How to build your first KPI dashboard in only 4 weeks

How to build your first KPI dashboard in only 4 weeks

Building a KPI dashboard can be hard and time consuming. 

You have to collate all the data, convert the results into KPIs, build the dashboard and then distribute to each of the users.  Then there’s the ongoing management, updates and upkeep. Not to mention the change requests and questions, etc, etc.

Yes, it’s hard to get it right, but these four steps will guarantee you a rock solid KPI dashboard in 4 weeks from now:

Week 1: What’s the dashboard about

Before you do anything else, clearly define what the dashboard will explain. In that I mean outline in a few paragraphs the following:

  • What KPIs/metrics it presents?
  • What time period does it cover?
  • Who is it for?
  • Why do they need it?

It sounds obvious and pretty straight forward, but it’s a really valuable exercise to do.

Once you’ve covered that off, share this with the intended audience.  It’ll be the true test of whether there’s value in building it.  Don’t just “build it and they will come”.  They won’t.

Week 2: Gather your data

Now that you know what you have to build, how are you going to get the data?

Sure, you know where the data is and what it looks like.  But the big question is, how will you automate the ongoing updates that this dashboard will need?

“Manually”?

It’s common to begin this way, just to get things moving and give the audience the visibility.  Over time, this process becomes a burden and may well end up being a bottleneck.  Worse still, the manual aspect makes it prone to error.

Ideally, start as you mean to go on and build this with automated data pipelines in mind.

Week 3: Build a prototype & share it

Once you have validated your concept and your data is flowing (automatically), create an early phase prototype.

Create all the components bind them together on the main dashboard.  Layout and styling are important at this stage.  Looks aren’t everything but an appealing dashboard has more gravitas than one full of meaningful measures but with no style.  (aren’t humans fickle creatures?)

If you’re at a loss, lean on your corporate palette or style guide as a basis.  Remember that less is more and white space is nothing to be scared of.

Once complete, and you’ve finished admiring your own work, share it with the intended audience.  Ask for feedback and accept it like a woman, a strong willed woman with steely resolve and a passion for delivering insights.

Week 4: Productionise and distribute

It’s show time!!  Much of your work is complete.  All that is left is to tighten up security.  Ensure your data is flowing nicely and set up some alerts and logs so you know what’s gone wrong as soon as it happens.

Ideally, the dashboard is 24/7 and can be accessed all the time.  But it’s still valuable to set up an automated notification system so that each user knows when there’s been an update.

Your job now is to monitor who views it, how often and on what device.  This will give you all the information you need for version 2 and beyond.

In Summary

With careful planning and crystal clear objectives, you can have a KPI dashboard up and running within 4 weeks.

The key is to plan early, share often and monitor how it’s used.

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