The 6 C’s of Decision-Oriented Dashboards

View of a major city from the pilot's seat of an airplane.

Every company uses data to measure success, whether it’s daily, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Where organizations can differentiate themselves is in how they manage those metrics.  With the amount of data to report on constantly increasing, it can be difficult to establish a clear purpose and understand the information architecture. In a recent webinar for PR Club (Tier One is a member), Trust Insights Chief Data Scientist Chris Penn shared his dashboard organizational insights.

 When developing a dashboard, think of it like data storytelling. The goal of the story is to provide value and help stakeholders, clients, CMOs, etc., make an informed decision. Ask yourself these three questions: 

  1. What happened? 
  2. So what? 
  3. Now what? 

Your dashboard should be 25% “what happened,” 25% “so what,” and 50% “now what.” Say your media coverage increased by 10% – that’s the “what happened.” So what, did that 10% increase result in new business or sales? Now what’s your recommendation? Perhaps it’s to pitch similar media or run retargeting ads. 

Dashboards are a reflection of your success and can have serious financial impact on your organization. To represent your achievements in the best light, follow these six tips from Chris Penn to create a reliable dashboard:

  • Clear: Be cognizant of the  type of data visualizations you choose to communicate varying messages. There are four types of visualizations: distribution, relationship, composition, and comparison. Barcharts, scatter plots, line graphs, and pie charts are all visualizations that tell different stories. Select your visualization based on your story.
  • Clean: Resist the temptation to make your dashboard look cool. Highlight your KPIs and keep it simple. 
  • Complete: Convey the important information — ROI, what’s driving goal completions, and why.
  • Concise: Remember, keep it simple. Don’t add data just to fill white space.
  • Cited: Explain data sources, authorship, and methodology. 
  • Conclusive: Recommend a course of action. Help your audience make a decision from the data.

It takes time and iteration to build a strong dashboard. If your target audience walks away with valuable insights on what their next steps should be, you have a decision-making dashboard. After all, dashboards without decisions are decoration. 

A version of this post originally appeared on the PR Club blog.


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