3 Questions Strategy Leaders Should Ask to Create Effective Dashboards

If you’re a strategy leader then you probably find yourself spending a considerable amount of time on reporting. And when I say reporting I don’t mean the act of compiling a report. I mean EVERYTHING that goes into it.

What are we reporting on? How often?

Should we create a dashboard?

Didn’t we use to have one of those one time and it didn’t work?

What should we do instead?

What venue are we presenting the report to?

Will we have a chance to speak to the contents of the dashboard or will it be a leave behind?

You could start going down this path of questioning and it almost becomes too much to bear. The old idea of: “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”

I’m here to reassure you that the juice is indeed worth the squeeze. But only if you’re spending more time using your reports/dashboards than compiling them. To keep it simple, I’ve assembled three simple questions to ask yourself before you create your dashboards.

3 Questions for Effective Dashboards

1 – Who’s your audience?

Some of our customers easily lose sight of this very simple but important question. The type of dashboard you create is entirely dependent on your audience.

You see this every day with newspapers. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are both major newspapers. But the way they structure their information for their readers is completely different. The stories they choose to report on, the location of the story in the paper, and editorials are completely different.

They do this because their readers are not the same. The dashboard you create for your executive team should look very different than the dashboard you create for your board. Ask yourself, what information is most important for this stakeholder group, and let’s make sure we give them what they want.

2 – What’s your message?

You have an entire strategic plan at your fingertips and all the information it contains.

When structuring your dashboard, think about what message you’re trying to send.

Do you need to break up your big plan into smaller pieces?

Do you just put everything out there and let the reader decide?

Where are your KPIs?

Is the context around the performance of your KPIs easy to find?

If you’re not purposeful about the way you set up your dashboards, then you’re letting your message run away from you.

My advice is to not skimp on context. If you think the numbers will speak for themselves, they rarely do. In the AchieveIt platform, organizations use AchieveIt list widget or the free text box to explain what the user is reading. That way they can have the quantitative (KPIs) right next to the qualitative (employee updates).

3 – Are you making people work to understand the message?

So you created a dashboard that is tailored to a specific audience. And it conveys the message you want. So what’s next?

The most effective dashboards contain all the information the stakeholder cares about at a glance.

Are you making your stakeholders click through 2-3 different screens to find the info they want?

Are you hiding a trend line even though that’s how they like to see data trends?

Ask yourself, “would someone reading this report know enough to ask the right questions and make the right decisions?” Don’t make your readers dig to find the information you want them to see.

Start building more effective dashboards today

Dashboards are a great way to track your progress and keep your stakeholders informed. However, before you create one, it’s important to ask yourself who your audience is, what message you want to send, and whether or not the information is easy to understand. If you can answer these questions effectively, then you’re on your way to creating an effective dashboard that will help you achieve your goals.

Creating effective dashboards can be a challenge, but it’s worth it to make sure your stakeholders have all the information they need at a glance. By tailoring your dashboard to a specific audience and including only the most important information, you can help ensure that everyone reading your report understands the message you’re trying to send.

About AchieveIt

AchieveIt is the platform that organizations use to get their biggest, most important initiatives out of the boardroom and into reality. There are so many great ideas never quite make it across the finish line because there’s no real way to keep everyone on track. You’ve got to:

  1. Get everything in view in real-time
  2. Get everyone engaged while also holding them accountable
  3. Get every possible advantage drawing on the experience and best practices of our execution experts

That’s why everyone from global corporations, to regional healthcare systems, to federal agencies have turned to AchieveIt for their Integrated Plan Management. Let’s actually do this.

Ready to improve your plan execution?

Organizations of all types leverage AchieveIt to manage, execute, and connect their most important initiatives. Replace manual processes & siloed systems with interconnected plans in a single, automated platform.


Meet the Author  Joseph Krause

Joe has helped organizations execute thousands of strategic, operational, and project plans in his 10+ years at AchieveIt. Joe is passionate about helping teams drive successful business outcomes with a focus on practical, easy to use advice. Joe graduated from Seton Hall University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and obtained a Masters of Science in Healthcare Communication from Boston University. Joe recently completed his studies at Rutgers University where he obtained a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in finance.

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