Analytics

Dashboard Reporting: What It Is, Why It Matters, Best Practices, and More

Use dashboard reporting to improve your results within available resources, without spending hours creating reports or exceeding your budget.

Stefana Zaric Stefana Zaric on June 10, 2022 (last modified on June 6, 2022) • 18 minute read

Are you looking for an easy way to monitor your KPIs so you can react timely to grab an opportunity or solve a problem?

Would you like to save time while tracking and analyzing your metrics and set up an efficient reporting process?

Do you struggle with integrations and want to know what the best practices in your industry are?

If you’re nodding your head right now, we got you covered. Growing your business isn’t easy, especially when you have little time and a lot to learn. It’s stressful to manage everything you have on your plate, but it’s where dashboard reporting steps in.

While overcoming the obstacles such as the lack of staff and limited time to acquire new skills, dashboard reporting helps you gain important insight into your business performance and build strategies to perform better or keep up the momentum.

This guide will walk you through all you need to know about dashboard reporting: benefits, types, best practices, examples, and more.

marketing_overview_hubspot_ga_dashboard_databox

What is Dashboard Reporting?

Dashboard reporting refers to the process of monitoring and reporting on your business performance through data visualizations, based on the KPIs and metrics that you’ve selected as relevant.

Dashboard reporting allows you to track your performance in real-time and gives you an opportunity to react and make changes immediately if necessary, for instance, if you notice an ad campaign is wasting your budget without a decent ROI or that your churn rate is too high.

Dashboard reporting usually includes different types of charts, tables, graphs, maps, and more.

What is a Dashboard Report?

A dashboard report is an interactive visual representation of your essential business data that allows you to quickly gather vital information about your business, financial, sales, marketing, or other performance and choose what action to take.

Dashboard reports provide you with information at a glance and are often centralized, which means that you can pull the data from different sources and interpret it more accurately, just by looking at a single screen.

Dashboard vs Report: What’s the Difference?

Although dashboards and reports have several aspects in common, the data they represent differs. Here’s how.

  1. Reports are static, which means they can only display historical data. You can include several snapshots of your data in a report, but you can’t refresh them to get a glance of the most recent changes in your chart. Dashboards, on the other hand, include live, up-to-date information.
  2. Dashboards usually tend to display all relevant data, charts, and tables in one screen and give you a more streamlined overview of your performance. To read the whole report and capture all the data included, you need to scroll.
  3. Reports usually cover a specific topic, while dashboards may include more broad information and allow you to compare multiple charts, data sets, topics, and more.
  4. Reports are typically longer and more thorough than dashboards and provide the reader with more granular information about the performance.

Dashboard Reporting Types

There are several types of reporting dashboards available–you choose one depending on your needs and goals:

Analytical Dashboards

Analytical dashboards are the essential tool for data analysts to draw conclusions about your business performance. They usually contain a lot of data digested into simple visualizations so they’re easier to interpret.

The main focus of analytical dashboards is on the historical data, so that the data analyst can make comparisons, which is one of the most effective tools of data science.

By interpreting data contained in an analytical dashboard, you can identify trends in your business or industry, change dimensions and variables to test if your performance will improve, make predictions about future performance, and more.

Related: How to Make an Analytical Report: 9 Best Practices

Strategic Dashboards

Strategic dashboards help companies monitor their overall strategy performance. These dashboards include KPIs and metrics and enable management and teams to monitor whether they’re on the right track when it comes to progress toward long-term company goals.

A strategic dashboard contains metrics that are relevant on a company-wide level and may be complex.

Business leadership and senior management usually track strategic dashboards to gain important business insights that may affect all teams and evaluate business performance in periods: monthly, quarterly, annually.

Related: What Is Strategic Reporting? 4 Report Examples to Get Inspiration From

Operational Dashboards

Operational dashboards are used to monitor business operations managed by junior-level management and they’re focused on short-term goals and performance. It presents the real-time data and helps managers answer the question: “What’s going on in my team/our business at the moment?”

Operational dashboards, unlike strategic ones, are very detailed and focus on day-to-day business operations. They provide you with an at-a-glance overview of your daily performance.

Also, managers can draw conclusions by just looking at these dashboards, without having to drill-down into too many details.

Related: 10 Key Operational Metrics to Track for Better Business Results

Tactical Dashboards

Tactical dashboards enable you to drill down into more detailed data to identify a trend and get more information about it.

By tracking data through tactical dashboards and getting deeper insights, you can make more informed decisions, adapt your future steps based on the trend you track, and measure your success against the goals you’ve set.

Many departments within a business may benefit from using a tactical dashboard. For example, sales, so you can find the best time to launch a specific product, or HR, so you may use the dashboard to implement a new employee benefit plan and measure how it affects employee happiness.

Benefits of Dashboard Reporting

In a Databox survey, the majority of agency respondents said they used dashboard reporting for their Facebook ad campaigns. Nevertheless, dashboard reporting can be used in multiple situations–not just for advertising purposes–and offers multiple benefits to your business.

Dashboard Reporting Saves Time

It provides an at-a-glance overview of your data, which is a significant time-saver when you work with multiple KPIs and complex data and need to draw conclusions quickly. Also, dashboards allow you to create templates and automatically pull the data from the connected sources, so you don’t have to enter anything manually.

Dashboard Reporting Supports Decision Making

It helps make informed business decisions based on data without delays in the process, as you don’t need to wait for the report to be created to be able to act. Creating a dashboard and tracking the data in it is way faster than pulling the data for a report and waiting for it to be created, so dashboards can be helpful when you need to act quickly.

Dashboard Reporting Improves Data Literacy

It improves data literacy in data-driven companies, which helps the whole organization understand the data and gain insights, regardless of their skill level. Many of your teammates don’t need to be data analysts to be able to track relevant KPIs and draw conclusions on their own.

Dashboard Reporting Allows a Deep Dive into the Data

It helps you get the most out of your data as it’s easy to let something slip when you work with large quantities of data every day. Analyzing the data, drawing applicable conclusions, and creating lists of recommended steps takes a lot of time and effort, so it’s important to dig deep to understand different trends and issues.

Dashboard Reporting Helps You Get Necessary Buy-In

It provides clear, understandable, concise visualization of the data, which is incredibly useful in situations where you have to present your findings to executives or managers, especially if they’re not very familiar with data analysis. When the stakeholders can understand what you’re telling them, you’ll be more likely to get their buy-in.

What Should You Include in a Reporting Dashboard?

Before you set up your dashboard, you need to understand what exactly your goal is. Then, you can determine what metrics and KPIs you need to include in it and what type of dashboard you need (operational, strategic, etc.)

When it comes to the right number of KPIs to include, there’s no universal answer. However, you should remember that less is more in this case. If you place every little metric on your dashboard, it may become chaotic and you may miss valuable insights because of the lack of structure and order. That’s why it’s critical to make a selection of the most relevant KPIs and metrics to include: those that coincide with your goals and can provide you with vital information.

For instance, if you’re creating a sales dashboard, you may want to include monthly recurring revenue or quote to close, as these metrics are very important. Marketing specialists will include metrics such as conversion rate or monthly organic traffic, depending on their goals. Finance teams usually track and measure net profit margin and return on investment.

How to Create a Dashboard Report?

Want to start creating dashboard reports? Here’s what you need to do.

Choose the right tools

Before you start building, make sure you equip yourself with tools that make your job easier. A good dashboard software should offer pre-made templates that you can use to save your time, but also give you a chance to customize your dashboard when necessary. Also, make sure your chosen tool offers plenty of integrations so you can pull the data from various sources.

Select the right KPIs

Define your dashboard goal and what you need to report on. Based on that, choose relevant KPIs and metrics that you’ll include in the dashboard. Set expectations regarding what you need to find out and how you’re going to use that information (for instance, if you’re trying to discover weak spots in your latest marketing campaign or identify an industry trend).

Visualize your data

Choose what type of visualizations you’re going to use. Pie charts, graphs, tables… the world is practically your oyster–it’s up to you to determine what data goes well with which type of visual. For example, bar charts can help you compare metrics that belong to the same category, like organic vs. paid traffic. Pie charts are good for representing the questions that offer only two options as answers.

Make sure the data is easy to read and consistent across different dashboards, especially if you’ll be presenting to people who aren’t familiar with data analytics.

5 Best Practices for Dashboard Management

How do you ensure your dashboard reporting process is efficient and as productive as possible? Follow these best practices.

Assign KPIs to Your Team

If you have multiple KPIs (or dashboards), assign everyone on your team with specific KPIs to track. That way, everyone can be accountable for their metrics and nothing on the dashboard will go unnoticed. Make sure everyone has access to all the tools they need!

Automate Reports

To save time and embed reporting into your daily activities in a smooth manner, automate reports. Have them automatically generate every week or month and come straight to your inbox–it’s faster and you can cross off one thing from your to-do list. Automated reports may also prevent you from falling into the “live data” trap–you don’t want to spend hours updating the dashboard just to get the latest data.

Related: How Automated Reporting Saved 16 Agencies Time, Money, and Headaches

Focus on the Dashboard Structure

How you organize your data matters. Use hierarchical order to place metrics and KPIs on your report, to give both yourself and any other viewer a clear idea of the reporting topic and tell a story with your data. Grouping your metrics into blocks and resizing them to create a beautiful image also helps the report’s readability. You can also use a benchmark visualization next to your graphs since a little bit of context will explain to the viewer if the figures in the reporting dashboard are good or bad.

Include Dashboard Filters

Different people may take a look at your dashboard report, so including filters is a good option. That way, you don’t have to create multiple dashboards for multiple audiences, but allow your teammates and managers to simply filter out what’s relevant for them.

Round Your Numbers

Accuracy doesn’t always trump everything else. If you’re tracking website traffic, for example, you may want to represent the month-to-date number of visitors as 55K rather than 55,016 visitors. The difference is minimal and doesn’t affect any decisions you may make regarding your marketing activities.

Dashboard Reporting Examples

We’d like to illustrate the guide with some notable examples of reporting dashboards. Databox is a user-friendly dashboard reporting tool that offers hundreds of templates, and we’ve singled out examples by industry and by job function, so you can see what beautiful, practical dashboards look like.

By Industry

SaaS Dashboard

SaaS dashboards offer templates with the most common industry metrics that allow you to track growth, revenue trends, and other metrics you consider essential.

For example, the Stripe MRR and Churn dashboard template helps businesses monitor their churn rate and MRR growth in real-time. It also answers questions like: How much did you make in sales in a given day? How many customers do you currently have?

SaaS Dashboard example

Available metrics:

  • Customers
  • MRR
  • Gross volume
  • Churn rate, etc.

Ecommerce Dashboard

Have an ecommerce store? Ecommerce dashboards contain the most commonly tracked metrics, so you can get a high-level overview of your store, track your online sales performance, or learn how sales affect your business development.

For example, Google Analytics Product Revenue dashboard template allows you to customize the metrics as you see fit, and create a simple overview of your ecommerce performance data. You get to answer questions like: How much revenue was generated from a specific device? Which traffic source generated the most revenue? And much more.

google_analytics_product_revenue_dashboard

Available metrics:

  • Average order revenue
  • Revenue by device
  • Sessions by source/medium
  • Ecommerce conversion rate, etc.

IT Dashboard

IT dashboards allow your IT department to track all the relevant metrics and monitor their performance in one place. Integrations with the most popular software development tools, such as GitHub, are available in all free templates and can be customized according to your needs.

For example, GitHub Overview dashboard template provides you with the latest updates on your projects and lets you identify bug fixes across your team quickly and easily. You’ll be able to answer questions like:

  • What changes have been made to a project?
  • How many open issues do you have?
IT dashboard example

Available metrics:

  • Commits
  • Commits by user
  • Total closed issues
  • Total closed pull requests, etc.

By Job Function

Marketing Dashboard

Marketing dashboards allow you to track a variety of strategy aspects, such as SEO, automation, social media, PPC, and more. You can connect the dashboard with the most popular marketing tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, Google Ads, Google Search Console, and more, and stay on top of your rankings, ad performance, etc.

For example, Google Analytics Acquisition dashboard template allows you to dive deep into the channels, networks, referrers, and pages that bring traffic to your website.

Marketing Dashboard example

Available metrics:

  • Average session duration
  • Top channels by sessions
  • Sessions by social network
  • Visit-to-signup rate, etc.

Sales Dashboard

Your sales team can easily track their activity, leads, pipeline and funnel performance, calls, events, and more by using a sales dashboard template. Right after downloading a free template and connecting it with your data, you can get streamlined visualizations of important metrics that measure your sales success.

For example, HubSpot Full Funnel Analysis dashboard template lets you gain quick insight into how your marketing and sales teams are performing together. Thanks to this dashboard, you can identify bottlenecks and create a plan to optimize your lead conversion process.

HubSpot Sales Dashboard example

Available metrics:

  • Sessions
  • New contacts
  • New SQLs
  • Deals created, etc.

Finance Dashboard

Finance dashboards allow you to pull the data from the most popular financial management tools and track your financial performance in a straightforward way. You can track important business KPIs such as profit, loss, revenue, and expenses.

For example, Quickbooks dashboard template allows you to visualize the data from your Quickbooks account and monitor your cash flow, bank account, sales, expenses, and more, all in one place. This dashboard can answer important questions, such as: How much income did your business generate last month? How do you track unpaid invoices?

Finance Dashboard example

Available metrics:

  • Gross profit
  • Net income
  • Open invoices amount by customer
  • Balance by bank accounts and credit cards, etc.

Customer Support Dashboard

Customer support dashboards allow you to measure the efficiency of your customer care team and you can connect them with all popular customer support tools like HelpScout or Intercom. Your dashboard may include relevant KPIs such as first response time, happiness score, resolution time, and more.

For example, Intercom Customer Support Overview dashboard template contains all the metrics you need to assess your team’s performance, but you can also customize it to your liking. You may answer important questions like: How many new conversations did your customer support team handle on a given day? How are customer conversations tagged on Intercom? And much more.

Customer Support Dashboard example

Available metrics:

  • Leads
  • Conversations
  • New conversations
  • Open conversations by teammates

Project Management Dashboard

If you need a dashboard to track your projects from multiple sources, you can do it all in one place with project management dashboards, whether it’s employee time tracking or client tracking. You can use Asana, Jira, Harvest, or any other project management tool from over 70 available integrations in Databox.

For example, this Harvest Task Time Report dashboard template lets you track custom metrics from this app and is particularly useful for businesses that use Agile principles. You can see the number of hours tracked monthly, quarterly, and annually, and more.

Project Management Dashboard example

Available metrics:

  • Hours tracked
  • Billable hours
  • Billable amount, etc.
marketing_overview_hubspot_ga_dashboard_databox

Automate Dashboard Reporting with Databox

Batman has Robin, and you have Databox by your side to help you generate amazing results for your business.

Want to catch issues in performance faster? Done. Want to save time when creating reports? Done. Want to see relevant data from over 70 popular tools in one, streamlined dashboard?

Also done.

Databox pulls your data into a single, clear, compact visualization so you can gain instant insight into your performance, identify trends and opportunities, and fix issues at an early stage. Choose pre-built dashboards or customize them to create your own and use the Scheduled Snapshot feature to receive and share Databox reports at regular times, without spending time creating new reports from scratch and sending them to everyone on the team.

Sounds like the tool you could use to optimize your reporting process? Don’t waste time and set up your free Databox dashboards today.

About the author
Stefana Zaric
Stefana Zaric Stefana Zarić is a freelance writer & content marketer. Other than writing for SaaS and fintech clients, she educates future writers who want to build a career in marketing. When not working, Stefana loves to read books, play with her kid, travel, and dance.
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