Every successful automobile company has an engineering team dedicated to the refining and reengineering of their cars' dashboards. This is because not only does a dashboard need to effectively communicate important information that resides "under the hood," but it also needs to offer the information in a visually compelling format. Imagine, without a well thought-out and expertly designed dashboard, how would the driver know how fast they were going or how much gas was in the tank? You would, essentially, be "driving blind."



The same idea applies when an organization looks to implement business intelligence (BI) dashboards. In developing a dashboard, it is imperative that the design enables users to easily navigate the data to gain relevant insight. The art and science of achieving this is referred to as "dashboard storyboarding."

Dashboards offer powerful visual reporting of data expressly designed to provide organizations with the insight needed for quick, intelligent decision-making. However to be effective, they must be properly built - from the ground up. Long-term success is best assured with a repeatable storyboarding process, as outlined in these four steps:

1) Identify User Groups
2) Classify Dashboard Groups
3) Create a Dashboard Layout
4) Outline a Navigation Sequence

Identify User Groups

Determining key user groups serves to clarify who within an organization will utilize the dashboard, as well as helps to segment the varying information needs for each user group. This is a key step, as it sets the stage for the audience that the dashboard will serve.

For example, a manufacturing organization may decide to create user groups such as operations, supply chain, sales and finance. Once the groups are established, members of these teams help to identify their high-level information needs.

Classify Dashboard Groups

To ensure all the relevant metrics for a subject area are being properly monitored, it is crucial to first determine all the necessary metrics and then bundle them appropriately into groups. This also requires taking into consideration the user groupings that will make the dashboards intuitive and easy to use.

The various facets of an organization's operations demonstrate the importance of dashboard groups. For many businesses various departments such as financial, quality assurance, sales, marketing and IT have department level objectives that must be tracked closely to monitor performance. Presenting all of the department's key performance indicators in a group of dashboards enables users to benefit from a single point of access for all of their information needs.

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