As mentioned in our prior article on on dashboard development, framing the problem is a critical first step in your process, and one that will ultimately drive utilization and outcomes if done correctly.
It sounds simple, but it’s also equally important to outline and follow a project plan. Doing so will allow you to effectively organize your efforts, keep the project going, and ground you to core goals and objectives.
Goals should be your long-term expected outcomes for the project.
For example, perhaps you’re aiming to increase customer satisfaction or sales. From there, you can outline the tactical objectives that you believe will help to achieve these outcomes.
At a high level, these objectives could be to build the dashboard itself or increase the utilization of an existing one. These objectives are good starting points but should also then be decomposed into sub-elements and planned for and supported accordingly.
Concrete stepping stones to developing a dashboard might include acquiring the relevant data, highlighting initial insights, designing the front end, and creating a data pipeline to regularly ingest and update the data as new information becomes available.
Objectives for increasing usage might include scheduling training sessions for analysts or executives, conducting outreach, and presenting use cases.
Some useful questions to ask yourself when defining goals and objectives could include:
Once you have defined these objectives and goals, you can then lay the road map for how to proceed. As discussed in Designing Dashboards, a useful procedural framework for building a dashboard would be:
This outline is not set in stone. Certainly, some will prefer to build the back-end infrastructure for the dashboard before proceeding to design the front-end visual layout.
Whatever process you choose to follow, be sure to align your work to the goals and objectives you defined. While new insights are apt to surface and pull you in new directions, mapping out a project plan will help keep the project on track and aligned to your intended outcomes.
Mapping out project timelines is a fuzzy endeavor, as it can be hard to anticipate all of the nuances and challenges which will inevitably arise. That said, all projects are bound by time and resource constraints, so estimating these factors is essential to making an informed cost-benefit analysis of the work involved and benefits gained.
Determining where to allocate time and resources will also depend on project specifics as defined by your objectives and goals.
For example, a client-facing dashboard warrants additional focus on design and aesthetics. Similarly, a dashboard that is meant to serve live updates by the minute or second will require considerably more focus on back-end optimization than one which is updated weekly.
Of the project phases outlined above, the time required for data acquisition and exploration will likely have the most variation. You may already have data on hand and have a deep familiarity with it. Or, you may have no formal data and this is a completely new endeavor. If so, the acquisition phase will probably require some form of preprocessing, depending on where the data lives and how it is to be used.
No matter what, some form of data exploration is warranted. Focus on a minimal viable product, and which directions are most aligned with your overall goals.
In assessing these needs, here are some further questions to ask yourself in planning the various stages:
Similarly, building a database might be a routine endeavor, or require extensive design, depending on the scale and complexity of the information. No matter what, building an initial prototype and iterating is an advisable approach. Working through the full process will create a natural feedback cycle where you can assess strengths and shortcomings from end-users, allowing you to make informed decisions for how to update and improve your dashboard.
Outlining a project plan when creating a dashboard is essential to a productive and timely development process. While new obstacles and insights will surface during this process, this initial plan will ground you to tangible outcomes, helping to define project needs and direction. With this vision, you’re bound to have dashing results!
At Chisel Analytics, we are focused on helping organizations make headway with their information. From data engineering and acquisition, to advanced analytics and data science or machine learning implementations, or dashboard design and development, our teams can help you move forward — quickly. Our advisory and talent solutions can help you define your roadmap and build the team you need to move forward. Contact us today to start turning your data into action.
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