It’s highly likely that every company in the software industry has at some point talked about dashboard platforms and the benefits they provide. We’ll be the first to admit that includes us as well! Don’t worry, that’s not why we’re here today. Today, we’re here to discuss the similar yet so different actionable dashboards.
What is an Actionable Dashboard?
Kevin Larrivee, an Executive Analytics Consultant with BT Partners, describes the difference between a dashboard and an actionable dashboard in the most perfect way, “A regular dashboard reports the news. An actionable dashboard gives you information to make change.”
The actionable dashboard gives you the power to have clear insights right at your fingertips to solve issues that pop up. Recently, Harvard Business Review said that 80% of all new data is unstructured, meaning that it is not easily captured or made quantifiable. The dashboard’s numbers, details, and transactions are what make it quantifiable and actionable. You can still have your executive monitor in real-time at a high level, but you are also provided with the granular details that drive action and ultimately change in your workplace.
How to Create One?
To get the most out of your actionable dashboard, we recommend designing it with a three-tiered system in mind. Tier one is an executive-level, like a CEO. Tier two is the direct reports to executive, like a Regional Director. Tier three is the operational level or boots-on-the-ground employees like an Office Manager or the Divisional Director.
Tier one executive monitors high-level real-time Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on the actionable dashboard. They are looking for the ‘check engine light’. They may see this alert and know something is wrong like specific KPIs aren’t being met. However, they’re not provided with information as to the reason why. That’s the job of tier two or tier three employees. Executives take this information to tier two to investigate further. Tier two, who are often the direct reports to the executive (but are sometimes the executive as well who wears both hats) can then dive into more specifics of the alert, like if KPIs are lagging. Staff at the operational level, in tier three, can dive into the nitty-gritty low-level details, like patient logs or machine data, that show individual items in real-time thus enabling immediate action.
Your actionable dashboard, in an ideal setting, would be to have your CEO look at something that’s not quite right on the dashboard. Then have each person down the chain dive into the real-time data insights and uncover what the problem is so it can be corrected. Actionable data gives you the information you need so you can fix it immediately so that by next week when it’s time for the CEO to look at the dashboard again, it’s fixed.
Where Do You Start?
Start with that top-level dashboard and ask yourself what are the three key metrics this executive must have to manage the business. Use these identified KPIs to monitor the different tier levels. For the second tier outline the details and metrics that actually drive those top key metrics. Is it sales, customer requests, or some other metric that is useful to know? Then drill down even deeper for the third tier to the specific budget line items, orders, etc.
Don’t go overboard with the KPIs. This is one situation where having too much information on a dashboard has the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve. Too much on a dashboard provides a messy and unorganized view of the health of a business. Information overload makes it difficult to sift through the details and extract actionable data. Or worse, staff may feel too overwhelmed and won’t even bother trying.
Where Do People Go Wrong?
The most common area where people get it wrong is trying to tailor the actionable dashboard to one specific person to make all the decisions. When you pack too much into one dashboard, like having information overload, it’s too much for one person to handle. According to Kevin, “Some people think a dashboard will solve all the business problems, and that the DOMO dashboard replaces a person. However, that’s a misconception. Its primary purpose is to give a person the necessary tools to help the business.” Kevin continues, “We’re trying to give whoever has the ability to impact something the information they need to impact positive change.”
Each person in the organization can monitor what they need daily rather than just through monthly reporting. An example of an actionable dashboard solving a real-world business problem was a high turnover rate a DOMO client had. The executive was alerted to their staff’s turnover rate creeping higher and higher in one department. The operational manager (tier three level employee) was able to dig deeper into the numbers to find the context behind why the staff was leaving rather than just seeing it from a company-wide perspective.
We recommend daily to weekly cadence for monitoring, depending on what you’re monitoring. If you’re monitoring a Google Ad campaign with 100 clicks per day, you probably want more insight than just once a week. With regular KPIs though, checking the DOMO dashboard daily or weekly is sufficient. Unless of course you’re alerted to something that needs your attention right away.
Speaking of alerts, in solutions like DOMO, you can set up thresholds on different metrics, like if a budget has been exceeded or quotas aren’t getting met. If the threshold is reached, the DOMO dashboard will alert you so that things are not missed or overlooked. We don’t recommend relying 100% on the alerts though. They aren’t intended to do your job of monitoring the dashboard. Think of an alert like the gas light in your vehicle’s dashboard. You should already be aware the car needs to be filled up with gas before the gas warning light comes on. Kevin says, “Actionable dashboards should help people monitor things along the way so that the alert is more of an after-the-fact and they’re already aware of the issue.”
Employing an actionable dashboard in your business gets you one step ahead of competitors who may still be looking at regular dashboards that only tell the status of the business. If you want to discuss your own dashboards or data, let our experts help you gather the insights you need to drive change.