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The Dashboard Blueprint

Dashboard Spy Topic: Dashboard Blueprint: The 5 Questions Your Dashboard MUST Answer.

This excellent diagram comes from a great article from titled:

The Retail Business Intelligence Dashboard

Dashboard Blueprint

According to them, they’ve found that the “best” dashboards have their screen real estate dedicated to answering the following 5 questions:

What’s Going On? (The Operating Summary)
How Do We Stant? (Scorecard)
What Are Our Winners and Losers? (Top and Bottom Performers)
Where Should We Be Working? (Opportunities and Problems)
Where Are We Heading? (Trends)

Here’s an excerpt:

The operating summary: What’s going on?
At the top of the dashboard, in a prominent position, lies the performance summary in the user’s are of responsibility. The metrics here should be tailored to the individual’s preference. Typically, a retail BI user will want to see sales for the week, or week to date, compared to last year and plan. And they’ll want to see gross margin, again against plan and last year. Other metrics relate to the specific role and responsibility of the user. From this point your users will want to drill down to supporting details by store, by product group, by vendor, by customer type, etc.

Scorecard: How do we stand?
Good dashboard design usually includes a scoreboard which puts the operating results in context. The scorecard is a short table in rows and columns that answers the questions: How do I stand in relation to others, to history, and to plan? For example, if the dashboard is designed for district store managers, it will contain information summarizing the district’s performance in comparison to other districts. A buyer dashboard might summarize the buyer’s department along with other buyers in the group.

Scorecards are great to motivate excellence and effort. Within an area of responsibility, report cards are also very useful in showing the relative contribution of the component parts, compared to each other, to history, and to plan. The scorecard for district store managers would summarize stores. The buyer’s report card would summarize vendors. Planners’ dashboard would summarize assortments. Marketers would summarize customers.

Trends: Where are we headed?
Another valuable dashboard view is the display of important measures on a trend graph over time. When combined with solid planning discipline, the graph should not only show recent history but also the plan for the next few weeks. With a good trend graph, the user can quickly drill down to examine supporting elements.

Another good way to show trend, particularly for assortment planners, is to trend the relative contribution of key parts of the merchandise blend. Such a view will show quickly if inventories are balanced well with your shoppers’ demand. For example, if you are selling 60% women’s business wear, but your inventories are 40% women’s business wear, the trend will show if you are closing the gap over the last few weeks.

Top and bottom performers: what are our winners and losers?
A section of a powerful dashboard should be reserved for gaining perspective on your top and bottom performers based on the criteria selected for the user role, and personalized based on individual preference. For example, a planner might want to see the twenty style-colors based on sales volume and check-out percent. Another planner might want to see the top 20%. Another might want the top five.

Bottom performers are a tougher problem in retail. In slow weeks, you don’t want to beset your best people with exhaustive reports with low selling items. Everybody will know sales are slow. In such periods, the report should show the worst of the worst, and ones where early remedy action is possible. For example, bottom performers should be influenced by total inventory value and length of time in the stores.

Opportunities and recurring problems: Where should we be working?
A good dashboard would not be complete without indicators that show how many opportunities and recurring problems have been reported. Each user should be able to customize the type of exceptions that would be reported on the dashboard as well as the specific conditions that would trigger a notification. From here, the user should be able to drill into the detail of the exception so they can take action to improve the business. The latest business intelligence interfaces even allow for pre-defined analytical workflows which guide users step-by-step towards reaching actionable information for solving common retail problems and capitalizing on opportunities.

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