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Best practice when starting a Business Intelligence project

Best practice when starting a Business Intelligence project

Thursday 25 June 2015
Author: James D - BI Consultant

The design of dashboards is a very important stage of any business intelligence project. In this article, we look at common mistakes associated with new BI projects and how to follow best practice to ensure yours goes smoothly.

The design of dashboards is a very important stage of any business intelligence project. It has to be intuitive and easy to use so that end users like it and use it regularly. Below, we have listed the 3 most common mistakes in the design of dashboards and highlighted good practice to follow when implementing a BI project.

1)      Using KPIs that are unsuitable for data visualisation

Before choosing your KPIs, try to understand the data you want to view, and especially the information they are supposed to provide end users. Not all graphics highlight the same information. While it may be tempting to impress users with 3D charts or innovative ways of presenting data, be aware that the most relevant are often the simplest (bar charts, histograms, line graphs etc.).

Useful tip:
When creating each chart, put yourself in the users' shoes: do you understand the information at a glance? Are you able to identify the trend in seconds?

 

2)      Not paying attention to the legends and scales on graphs

For your dashboard and its charts to be understandable, pay attention to the key and colour coding as they are essential to the success of your project. If the information is not entirely clear, your users will begin to doubt the quality of your data and will tend to not buy into the dashboard approach as quickly as you’d like.

Useful tip:
Choose a short and clear title for each chart to allow users to easily orientate themselves on the page.


Check that your scales are consistent with the data you are trying to display - the result must be quickly readable without having to scan for extra information or do any calculation in your head.


Use a uniform colour code across your dashboard to avoid confusion. For example, avoid using one colour to indicate last year's figures on one chart, and the same colour for this year's figures on another chart.

 

3) Cluttering the dashboard

Creating slick graphics generally leads to such enthusiasm from users that it is common to want to represent EVERYTHING in a visual form. This is a common trap into which dashboards owners fall. The rule you must remember is "Keep it simple".

The objective of presenting data visually on a dashboard is to get a quick view of your KPIs. If you add too many charts and information on your dashboards, they become overloaded and will probably be unreadable when you export the data to a usable format.

Useful tip:
To create a good dashboard, gather your future users and agree on the KPIs for your business. Rank them in order of importance and think about the best way to display them. Feel free to create some mock ups. This will allow you to have a clear idea on the design and maintain focus on what's important.


Keep these three things in mind to ensure that users love your Business Intelligence dashboard from day one and that it benefits your entire team!

 

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