It’s no secret the vast majority of modern companies are using business intelligence (BI) tools to stay competitive through making faster, data-informed decisions.

There’s no limit to the variety of BI dashboards available, meaning users at every level can benefit from clear visibility of relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). 

But with so many options, where do you begin? How do you know you’re making the best use of BI tools? Whether you’re creating a dashboard for your management, financial, or marketing team, how do you know your dashboard is presenting the right information to the right people?

Below are some effective examples from a variety of industries that will demonstrate the versatility and story-telling ability of these analytics tools and some best practices for maximising their potential.

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Trevor provides the best BI dashboards for all types of businesses across multiple industries. 

Want to see if Trevor.io would work for your team? Try it free for 2 weeks!

Why do you want to use a BI dashboard?

From the leanest startups to the Fortune 500, every company has an ever-growing stockpile of information: client demographics, sales reports, quarterly earnings, human resource statistics, etc. You need it to help you make informed decisions but for it to be useful, it must be accessible and understandable. Relying solely on data analysts creates a bottleneck that slows you down.

The data is there. Let everyone use it so they can be more effective in their work. 

Visualising data makes it easier to see trends. And with growing access to self-service features, it’s never been easier to access powerful business intelligence for your company. 

Doing so creates a culture that empowers everyone from your newest hire to most senior executive. And when your people feel empowered, they: 

  • Take ownership of their roles and feel more pride in their work
  • Have the chance to provide insights that contribute to your organisation’s goals
  • Make better decisions at every level, which means better overall results.

Widely accessible BI dashboards increase your business’s overall efficiency. When data analytics are readily available as eye-catching charts and graphs, your sales team will spend more time executing strategic goals based on actionable insights and less time sorting columns in a spreadsheet.

How everyone else is using dashboards for BI 

One area in which BI dashboards excel is the simplification of data for non-technical users.

There has also been a revolution in both cloud-based storage and on-premise business intelligence options making this technology accessible to everyone. 

Visualising data makes it easier to understand. The ability of BI dashboards to do this with live data is the key to their utility. Gone are the days when a company would want a gatekeeper controlling access to the data warehouse.

You can use a template or create custom dashboard designs to fulfil just about any purpose imaginable. Some organisations use them to display analyses of customer data, like purchase habits and geographic locations. Others use them to track inventory stocks and movements along their supply chain. Others track assets, liabilities, and longitudinal financial KPIs the CEO can use to develop a long-term strategic direction.

Whatever the end goal is, there is one thing they all have in common. A good dashboard has a very specific audience and purpose in mind. It organises and manipulates data so that audience can take action. Ideally, it tells a story that makes sense. 

5 Brilliant BI dashboard examples

Server Status Report Dashboard

A dashboard from Trevor.io which displays the status of their servers and reports of user activity.
Trevor.io demonstrates how to effectively use two different data sets to tell a story that will lead to actionable insights for their teams.

This dashboard design displays historic data points for Trevor’s engineering and DevOps teams. At a glance, they can see how much pressure servers were under at any given moment and if any of them experienced any downtime. The choice of colour makes the different events very clear.

It also keeps a record of what error messages users have received so the teams can quickly drill down into what behaviours may have been causing issues. It’s a great example of using multiple data sources to tell a story that can create actionable insights. In this case, the teams can make note of patterns and use the information to correct issues before they reoccur. 

Healthcare Supply Dashboard

A BI dashboard from the healthcare industry with information on hospital PPE supply levels.
From the healthcare industry, this BI dashboard has both real-time and historical data on personal protective equipment. Source: https://appsource.microsoft.com/en-CA/product/power-bi/powerapps_cxo.powerbi_healthcare?tab=overview

From the healthcare industry, this tactical BI dashboard example is a great example of a BI dashboard used for a very specific and solitary purpose. In this case, it’s to save lives. Having adequate access to proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is a necessity. Otherwise, infections could spread between nurses and at-risk patients. 

With this dashboard, nursing staff can see at a glance how many days worth of PPE they have on hand broken down by location. 

This means, if one hospital is facing a shortage, they can quickly make note of others that can stand to transfer supplies. In the fast-paced healthcare industry, every moment counts. The less time staff spend worrying about supply shortages, the more time they have to focus on patient care. 

University Demographics Dashboard

Educational institution student enrollment and demographic dashboard.
This educational institution dashboard makes effective use of white space. Source: https://www.inetsoft.com/evaluate/bi_visualization_gallery/page.jsp?dbIdx=109

This analytics dashboard is designed for administrators of a university. It shows them various metrics about the student population. 

They can see and track yearly breakdowns of the percentage of students studying in different fields like History, Finance, Business Management, and Liberal Arts. They can also see enrollment and admission numbers, and the student retention rate. Lastly, they’re tracking the ratios of gender, racial groups, and international students. All of this helps in making decisions about funding allocations and the creation of stakeholder reports.

The positioning and relative size of the data points demonstrate that there is also clear priority given to the applications, admission rate, total enrollment, and retention rate fields. 

Financial Status Dashboard

A Financial KPI dashboard.
This Financial KPI dashboard uses a clear hierarchy of data with an effective and subtle colour scheme to draw attention to the places it needs to be. Source: https://www.finereport.com/en/financial-dashboards

Here is a strategic dashboard that collects and monitors the overall financial health of an organisation. 

The CFO or other member of the leadership team can use this to see an overview of business performance with valuable information on critical KPIs like cash flow ratio, assets versus liabilities, a historical view of the vendor payment error rate and a quarterly-updated look at liquidity ratio. They can also dig deeper into inventory asset value, and debt on hand.

Taken together, these metrics grant valuable insight into an organisation’s financial health and can lead to quicker business decisions and improved productivity. The information is organized first to draw the eye to the broad, over-arching datasets while leaving room for a deeper dive into specifics.

Human Resources Dashboard

A BI dashboard with a wide variety of Human Resources data
This example showcases a huge diversity of data points while still maintaining a clean, easy-to-understand layout. Source: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/partner-showcase/agile-analytics-hr-analytics/

This interactive tactical dashboard for a human resources department demonstrates a fantastic use of a wide variety of demographics data that is both up to the minute and able to be manipulated to display data from various periods.

This allows for the invaluable work of maintaining diversity within the organisation when hiring new employees. Also, the HR manager is given a visual representation of important metrics like the number of leave days taken and the number of terminations versus the number of new hires. 

There is a clear hierarchy of information and the use of colour draws the eye to the most pertinent data. The ability to cycle through data by month and year lets the end-user track changes over time. 

Related Post: 12 Powerful BI Dashboard Features for Successful Decision-Making

7 Best practices for using BI dashboards

Here are some best practices for creating or using a business intelligence dashboard:

  • Familiarise yourself with the four broad types of BI dashboards (link to J1) of business intelligence dashboards (strategic, operational, analytical, tactical) and know how each is meant to be used.
  • Think about the context. Who is this dashboard for and what information do they need to properly do their job? Will it be an analytics dashboard for your human resources team or will it display the latest social media metrics for your online marketing campaign? 
  • Your information must be understandable. Use colour and the order of your data to focus your audience’s attention and craft a story. But be careful not to create clutter. Sometimes, a simple number counter and some white space are all you need.
  • Emphasise your most important KPIs through visual positioning and size. When looking at an image on a screen, the human eye tends to follow a Z-pattern from the top left to the bottom right. This means, your most important data should start at the top and from there you work your way down. Also, use the rule of thirds to create a pleasing visual layout.
  • To build beautiful dashboards, display targets and goals in contrasting colours so users can identify where they may be falling short. The classic choice for this is a bright red.
  • Keep it as simple as possible. It is far too easy to create a dashboard that is overcrowded with visuals. The goal is to have only as much information as your audience will need to develop actionable insights.
  • Allow for interactivity. Let your users manipulate the data to suit their needs. 

How to create a BI dashboard 

  1. Choose between cloud-based or on-premise dashboard software 
  2. Import your data into the dashboard program.
  3. Next, decide on a hierarchy for it, with your most important KPIs at the top
  4. Choose the appropriate visualisation for each data point
    1. Use a pie chart for categorical data (or a bar chart if you have > 5 categories).
    2. Line/area chart for continuous nominal data.
    3. Bar chart or histogram for discrete nominal data.
    4. Scatter plot, bubble or line charts for showing relationships between values.
    5. Show trends and patterns with line charts, bar charts or scatter plots.
  5. Colour code your charts to further highlight important points while leaving white space to help differentiate sections. This will make the information clearer and more accessible for your users. 

Related Post: 6 Affordable Alternatives to Geckoboard That’ll Take Your BI Dashboards to the Next Level

Where do BI dashboards fit into your business?

Organisations have access to a staggering amount of data and the amount is only going to increase. That means, to stay competitive, you need a solution to help make sense of it all.

Modern business intelligence dashboards are cost-effective and invaluable for their ability to increase efficiency and unify your teams and processes. They organise your data and create effective workflows that work for you and your business. 

With the intelligent application of BI dashboard technology, sales managers can track total sales and see how pricing affects the lifecycle of a product in real-time. Decision-makers can spend less time waiting for the information they need and more time making decisions. Business users of all sizes can track e-commerce KPIs or any other metric. Utilising the powerful visualisations of dashboards makes for better business choices. 

We are living in a global marketplace and that means you need every single edge you can get to compete. Every team in your organisation can increase efficiency and stay focused on their goals when they have better information. 

Every employee can benefit from better information with which to do their job and when they benefit, so does your business.

Trevor provides the best BI dashboards for all types of businesses across multiple industries. Want to see if Trevor.io would work for your team? Try it free for 2 weeks!

Frequently Asked Questions about business intelligence dashboards

What is a business intelligence (BI) dashboard?

A BI dashboard is a broad category of tools used for organising information for data analysis. Often, they are used to visualise KPIs to aid in decision-making. Though they are not limited to this. They use charts, graphs, and other graphics to tell a story that raw data is incapable of telling.

How do you create a BI dashboard?

There are many templates available or you can also create your own. It’s as simple as importing your data, formatting it, and choosing a visualisation for each set. They are also capable of real-time updating so the end-user always has the best information.

What are some examples of data dashboards?

Some common dashboards types include Financial KPI dashboard, Digital Marketing dashboard, Recruitment dashboard, Web Analytics dashboard, Sales Activity dashboard, Executive Marketing dashboard, Pricing and Supply dashboard, Email Marketing Campaign Performance dashboard, Social Media Command Centre dashboard and Customer Retention dashboard. The possibilities are almost endless!

What should be included in a BI dashboard?

The answer to that question depends on the specific purpose of the dashboard. But often they will include data tables, data filters, text-boxes, and data visualisations. All of which must point to metrics that are clear and actionable.