A dashboard is a simple view of product metrics that displays information about the general health and viability of the product.
A dashboard is a simple view of product metrics that displays information about the general health and viability of the product. While more detailed metrics are generally used to analyze the results of a specific feature-level experiment, a dashboard can indicate when complex factors are affecting the product. For example, competitor behaviors, seasonality, or multiple conflicting experiments are all potential factors.
In situations where there is great uncertainty, planning for the future has less value than having a clear picture of the current status. Dashboards give you a visual "information radiator" that shows the exact current status on key metrics affecting operations:
Dashboards help visualize inter-relationships among parts of a business. For example, a $10k investment in a channel may seem like a lot of money, unless you knew that last year's revenue was $250k.
Dashboards are inherently motivating. They presuppose an open and data-driven culture. For many employees and partners, this level of trust and transparency motivates them to do their best work. By going through the effort of choosing one or a handful of key metrics for the whole organization, you generate a lot of focus. Dashboards help maintain this focus operationally if everyone continually checks a dashboard that contains those key metrics driving the business.
This technique can be used for:
In terms of how it works, it can be anywhere from "manually using a spreadsheet" to a custom-built monitoring system that integrates a number of the business systems so that you have a "real-time view" of the company.
Approaches that may or may not be helpful:
This method tends to require a significant investment of thought to decide what needs to be on each dashboard (1-5 days). The implementation of the dashboard itself can vary widely. If done manually, it could cost one hour a week of a junior employee's time. If automated, there would be no recurring cost, but instead a potentially significant up-front technical implementation cost. The actual cost would vary widely based on exactly which systems and data need to be visualized. There are also off-the-shelf SaaS solutions that can provide a sufficient subset of the data required to reap most of the benefits in a small company, without bearing a significant cost.
Possible resources include:
Dashboard colors, shapes (traffic light), and status icons help you quickly interpret the reported data. The size of each dashboard component should also reflect the importance of the particular data point.