Imagine the dashboard that effectively aligns your organization, saves time and money, and is loved by its users. A comprehensive Business Intelligence (BI) strategy can transform an organization from a siloed, slow-moving company to an aligned, nimble, insight-driven organization. A dashboard that incorporates these 5 traits will address the needs of the organization as well as the individual motivations and behavioral needs of its users.

In the past, financial and operational reporting was limited to static reports. Users gleaned insights from fixed tables, charts, and commentary fed to them by analysts. Follow-up questions were ushered back to those same analysts with some turnaround time to respond. Report audiences were limited, often excluding key line employees, because confidential information couldn’t be easily omitted. Report delivery lagged behind data availability. Analyst staffing ballooned to match the reporting appetite of leadership, due to the manual nature of reporting and research. This restricted scenario resulted in delays, stifled creativity, reduced availability of information, and excess staffing.


As BI tools have evolved, companies are building relevant, intuitive, and cost-effective dashboards. Live links to source data support real-time updates.  Security features ensure dashboard viewers only see the information they need to see. Line employees are empowered with information and insights to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. With a few additional clicks, follow-up questions can be self-answered in the moment. A single analyst can impact an entire organization.


As companies advance their BI strategies, however, the change can cause discomfort for legacy tool users. People who are used to receiving spreadsheets, or other static reporting, may be reluctant to use more interactive tools. A brilliant dashboard is rendered irrelevant if users reject it. BI teams should strive to build a dashboard their users will love, from executives to line users. To drive dashboard adoption, the business must address the needs of the organization as well as the individual motivations and behavioral needs of its users. In other words, the secret to deploying a successful dashboard is making it lovable.


Here are 5 traits of a lovable dashboard.


1. A lovable dashboard aligns metrics with business goals.

Key metrics should be spotlighted and socialized throughout the organization, both through the dashboard tool and with corporate messaging. The metrics can be financial in nature, but they don't have to be. Depending on the audience, the relevant business goals could be related to profitability, unit throughput, client satisfaction, timing, or just about anything. Whatever the key metrics for the user audience, they should tie back to a company-wide goal that’s aligned with investor expectations. Including a metric in the dashboard that isn’t important to the success or failure of the organization is noise which decreases the perceived usefulness, and thus adoption, by users. A lovable dashboard helps users see the impact they're having on the organization’s achievement of its goals.


2. A lovable dashboard impacts business decisions.

In order to impact business outcomes, a dashboard should communicate both the upstream drivers and the downstream outcomes of business decisions. This approach also enables business leaders to hold teams accountable for individual metrics that drive financial results. A deep enough level of detail should be made available in the tool so that users are able to dig for answers and to identify opportunities for improvement on their own. A lovable dashboard empowers users with timely, relevant information they can use to improve their impact on the organization.


3. A lovable dashboard communicates the success or failure of individual employees.

Everyone’s heard the phrase “What's in it for me?” Not only is that sentiment relevant to dashboard adoption but it could be the single most important element in rolling out a successful dashboard. A BI strategy should certainly be supported with executive championing, but usage skyrockets when the dashboard design taps in to the motivations of the individuals who use the tool. An insight-driven organization aligns business goals with individual employees' goals. Visuals which depict distance to goal attainment of individual metrics will resonate with users who are being rewarded on that basis. A lovable dashboard tells a story that’s impactful to its users and communicates their personal achievement.


4. A lovable dashboard is available to the people who need it.

Sure, it's important to share metrics with executive leaders and managers, but what about the folks on the ground who make daily decisions that impact the business? The mechanic, the cashier, the client service representative, or any other employee who delivers value to the organization. True business transformation occurs when these line employees are empowered with timely, data-driven insights. The conversation evolves from understanding the past to improving the future, and the expanded audience supports a culture of inclusion and empowerment. A lovable dashboard is available to the key members of the value chain.


5. A lovable dashboard drives business process alignment.

Efficient processes within and among teams should flow and be consistent, avoiding duplication of effort and non-value-add activities. In addition to improved delivery and profits, another outcome of efficient processes is quality data. A successful BI strategy does not focus solely on data available today. A comprehensive approach evaluates what data is needed to communicate a complete story and seeks out information not currently being captured. This strategy requires evaluation of the processes driving the data and the improvements needed to enable the flow of accurate information to the dashboard tool. A lovable dashboard drives process alignment, efficiency, and greater availability of clean data.


A successful Business Intelligence strategy can transform an organization from a siloed, slow-moving company to an aligned, nimble, insight-driven organization. A dashboard that incorporates these 5 traits will be loved by its users and the organization will benefit as a result.


To find out more about designing and implementing a lovable dashboard, contact Melanie Manning.


Melanie Manning is the founder and Managing Director of Empower Business Optimization Consulting in Atlanta, Georgia. After a 20-year career in corporate finance and operations, Melanie recognized the value of business resources who could see the big picture and were also capable of implementing solutions. To address the need, she founded Empower with the mission of supporting growth through analytics. Melanie earned a degree in Finance, with a focus in Mathematics, from the University of Florida and an MBA, with concentrations in Finance and Management, from Emory University. After Emory, she went on to achieve the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.