BI dashboards are similar to cars. They run perfectly when you first get them; however, if you don’t maintain them properly over time, they might start to break down.
In order to make sure that your BI dashboards are running at full efficiency, we recommend running QA reviews of your dashboards at least once per year, preferably bi-annually.
Talking through this with our clients, we have discovered that one of the major barriers to auditing dashboards is that people don’t know where to begin. For that purpose, we have compiled a list of common issues that we have found, and questions that you can run through to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your dashboards.
1- CONNECTIONS TO YOUR RAW DATA:
Dashboards only work if they have a live connection into your systems and technologies. A few small changes can break those connections over the course of a year.
The first question that you should ask yourself is: Have you had any updates in credentials / access points to your data?
This can include things like email or password changes, new team members who need access, old team members who need access removed, etc.
The second thing that we suggest checking in on is API connections. If you have APIs that are not functioning, we need to drill into the why.
This can happen because of technologies updating their API. If their API has been updated or changed on their side, we need to figure out if you just need to re-connect, or if we need to adjust the API connection.
Another common issue that can cause data breakage from the API is changes in your data schema or internal SOPs. If you have changed the naming conventions for something, or changed the way that you structure your data, it’s important to revisit the logic within your dashboards to make sure that they adapt to your scaling business.
2- LOGIC BUILT INTO YOUR DASHBOARDS:
As your dashboards are built, there are formulas baked into the underlying structure of the dashboards. As your business grows, that logic can change and needs to be updated in your dashboards.
Updates to the business
Delving deeper into the issue mentioned above, a lot can change in a business across six to twelve months. Even if your internal changes don’t affect API functionality, it’s important to make sure that your dashboards reflect any potential changes in your business procedures that might have impacted the validity of your dashboards or metrics. Such changes include:
- New SKUs
- New campaigns
- New UTM structure
- New bundled SKUs
- New technologies or tools in the business
Changes in logic, calculations, or definitions
Over time, our views and definitions of metrics may change; it’s important to make sure that these updates are reflected in the dashboards.
For example, some businesses may not have included shipping costs in COGS initially, but now want to include it. Without changing that logic in the dashboard, it will cause your numbers to no longer align and ruin the effectiveness of the dashboard for you.
3- VISUALIZATIONS IN YOUR DASHBOARDS:
Over time, your use and interpretation of your dashboards will change. That means the way you consume your data will also need to change in order to keep up with the new depth of questions you may have.
Changes in visual preference
As we talked about in the previous section, we’re constantly evolving the way that we think about and deal with data. That includes the ways that we want to consume the data.
What once was a beautiful, insightful chart can turn into a headache over time. That’s why it’s important to review how you’re using each graph and chart to see if there is a better way to display the data. This could include simplifying the visuals, removing certain filters or columns, adding new filters that you need, and thinking about the ideal way for you to consume that data.
Simplification of the dashboard
The next thing that needs to be reviewed is the layout of your dashboard. Digital clutter has the same effect on your brain as physical clutter, so you want to keep your digital workspace as clear and organized as possible.
You can ask yourself: are there any metrics that should be archived or removed from view? Are there subpages that could be created to simplify your consumption of the data (potentially for each role or department)?
One of the primary reasons that new business initiatives fail is lack of adoption. Building dashboards is one thing, but they need to be used regularly in order for them to be valuable.
We’ve compiled this list of questions that you can mull over to help you overcome common adoption challenges:
- Are there metrics that were built and aren’t currently being used? If so, does your team need training on those metrics, or do they need to be archived?
- Is there anyone on your team that is not using the dashboards or doesn’t understand their purpose?
- Is there anyone on your team that doesn’t know how to use or interpret these dashboards?
- Are there new team members that weren’t a part of your organization when these were built? Do they need training or help understanding the dashboards?
- Does your executive team know about and understand how to use your dashboards?
- Are your dashboards a regular part of your team’s conversation?
Our goal is to make sure your dashboards grow and evolve as your business grows and evolves. What you needed a year ago might be elementary in comparison to what you need now. We are here to help you keep your dashboards relevant, user friendly, and constantly insightful.
Reach out to us if you have any dashboards that might need to be revisited!