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10 Guidelines for KPI Dashboard Design

KPI Dashboard Designers must read this excellent guide to ensuring successful KPI and dashboard design from Klipfolio.

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1: Make sure they are important and related to the business – KPIs should be linked to strategic goals and be supported from the executive level through to departmental managers and individual employees. The KPIs have to drive the desired behaviour at the department and individual levels. Keep in mind KPIs are not only internally focused, but may be customer driven.

2: Make them actionable – Ensure that there is an owner that is accountable for each indicator who has the authority and necessary support to effect change or minimise impact. Establish accountability at the definition phase. It is not a good KPI if you are unable to take corrective action on one of your chosen KPIs.

3: They should be measured frequently – The frequency will vary on the KPI and may range from constantly, hourly, daily through to weekly monthly or even quarterly. KPIs that are only reviewed every month or quarter may be strategically important but are less critical to operational success.

4: Make them relevant to their audience – A dashboard provides relevance to its audience. Each department or individual should be provided with a view of the KPIs most relevant to their goals to focus their attention on what is most important for their jobs.

5: Keep dashboards simple, easy to interpret – Visual communication experts like Stephen Few have written extensively on how to properly design reports, charts, and graphs for quick and accurate consumption. Today, dashboard application have a myriad of visualisation options. It’s tempting, to get carried away with impressive graphical data, maps, speedometers etc. to represent performance against metrics “Hollywood style”. However, key information should be self evident and visible at all times so that exceptions can be seen and acted upon.

6: Provide context – Tracking actual performance against goals or historical averages gives insight to users and enables better decision management. The ability to alert users visually and provide drill-down views into the data provides insight and context on what corrective action may be required.

7: Education & communication – It is not enough to identify and provide visibility of KPIs. Users at all levels have to understand how they align with individual, departmental and strategic goals. Include education on the use of the dashboard application, the importance of the KPIs and how they align with strategic goals to new employees as part of the induction process.

8: The “K” in KPI stands for Key – It is important to determine if defined KPIs are really relevant to meeting strategic goals. All to often dashboards will adopt a if you can measure it, you should measure it approach where you end up looking at 20 or more competing KPIs. Are they the right metrics? Are there too many?

9: Return on investment – Following definition, ongoing measurement of KPIs can be a barrier to adoption if it is viewed as a time consuming manual process, the information is not trusted or readily available. KPI Dashboards automate the process; they enable business information to be acted upon and can be integrated into the workflow process, saving time. Improved decision making based on right time information rather than gut feel increases the productivity of individuals and departments .

10: Scope of deployment – Small pilot deployments should be used to work through definition, presentation and measurement of the selected KPI’s. Users will be advocates for adoption if they can see how the information improves their contribution to the strategic goals. Incremental steps, done really really well.

Written by Terry Brown of who is working on KPI Dashboards

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