Depending on the nature of your work and the intended audience, the business metrics you include on your dashboard will vary. To help you determine which metrics to include, we have created the following list of best practices for defining business dashboard metrics: 

1. Make sure metrics are important to the business user. 

In order for dashboard users to find value in your dashboard, make sure that the metrics included are important to them. What does your audience need to know and how much detail will they need are two questions you should ask yourself when defining business dashboard metrics. Providing the most relevant metrics to your audience will make a huge difference in whether they use it.  

2. Include metrics that are actionable.

Actionable metrics are metrics that are tied to repeatable tasks and specific strategic goals. If the metrics you include on your dashboard cannot be improved then you shouldn’t be spending your effort on them. The purpose of a dashboard is to help improve key performance against specific goals. And including metrics that help in this process is essential.    

3. Metrics should be measured frequently. 

Dashboard metrics should be measured frequently to provide the user with the most up-to-date information. Part of the effectiveness of dashboards is that they provide real-time access to key insights. Determine how often your audience will need the information included on your dashboard, and make sure the data is updated accordingly.

4. Use formatting to make the metrics easy to interpret. 

One common mistake people make when building business dashboards is to include a variety of colors and different types of graphs, charts, and gauges. This makes the dashboard seem cluttered and difficult to interpret. Instead, keep your dashboard as simple as possible and use color sparingly, to help the user understand the data.     

5. Provide context by alerting users visually and then including a drill down if needed. 

To ensure your dashboard is actionable, provide a high-level metric and then include supporting metrics so that the user may identify cause. This context will help make your dashboard actionable for the user.  

6. Ensure users of every level know individual, departmental, and strategic goals.

Dashboards are important to provide insight on how performance is measuring up to strategic goals. But if the user doesn’t know what their individual, department, or company goals are, then the dashboards will be of little help to them. Make sure everyone is aware of the goals, and how the dashboard can help them achieve those goals.

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