What it takes to build a digital dashboard for small business

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You take pains to make the most out of every dollar you earn. Do you have the same attitude for data?

Data that are used optimally for small businesses are great tools to help their owners come up with better decisions.

Digital reporting and performance dashboards can improve a business’ performance dramatically, but that’s only possible in your own situation if you use the right tools and strategies.

Here we will be taking up what it takes so that you can build an effective dashboard for your small business.

It’s easy to build a dashboard and a few questions to answer

Creating a dashboard for performance tracking is not difficult. There are plenty of free resources out there, which we will mention in the next sections.

There are a few questions that you need to answer though before deciding which type of dashboard fits your business best.

  • Who is your audience – It is important that you know who your dashboard’s viewers are. Also, what metrics matter to them?
  • What are the most important metrics – Not only that you determine your audience and the important metrics for them, but you also pinpoint the most important metrics for them.

The most important metrics should appear larger and on the top left hand corner of the dashboard.  That’s the primary part of the screen of your digital dash.

  • When thinking about the metrics to include, you also want to know to which these metrics should be compared.

If you are trying to compare current metrics to metrics with metrics from a different time period, all you need are simple numbers to appear on the dashboard screen where comparison results have already been indicated.

Metrics can also be compared with goals you want to achieve. You can do with a dashboard that shows a goal’s progress or a gauge measuring numerical progress.

Or are the metrics for the purpose of identifying trends. If this is the case, then you can have a line graph or two on your dashboard.

Lastly, column charts are best to use if you are trying to compare different numbers from different products or groups of people from the same period of time.

So the question is: Are you ready with your metrics? Have you already identified what’s important and the ones that are not so important?

If it is a complicated setup that you are after, then you can look for a dashboard app that can satisfy your requirements.

Some companies offer free dashboard report software use with limited days of usage. There are also those that have special services for startup businesses, which can be obtained in very affordable prices.

Some of the Good Options

On building a dashboard, you have several options, but again, you need to think hard about the purpose for which you are building it.

If your goal is to motivate your teams using key metrics, and to encourage them to take actions based on the data that will appear to them on their screens, there’s a good one for you. The Geckoboard system of creating and using dashboards can provide you the tools that you need.

Even for startups, it is possible that they need to drill down into data to do in-depth data analyses. If this is your need, then you can go for a BI tool like Domo or Tableau.

Another option you can look into is the charting frameworks that use JavaScript. You may check the Wikipedia information on that.

One that offers great visualization is Anychart. Check on them, too. The advantages that go with Anychart are that their system goes well with most available major platforms, it works fast and it is easy to operate. Another good thing with them is their system allows users to use data from any sources or warehouse.

How about a DIY option?

Obviously, there are always cheaper alternatives, such as coding and building a dashboard yourself, although it will take you more time to set it up. Also, the DIY option tends to drain resources when it comes to keeping data connections up-to-date over long periods of times.

However, a DIY may still be the best option to take if you are tech savvy, have limited financial resources and have the time to build a simple dashboard on your own.

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This is the best dashboard software for its price. One good thing we did was to hire their consulting services to build few dashboard prototypes and provide some quick dashboard training.
- Terry Seal, IL
We evaluated Xcelsius and Qlikview and the cost for organization to implement dashboards was quoted over 10,000 USD. For fraction of the above quoted price, we were able to buy the licenses for the web based dashboard software and get some free training. This is truly a dashboard software for small businesses like us.
IT Manager of a Trucking company, OH