filters when building your monitoring reports. BI dashboard tools offer the possibility to use various interactivity filters that facilitate how users navigate dashboards. For instance, a drill down filter allows you to explore lower levels of hierarchical data all in one chart. This way, you avoid overcrowding your dashboards with multiple charts while still having the answers to any critical question in one central location.
7. Keep your colors clean and clear
When it comes to creating a results-driven data monitoring dashboard, you should always prioritize simplicity over style. In addition to evenly spacing your visual elements, you should also be clear and consistent with your color customizations. If you use a broad spectrum of colors or tones that visually clash, you will detract from the most important information or insights, making your efforts redundant. As a general rule of thumb, you should stick to around two to three consistent colors that complement one another. Rather than using bright or highly-saturated colors, opting for understated pastel hues will help your users focus on the information when it matters most rather than causing confusion.
8. Make your labeling and formatting choices consistent
When your aim is to track dynamic data in real-time, gaining the ability to interact with it seamlessly should be one of your main priorities. With this in mind, it’s not only important to ensure your colors are consistent, but you must also create a sense of uniformity with your labels and formatting. If your dashboard formatting and data labeling efforts are inconsistent, you will cause a level of friction that will make the analytical process sluggish. To avoid such a calamity, you should choose a format that you can roll out across every KPI on your dashboard. It’s also vital that you choose a labeling style (the same abbreviations, numeric rather than written numbers, etc.) that you apply to every informational touchpoint within your dashboard.
9. Create the right user experience (UX) across devices
Any modern dashboard monitoring tool worth its salt will offer 24/7 data analytics access across multiple devices. Armed with the ability to track, measure, and drill down into your most valuable insights from wherever you are in the world will boost productivity while improving your business intelligence (BI) capabilities across the board. But to benefit from this data-driven flexibility, you must ensure your dashboards are optimized for both desktop and mobile. Always test your reports on multiple devices and make the right design tweaks to ensure you create the best possible user experience across the board.
10. Gather internal feedback
Last but certainly not least, to ensure your design efforts remain relevant and beneficial to the business, you should gather regular feedback from users across departments. Running periodic feedback workshops and offering your colleagues ways of providing feedback based on their dashboard tracking experiences will help you optimize your design efforts for success and earn a consistently healthy return on investment (ROI) for your real-time data tracking efforts.
If you want to take your skills to the next level, take a look at our dedicated guide to effective dashboard design. Now let’s examine some real-world monitoring dashboard examples for different industries and functions.
Monitoring Dashboard Templates & Examples
Now that we covered some design tips and best practices, it is time to see what the final result would look like. Here we will present 10 monitoring dashboard examples for different functions and industries to keep putting the power of these analytical tools into perspective.
Let's kickstart our journey with a dynamic sales tracking template.
1. Sales Monitor Dashboard
Our first monitoring dashboard template covers fundamental metrics related to the sales department's performance with a focus on sales targets and growth. By providing a mix of interactive visuals, managers can track every relevant aspect of their performance in real-time and easily optimize it to ensure goals are being met.
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Sales managers need to have constant access to these metrics in order to ensure everything is running smoothly. For instance, the sales target KPI can tell them if the team is meeting its goals or if something needs to be improved. This information can be complemented with historical data on relevant metrics such as ARPU, CLV, and CAC for the past 12 months. The mix of current and historical insights enables users to identify hidden trends that can help them make informed strategies based on more than just intuition.
2. Social Media Monitoring Dashboard
Social media channels function in fast-paced environments that require brands and businesses to stay on top of any new developments to stay current and build a loyal community. Taking that into account, a social media monitoring dashboard with real-time insights becomes an invaluable tool to stay ahead of competitors.
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With a mix of marketing KPIs, this scorecard dashboard provides insights into the performance of 4 key social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Each of these metrics is monitored in real time and compared to an expected target. Given the time-sensitive nature of social media strategies, the dashboard provides at-a-glance insights into which areas need improvement. Just by looking at the metrics in red, users can easily understand where they need to focus their improvement efforts. Through this, they can stay on top of any issues and ensure excellent performance.
3. Service Monitoring Dashboard
It would be impossible to put the value of a monitor dashboard into perspective without talking about one of the most important areas for any business. Yes, we are talking about customer service. Customers are the backbone of any organization, and keeping them happy should always be a top priority. Thankfully, businesses don’t need to shoot in the dark when it comes to these decisions, they can find all the answers they need just by looking at data.
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With that in mind, this customer service dashboard offers insights into the service team's performance. With metrics such as the resolution rates and average response times, teams can easily paint a picture of the kind of service they are offering to their customers and analyze it to find improvement opportunities on an individual as well as team level.
4. Health Monitoring Dashboard
Healthcare business intelligence has revolutionized patient care in many ways. Being able to visualize their most relevant data sources in a centralized location, such as a monitoring dashboard, allows health professionals to tackle any bottlenecks and spot trends to ensure they are providing excellent care as well as a pleasant experience in care facilities. Our next example does just that. It provides top management with a holistic view of hospital performance that allows them to focus on human and monetary resources where they are needed the most.
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As mentioned above, this example provides a holistic view of metrics related to operations and finances. The patients by division KPI will tell the manager which area is in more need of staff to cover the demand of patients. On the other hand, the average waiting time by division can help spot units with issues. Patients waiting to see a specialist for too long might translate into a lack of training for the staff or an understaffing unit that needs more nurses and doctors.
5. CFO Dashboard Monitoring
Probably more than any other C-level position, CFOs can significantly benefit from a tool that allows them to monitor real-time data related not only to finances but also to customer and employee satisfaction. Our financial dashboard below does just that!
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What makes this template so valuable is the fact that it provides a simplified look at complex company metrics. Critical indicators such as revenue, gross profit, EBIT, operating expenses, and net income are depicted in straightforward gauge charts and compared to a target. This allows CFOs to spot at a glance when one of these metrics is not performing as expected and implement corrective action immediately.
6. Employee Monitoring Dashboard
As the beating heart of your entire operation, it’s important to keep your employees happy, engaged, and motivated. By tracking key trends in your employee’s performance or attendance rates, you can nip any potential issue in the bud before it spirals out of control.
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Our monitoring HR dashboard is invaluable to stretched HR teams as it serves up a wealth of balanced visual data based on absenteeism rates, productivity levels, training costs, and overtime hours accrued. This melting pot of information will empower you to identify any peaks or troughs in productivity and attendance while spotting links between the two. If you notice an irregular pattern, you can take direct action by providing support, restructuring your department, or offering the right level of training. With a better grip on your employee management, you will notice a rise in productivity and a reduction in unnecessary costs.
7. Procurement Quality Dashboard
Your procurement processes and strategy will have a huge impact on the overall operation as well as the financial efficiency of your organization. By optimizing your end-to-end process, you will drive down redundant costs while optimizing every cog in the procurement machine for success.
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As one of our best data-driven examples, this highly-informational procurement dashboard serves up a cohesive mix of visuals designed to make your procurement chain more responsive while managing your supplier relationships with pinpoint precision. Here you can identify trends in the quality of your suppliers, drill down into spending, examine emergency ratios, and assess performance from one central location. Armed with this information, you can make supplier substitutes with confidence while making more informed procurement purchasing decisions that will ultimately boost your bottom line.
8. IT Monitoring Dashboard
Your IT department is the backbone of your entire organization. Without an effective means of tracking your various tech-centric processes, it’s unlikely your business will ever reach its full potential—that’s where our IT monitoring dashboard comes into play.
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As such a complex ecosystem, several IT-related issues can occur at any one time. By working with the right data visualizations, you can cut short any problems before they cause any organizational damage. Armed with responsivity KPIs focused on repair time averages, ticket numbers, support metrics, and measuring server downtime trends, this essential IT analytics tool offers a wealth of powerful issue management metrics at your fingertips.
9. Energy Monitoring Dashboard
With energy prices at an all-time high and a wealth of environmental issues to consider, keeping track of your usage across sites and sources has never been more vital. Interacting with the right KPIs will help you handle your energy consumption initiatives with pinpoint accuracy while helping you compare your usage with industry averages.
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Visually engaging and populated with charts geared towards tracking real-time consumption metrics as well as energy source percentages, power cut patterns, and production costs, this energy dashboard offers everything you need to make more informed choices. Working with these dynamic metrics will help you reduce your overall consumption while distributing your energy sources in a way that’s better for your bottom line, your business, and the planet.
10. Media Monitoring Dashboard
As an online publisher or content manager, understanding the communications and subject matter that resonate with your audience most is critical to your ongoing success.
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In the digital age, potential clients or consumers are looking for brands that offer personal value by publishing thought-leading content in their field of expertise. Working with this media monitoring dashboard, you can track your readers’ key demographics, the number of articles you’ve published, your audience’s favorite categories, and your most popular pieces of content.
With this priceless mix of information to hand, you will be able to keep producing the types or styles of content that will engage specific segments of your audience the most while spotting any gaps in your strategic approach. If you notice a sudden change in the age of your readers, for instance, you can explore topics as well as tones of voice that are likely to engage readers of older or younger generations. In turn, this would expand your readership and result in faster organizational growth.
Key Takeaways Monitoring Dashboards
If you’ve gotten to this point, then you must be aware of how professional monitoring reports and dashboards can revolutionize the way you deal with your data.
Whether you’re talking about a social media monitoring dashboard, a dynamic sales tracker, a real-time HR report—or any other kind of template, for that matter—working alongside the right KPIs will streamline every key aspect of your organization.
For decades, businesses have struggled to keep their information current and act on it in time. Thanks to modern business intelligence tools, this is no longer an issue. The self-service and interactive nature of these technologies provide a fast and accessible way to manage data and use it as a competitive advantage. These innovative tools offer a means of being more responsive to sudden change while providing a level of insight that will result in consistent organizational evolution.
Are you ready to take your BI initiatives to the next level? Sample our dynamic monitoring dashboard software for a 14-day free trial today!