How to Build a Real-time KPI Dashboard

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Written by Simon Porri

The ability to set and track goals has always been fundamental to business success, and that’s only become more the case since big data has made increased focus a priority. Only by knowing what you’re aiming towards can you put the influx of information coming your way to good use. Hence why most companies are finally putting key performance indicators (KPIs) at the heart of what they do.

As you likely already know, though, setting KPIs isn’t as simple as writing business goals on a piece of paper and hoping they drive you in the right direction. Instead, it’s fundamental that you make use of complex data and important metrics to set and verify indicators that you can stick with. KPI dashboards are the best way to make that happen. 

By providing a space for real-time data and KPIs to exist side by side, well thought out business dashboards can work wonders for forever bringing you closer to your bottom line. The question is, how do you build a real-time KPI dashboard that’s guaranteed to deliver the results you’re after? 

Know your KPIs

To stand any chance at building the right real-time dashboard for your needs, you first need to develop an understanding of which KPIs you’re working towards. These will, after all, impact everything from the performance data you focus on to the dashboard access necessary across the workplace. 

Ultimately, getting KPIs right comes down to making sure that you match your business objectives with your internal processes through the use of specific targets. With your dashboard needs in mind, you should also be thinking about a few key considerations through the indicator deciding process. KPI features that could impact your dashboard decisions include:

  • Getting purposeful

Typically, KPIs either relate to sharing information or driving behaviour. Each focus or purpose drastically impacts the information you need to collate, and where you’ll get it from. As such, determining the overall purpose of your KPIs (and thus your dashboard) ahead of time can radically increase your chances of going down the right route.

  • Settling on your audience

Once you’ve settled on purpose, you’ll also want to consider the audience to whom your chosen KPI is relevant. Again, this will impact the data you need to collate. More importantly, it will dictate whether your dashboard needs to be on a public or private platform or network.

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Consider the right KPI software for your needs

Once you have a rough idea of what your KPI dashboard needs to offer, it’s time to consider the best pre-built dashboard software for your needs. While some companies do still prefer to gather important metrics and indicators manually using platforms like Excel, KPI software is now a pretty fundamental dashboard requirement, especially where the handling of real-time data is concerned. 

That’s because KPI software offers automatically updated dashboards that you can easily manage from one straightforward platform. This benefit alone could lead to as much as a 75% improvement on actionable KPIs moving forward. It will undoubtedly help you to master your dashboard in half the time, especially if you’re aiming to share this data source businesswide. 

Perhaps the best way to settle on the right software for your business requirements would be to consider key features on a range of options, including:

  • Price
  • Connectivity
  • Dashboard types
  • Access to different channels
  • And more

As new KPI software providers forever come to the fore, these powerful tools are even providing ease through the integration of additions like drag and drop interfaces. These are fantastic for intuitive use from one source of truth, which also deserves your consideration when you’ve narrowed down the more fundamental aspects of this choice.

Once you’ve settled on a few key providers, signing up for free trials can help you see, once and for all, which KPI software best suits your current dashboard needs. Do note, though, that returning to software choices regularly is vital for maintaining a real-time dashboard that continues to meet your requirements and those of your developing indicators.

Focus on centralisation

Even once your KPIs and software are in place, a reliable real-time dashboard isn’t possible until you think about centralisation. Admittedly, this goal is easier to come by if you’re using well-selected software than, say, Google sheets, as most software suppliers will provide one-source-of-truth centralisation that can make tracking KPIs easier than ever.

Still, putting centralisation efforts even further at the heart of your dashboard is the best chance you have at making wise business decisions on the back of your findings. What’s more, centralising as much as you can now will make a massive difference to your ongoing success in an age where individuals create 1.7 megabytes every second. That’s a whole lot of consumer information, and it’s going to come at you from a range of different sources.

Failure to think about how you can bring these sources together on one dashboard interface will, at the very least, make your life difficult. In the worst case, a failure here could see your KPIs falling by the wayside altogether, or at least becoming impossible to track, which is much the same thing! 

Even with your ready-centralised software to hand, then, you need to include sections for what’s known as ‘data mapping’ for every single KPI you set down on your dashboard. This then frees you to build on necessary data sources, and centralise in ways that offer guaranteed results. No longer will you have to worry about correlation across a range of platforms. Instead, you’ll easily be able to see where you need to collect information from each time, and which are the best ways to do that. 

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Always implement action

Despite your best efforts elsewhere, your KPIs are only ever as valuable as the action they create. After all, you may as well have no indicators over ones that sit on your dashboard offering nothing. 

As such, the last step towards building a real-time dashboard is to ensure that you’re leaving plenty of room to note and track intended actions. Again, the right software can help you here, as actionable goal setting is usually at the heart of automated KPI dashboards. What’s more, such software will be able to continually compare performance to your KPIs, ensuring that you know where your success in action stands at any given time. 

Even if you prefer to create dashboards the old-fashioned way, taking the time to understand action necessary and the data needed to make it happen should form a fundamental part of your designs. 

This actionable message alone can help to spread KPI success across your workplace, as well as ensuring that indicators forever turn into success stories and, ultimately, profit. 

Dashing to the right software for your KPI needs

As you can see from the points covered, building a real-time KPI dashboard that you can rely on needn’t be the long-winded task it was as little as ten years ago, and that’s primarily due to the quality of relevant software now on offer. 

By taking your time to select a dashboard provider that meets with KPI requirements, you guarantee that you can tackle each of these building blocks with an added ease that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. What’s more, you can achieve the dashboard efficiency necessary to always come out on top where your indicators are concerned. 

Before your business drowns in data and manual processes, sign up for KPI software that appeals to you the most, and consider these surprisingly straightforward ways to make a KPI dashboard that doesn’t let your business down.

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