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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 to 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 business intelligence 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 key performance indicators 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 userfriendly 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 for 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 business 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 the need for 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 performance 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.
- Collaborative environment: Collaboration is key when it comes to data. A 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.
5 Tips For Monitoring Dashboard Design
Those are just a few of the various benefits coming from these insightful tools. Now, 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 5 tips for monitoring dashboard design.
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 seat 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. Make sure 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 to only choose the metrics and KPIs that will provide an 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 data visualization 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. 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 the way 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.
If you want to take your skills to the next level, take a look at our dedicated post on dashboard design. Now let’s take a look at 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 5 monitoring dashboard examples for different functions and industries to keep putting the power of these analytical tools into perspective. Let's kick it off with a sales 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. Like 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 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 business metrics. Critical indicators such as the 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.
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. 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.
If you are ready to start making data-based decisions and take your analytics to the next level, try our monitoring dashboard software for a 14-day free trial today!