Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dashboards – Not Just for Cars

dashboard photo The automotive dashboard is designed to quickly communicate important information and status without causing a distraction that could endanger the passengers or community. 

With the demand for increased productivity and the explosion of available information, dashboards are a valuable tool to utilize in the world of business.

A well designed information dashboard that will be used by multiple functional groups (e.g. Sales, Production, Engineering, and Quality) should provide the following:

  • Minimal information that communicates status (normal/abnormal, on-time/late, action required, etc.)
  • Meaningful information for the people that will be using it
  • Simple and easy to read visual indicators like colors or commonly recognized icons preferred over complex charts & graphs or verbose text
  • Ability to drill down into more detail, as necessary
  • Easy to access or hard to miss. If it is more than a click or two away, it may not be used.
  • Easy to update or automated. If the information is not current, it will not be trusted.
  • Ability to filter by functional role or responsibility

The dashboard by itself has little value. An information dashboard is simply a tool that is typically used to support a well defined process where the users understand and agree with their roles and responsibilities surrounding the process and use of the dashboard.