What Are 3 Types Of Dashboard And How To Select The Right One?

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As businesses and organizations are getting more data-driven, having a dashboard is getting pretty common. But what exactly is a dashboard and what are its types? How do you select the right type of dashboard for your requirements?

This article answers all these questions so let’s get straight into it.

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Types of data dashboards

What is a Dashboard?

A dashboard is a tool that displays real-time analytics through data visualization all in one place. This helps businesses in making decisions and provides instant data that the user requires.

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The analytics and stats that a dashboard represents are based on the data you put in. If the data isn’t accurate the results on the dashboard won’t be correct as well.

Example: Dashboard of Google Analytics or Google Ads

What is a dashboard and what are its types

How do dashboards work and how often they’re updated?

Let’s get an overview of how dashboards work.

A dashboard is linked to a database from where it collects the data. Once it receives the data it organizes it and displays it in the form of charts and graphs. A good dashboard displays the data in a way that’s easily understood by the end user. And this is done by data visualization.

Now let’s see how often a dashboard is updated. This depends on the type of dashboard and how frequently the database is updated. We mentioned the Google Analytics dashboard above, it shows you the real-time data as it’s updated every minute.

3 Types of dashboards:

There are 3 types of data dashboards and identifying the right type for your business or stakeholders is crucial. Why? Because once you identify the type, you know the purpose of it and you know what you’ve to create.

This division is based on the purpose of the dashboard and the data it shows.

1.   Operational dashboards:

This is the most common type of dashboard we see and most of us use it every day.

An operational dashboard tells you what is happening right now in real-time. This means it updates very frequently, often every minute or two. These dashboards don’t require manual input of data, they automatically gather it from the database. Because no one has the time to update it every minute 

Usually, these types of dashboards are required for tracking website performance, marketing metrics, sales and audience behaviour.

User: The end users of these dashboards are common people like sales and marketing teams and operational managers. 

Example: Google Analytics, Google Ads, and all the social media dashboards are examples of operational dashboards.

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2.   Strategic dashboards:

Strategic dashboards track KPIs (key performance indicators). It’s less frequently updated than operational dashboards and it shows you the data over a certain time period like a week or a month.

As this dashboard allows you to track KPIs it helps organizations and businesses to make decisions. Not small decisions but big strategic decisions like changing a whole business or sales strategy.

Users: Executive members, CEO, vice-president and members with the power of making big decisions.

3 types of dashboards

Example: Let’s say an organization wants to control their expenses. Assume their KPIs are buying limited stock and decreasing the manufacturing cost. Their strategic dashboard will have these 2 main metrics to track how well the organization is doing to achieve their target.

Unlike the operational dashboard, the end user will not visit this dashboard daily. It’ll be visited weekly or monthly and that’s why it’s not updated so frequently.

3.   Analytical dashboards:

The analytical dashboard processes a huge amount of historic data. It shows you the trends and patterns over a certain time period. It’s also used in making predictions based on historic trends.

The analytical dashboard doesn’t require real-time data and is the least frequently updated among all 3 dashboard types.

User: Analyst

Example: A dashboard showing sales trends over the past 3 years or a dashboard showing the number of cancer patients over 5 to 6 years.

How to choose the right type of dashboard?

Choosing the right type of dashboard that meets your requirements is crucial.

Ask yourself, why in the first place we need a dashboard? What problem we’re trying to solve with it? What metrics do we want to track?

In short, you need to find the purpose of creating a dashboard. Also, consider who the end user is. Once you know this you can easily categorize it into one of the 3 types.

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Static Vs Dynamic dashboards:

There are 2 more types of dashboards according to the design. It’s static and dynamic.

Whether your dashboard is operational, strategic or analytical it can still be either static or dynamic.

1.   Static dashboard:

A static dashboard has the same interface and appearance for everyone. Different users can’t adjust it according to them.

2.   Dynamic dashboard:

It’s also called an interactive dashboard as you can adjust it for different users. The same dashboard, presenting the same data will have a different interface and appearance for different users.

For example, you create a dashboard that displays the same data differently to the sales team and the marketing team. This is done to make the dashboard more specific to that person or team. 

7 Benefits of a dashboard:

You now know what a dashboard is and what are its types but why do businesses even need one? What are its benefits? Let’s have a quick look at that.

1.   Gives quick information:

It gives you the required information instantly at a glance. This helps in making quick decisions.

2.   All in one:

Dashboards show various metrics on one screen and hence you don’t have to look here and there. Everything is well presented in one place. 

3.   Access it on mobile:

Dashboards can be customized for mobile devices. This allows you to access the data anytime and anywhere.

4.   They’re customizable:

You can customize the interface of the same dashboard for different users. It’ll still present the same information but in a different way.

5.   Saves time:

A dashboard saves you time by compiling everything in one place. Moreover, the data visualization further makes things quicker as you can understand the information at a glance.

6.   Empower end users:

To understand the data presented on a dashboard you don’t need an expert analyst. Anyone in the organization can understand it, especially the actual users. Dashboards are designed keeping the user in mind.

7.   Empower data-driven culture:

The journey of incorporating data in business or in an organization often starts with a dashboard. Gradually people start trusting the data and include it more in their decisions which creates a data-driven organization.

5 Best software for creating a dashboard:

Here’s a list of the 5 most popular software and tools used for creating dashboards.

  1. Tableau
  2. Microsoft Power BI
  3. Zoho
  4. IBM
  5. Yellowfin

Frequently asked questions:

1.   What are the components of a dashboard?

The major component of dashboards is data visualization. Everything included in it like bar charts, graphs, pyramid charts and pie charts are components of data dashboards.

A dashboard can have up to 20 such components.

2.   What is the main purpose of a dashboard?

The main and general purpose of a data dashboard is to present the information visually in one place that’s understandable at a glance.

Now different dashboard types can serve different purposes like an operational dashboard is used for real-time monitoring. The analytical dashboard shows trends and is used for making predictions. The strategic dashboard helps in making strategies and in tracking their performance. 

3.   Why do most dashboards fail?

There are a lot of reasons why a dashboard fails but the most common is putting the wrong data. If you feed low-quality or irrelevant data it’s definitely going to give you the wrong information. Make sure to put high-quality and accurate data.

4.   What is the difference between a report and a dashboard?

A dashboard lets you monitor the real-time situation as it updates continuously while reports are static. They give you the information on what’s happening now but you can’t monitor those metrics. You’ll need a new report to know those metrics an hour or a day later.

5.   Can you create a dashboard in excel?

Yes, you can create a simple dashboard in excel. However, excel isn’t a dashboard tool or software so you can’t make a complex dashboard with it.

In a nutshell:

Dashboards are a tool that lets you monitor the desired metrics in real time. It uses data visualization to make it interactive and easy to understand. Based on the purpose, dashboards are of 3 types

  • Operational dashboard: Tells you what’s happening in real-time
  • Strategic dashboard: Lets you monitor your KPIs
  • Analytical dashboard: Presents historic data to find trends.

To know the right dashboard type for your business, consider the purpose and the user.

We have 2 more types of dashboards based on the design and that’s static and dynamic dashboards. Static dashboards have the same interface for everyone while a dynamic or interactive dashboard is customizable for different viewers.

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Published by Rahul Bhattacharya

Rahul is a journalist with expertise in researching a variety of topics and writing engaging contents. He is also a data analyst and an expert in visualizing business scenarios using data science. Rahul is skilled in a number of programming languages and data analysis tools. When he is not busy writing, Rahul can be found somewhere in the Appalachian trails or in an ethnic restaurant in Chicago.

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