8 Simple Steps for Creating a Successful Dashboard (Part 1): An Overview

  • by Ingo Hilgefort, Vice President of Product Management, Visual BI Solutions
  • July 21, 2016
Increasingly, business users are requesting that dashboard designers provide compelling data visualizations that outline the overall situation of a company, while at the same time demanding that this be done more quickly. This leaves less time to gather the requirements, come up with the correct data, and develop a great design. Learn how to streamline the process of creating a dashboard by taking a nimbler approach to solving these issues.
Learning Objectives

By reading this article, you will learn:

  • About the eight steps for building a new dashboard
  • Why a new approach to dashboard design is needed (e.g., the limitations of the typical approach to creating a new dashboard)
  • The issues to be avoided when building dashboards
  • The details about this new approach
Key Concept
The classic waterfall approach to projects—where requirements are gathered, the concept for the dashboard is developed, and then the final result is presented to stakeholders—is no longer the optimal approach. Today’s fast-moving world demands quicker and more accurate delivery of results. Using the older approach often led to failed projects as requirements were miscommunicated or not understood. A new approach, using elements from Agile and Scrum combined with elements from Design Thinking, offer a more flexible and iterative method for gathering feedback frequently, to ensure that all project requirements are identified and met. In this collaborative style, business users are deeply involved in the design process from the outset. They have the opportunity to articulate business problems and work together on solutions to help design more successful dashboards and also shorten the overall development timeframe.

If you are currently in a role where you are responsible for the BI deliverables for your company or are part of the team responsible for this task, then you probably noticed that your business-user audience is increasingly asking for more for visual content, and they want it more quickly. The traditional waterfall approach for creating dashboards is no longer appropriate, and there is more focus on gathering the right requirements from your business users at the outset to ensure that you are delivering the right content.

In this article I first take a look at a new approach for delivering the needed requirements and discuss some common problems with the current approaches. In the next two articles in this three-part series, I will discuss the details of each of the eight steps in the dashboard development process.

First, let’s take a look at the overall process for building a dashboard.

There are eight simple steps to creating a successful dashboard. In brief, they are:

  1. Observe and understand
  2. Define
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Design
  6. Roll out
  7. Training
  8. Documentation

Ingo Hilgefort

Ingo Hilgefort started his career in 1999 with Seagate Software/Crystal Decisions as a trainer and consultant. He moved to Walldorf for Crystal Decisions at the end of 2000, and worked with the SAP NetWeaver BW development team integrating Crystal Reports with SAP NetWeaver BW. He then relocated to Vancouver in 2004, and worked as a product manager/program manager (in engineering) on the integration of BusinessObjects products with SAP products. Ingo's focus is now on the integration of the SAP BusinessObjects BI suite with  SAP landscapes, such as SAP BW and SAP BW on SAP HANA, focusing on end-to-end integration scenarios. In addition to his experience as a product manager and in his engineering roles, Ingo has been involved in architecting and delivering deployments of SAP BusinessObjects software in combination with SAP software for a number of global customers, and has been recognized by the SAP Community as an SAP Mentor for SAP BusinessObjects- and SAP integration-related topics. Currently, Ingo is the Vice President of Product Management and Product Strategy at Visual BI Solutions, working on extensions to SAP’s product offering such as SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio and SAP Lumira. You may follow him on Twitter at @ihilgefort.

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