A business intelligence dashboard is an analysis and data visualization tool. Ideally, it displays your business metrics and data points on a single screen. This allows you to see all of the information you need at once. Many experts now consider a BI dashboard critical to your business efforts. This article will focus on the benefits of business intelligence dashboards.
So, why should you have a business intelligence dashboard? They have several benefits that, for most companies, outweigh any challenges, typically related to building an effective dashboard that is not overly flashy or distracting. Even small companies can benefit from a well-designed BI dashboard.
Here are some of the apparent benefits.
A BI dashboard can help you track both short and long-term trends. For example, they can help you establish that you make more sales in September than in October, and then you can think about why. You can map trends to events in the news, even the weather. (Many restaurants, for example, sell fewer seats at tables and more delivery when it is raining hard).
In addition to sales, you can track HR trends, manufacturing machines’ output, IT usage, etc. You can track orders over time and thus understand better what to order.
Going back to the restaurant, you might discover that you sell more burgers and fewer salads on Thursdays, and thus can order more meat to ensure you can meet the demand. Or maybe you sell more burgers on days when the local football team has a home game, which can also be planned.
Improved Project Management
Project managers and contractors can use a project-specific dashboard to track tasks, deadlines and costs to help keep projects on time and within budget. The project dashboard can track time spent by each member on the cost, monitor workloads to ensure nobody is overburdened, and help spot bottlenecks and slowdowns.
This data can then inform planning for the next project and help make it smoother.
Improved Employee Focus
Focus supports productivity by ensuring that employees and supervisors dedicate their time to things that matter. A BI dashboard can help show which tasks give the most for time. This data can then be shared with employees to help them prioritize and focus and thus make better decisions.
The dashboard can also show which employees complete specific tasks faster/better than others, allowing you to shift assignments to maximize productivity without impacting work/life balance.
Your dashboard can be set up with customized key performance indicators (KPIs), allowing you to measure the performance of individual employees, entire teams, and the company.
You can track information in multiple areas, across multiple departments, and in near real-time. This helps set smart goals that individuals and teams can easily understand and meet and which are feasible based on past performance.
Each key performance indicator is essential to building a good dashboard. Make sure not to choose so many you get a lot of noise but not so few that the picture ends up inaccurate.
For example, you might want to track IT tickets closed per hour, but with a good BI dashboard you can go further and break it down by the “level” of the ticket, allowing for the fact that some tickets are inevitably going to take longer than others. By recording how long it typically takes to close each ticket, you can set averages that help you understand how long it should take. This can also be helpful to IT professionals trying to manage their time.
Improved Allocation of Resources
We’ve already mentioned making sure you have enough of a product or ingredient and allowing for trends. A good business intelligence dashboard helps you allocate your resources better in general.
For example, if a project needs more work hours than anticipated, you can be sure to allocate the time (and budget) to the next similar project to avoid the same bottleneck. You know when you might need to authorize overtime or bring in temporary staff to ensure a project is completed.
You can also track IT usage to ensure that you always have enough capacity but are not paying extra.
Reduced Data Waste
“Data waste” is when you generate and store raw data but never actually use it. In many cases, this is not because the raw data isn’t useful but because you need the tools to use it properly.
Storing data costs money and even small amounts can rapidly add up to the significant use of IT resources. A BI dashboard transforms this data into easily visualized, human-readable formats that are then actually used.
It can also help you identify if you are collecting and storing data that is not useful. Furthermore, analytical dashboards make the data particularly easy to read by allowing you to visualize it in the best format for you or the person primarily looking at it. It is much easier for the human brain to process images than text.
The dashboard lets you see your most important business metrics at a glance. Leaders can react quickly to changes and trends, making your entire company more agile.
Knowing your sales trends helps you reduce waste and avoid making too much of a product and then trying to sell it later at a discount or running out and potentially losing sales. Knowing HR trends allows you to right-size employee time, saving money on unnecessary overtime while assuring you always have the needed staffing resources.
BI reports can be generated automatically without requesting them from the IT department, allowing for much faster reaction times. This has proven particularly valuable over the last two years. The various challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate the vital need to pivot immediately depending on local conditions, whether caused by contagious disease, weather, or other events. Agility will be a massive part of how companies remain competitive in the future.
By bringing together all of your data in an easy-to-read format, a good BI dashboard helps you develop the strategies you need. You can easily track progress towards your goals and more rapidly see if a goal you are aiming at is, in fact, a “good fit” that will help your business thrive.
This actionable insight allows you to determine the best strategy for you. You can also look at the data for clues as to new ideas and ways to achieve your goals. For example, if the data shows an unexpected increase in sales at an odd time, you can brainstorm ways to take advantage of it. You can also look at the real audience for your products and change marketing tactics accordingly.
Having the data at your fingertips allows you to make a strong strategic business decision.
Improved Predictive Analytics
While nobody can see the future, hence the need for agility, the more easy-to-read data you have, the better your chance of making accurate predictions of market changes, consumer behavior, identifiable risks, and overall trends.
This lets you know how your business is growing and developing and plan accordingly. You can start seeing the long-term trends that allow you to invest your effort and money in the right place, at the right time, to support the changing future.
The world is inherently unpredictable, but patterns can often show in the data that will help you make more informed decisions.
Efficient Data Analytics
A BI dashboard pulls in all of your data from all sources. There is no need to transfer data from one piece of software to another or plug it in manually.
Analytics dashboards should be able to integrate with all your business analytics tools. The time instead is spent upfront on setup and while you may need to change your interactive dashboard, you will not be spending ongoing effort just making sure the numbers are in the right place.
This saves time, money, and IT resources. It also makes good data analysis easy for even those not experienced with business intelligence tools. Many business users won’t even need to worry about the software gathering the data. They will only need to consider building the dashboard itself.
So, how do you get the right business dashboard? Microsoft Power BI is a remarkable business intelligence tool suited to even the smallest businesses. Because it is from Microsoft, it has a UI design you are likely to be familiar with. Power BI also integrates with the Microsoft products you already use.
Power BI Premium comes with access to the Power BI Datamart, which allows for even more integration and analysis of your data.
Want to Talk More About the Benefits of Business Intelligence Dashboards?
Suppose you are interested in Power BI, Microsoft’s BI dashboard software. In that case, we at IncWorx offer high-quality business intelligence consulting services to help you design and build the best BI solution. To find out more, check out our blog or contact us to schedule a consultation.