Travel 28th May 2020 - 4 min read

How to make dashboards work for you

By Joni Lindes

At PredictX, we deliver data to clients in dashboards with intuitive interfaces showing data that is accurate and custom-built around our customer’s needs. Dashboards are an easy way to see all your data in one place and drill down to the metrics that matter.

dashboard

Even so, dashboards have their limitations. Having a dashboard with all the data you need does not necessarily mean that the data will lead to the required action in your company. The information may be there but it is all about how you use it. We have compiled a list of handy techniques that our clients have used to make their dashboards go further – leading to improvement across their company.

1. Measure the right metrics

A dashboard is supposed to measure data on meaningful metrics so the first step would be to define what is meaningful to your company. Each user has different expectations of the metrics they want to see. What may be important to travel managers, for example, may not necessarily be important to finance leaders. Make sure to engage with stakeholders to find out what matters most to them before building your dashboard.

2. Customize dashboards for different users

Once we know what matters to each stakeholder, we can look at customizing dashboards further. The most common problem with dashboards is that many users access them and can’t get to the information they need without introducing many filters and squinting through rows of numbers. If you are busy and don’t have the training to do this, it can put stakeholders off from engaging with the data in the first place.

This doesn’t necessarily mean we need to build a dashboard for each user. We can add automation rules so different users get customized reports emailed to them with the metrics they want to see. They can then open a link to the dashboard with the filters and drill-downs in place, so they only see what they care about. 

3. Make sure your data tells a story

Human brains are not designed to look at large rows of numbers to derive meaning. According to cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner, we are 22 times more likely to remember a fact when it has been wrapped in a story.

“A key aspect of human development is the ability to pass on history. Storytelling is, in essence, the campfires over dinner where our ancestors told the story of the tribe. Learning from our ancestors is how we share our skills across generations. It is fundamental to the human condition and is as important today in business as it has been throughout history,” said our CEO Keesup Choe.

This is why, in data, we cannot ignore the power of how we present it. Each data point needs context to make it meaningful. For example, in an air market share report, we don’t just look at spend by carrier, we look at the percentage of spend we have with each carrier measured against all air spend. We look at segments and how our spend compares to previous years. We can also benchmark it against the market. “Spend with British Airways is X” is not that memorable. “Spend with British Airways is up by 17% from last year” is a bit more compelling as there is some context surrounding it 

Once we have context the next step is to present and visualize the data so it is easy to understand. We can do this through charts, graphs, infographics and texts. This makes the data more engaging.

4. Distribute dashboard data through reports and alerts

Data is meaningless if it is not acted upon. The most limiting part of dashboards is that they are static – sitting in a software application and only accessed once logging in. Company stakeholders are busy and have many responsibilities.  Logging in to a dashboard is not always top of their mind. 

Ensure your data is always seen and can drive action by using automation software, rules and processes. This can be in the form of a custom report emailed to department heads each month drawing attention to their department spend and how they compare to the rest of the organization, or it can be an alert if an out of policy trip is booked through unofficial channels. 

5. Tie insight to action and measure it

Data is nothing without action. Ensure data is communicated timeously enough so stakeholders can act and implement change. We do not want to “analyse and fix” the past, but rather, to “predict and prevent” the future. Timely data communicated through the right automation can make this happen. 

Our data also needs to be optimized to measure the results of an action. If a department has launched a new demand management initiative as a result of previous data, make sure the outcomes of this is measured. 

Out of a need to help our clients communicate data more effectively we developed a product called “The Story” where we send automated reports to each department head with metrics and KPIs geared towards that department. This product, The Story, won a “highly commended” honor at the Business Travel Awards 2020. 

We still continue to value effective data storytelling so our dashboards and customized and more effective. We have recently launched our “Scorecard” feature which includes custom dashboards with the metrics and KPis that matters most for each department.

If you want to know more about how you can make your dashboards go further, book a demo with us.

Joni Lindes
By Joni Lindes
4 min read

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