Before business dashboards rolled around, taking the pulse of your company was a time-consuming task. You’d have to contact a few different people, ask for reports, wait around until they were ready, and then analyze the already-outdated information. With business dashboards, that process is eliminated. Now, business leaders just open up their dashboard to see all the data they care about.
Dashboards are quite helpful, unless you purchase bad dashboard software. Bad software can limit a dashboard’s usefulness or even make it downright unusable. How can you tell the difference between good and bad before you buy? Here are 5 types of dashboard software to avoid:
1. Software that’s all flash, but little substance
Fancy animations and colorful graphs are great, but are not the most important aspect of a dashboard. Here’s a better question: What’s going on under the hood? What sort of architecture is it built on? Does it work with multiple data sources? How customizable is it? Many companies focus on the shiny interface, but few build a solid foundation.
2. Inflexible dashboard software
What do I mean by “inflexible?” Here’s an example: What if you bought dashboard software that was built on a closed, proprietary foundation and wasn’t web-based? You could only access it inside of the office and it wouldn’t integrate with your existing software. That’s what I call “inflexible.” On the other hand, a flexible dashboard is accessible via the web and plays nicely with other software. It lets you place dashboard graphs/charts wherever you need them. For instance, here’s a screenshot of a dashboard integrated into Sharepoint. Here’s another screenshot of dashboard charts turned into Windows 7 desktop gadgets.
3. Dashboard software that limits future options
Many businesses focus so much on their current needs, they buy software that limits their future options. For instance, they buy a dashboard tool that only works with one type of database. What happens if they switch to another database, or bring in a new database in the future? Or they buy a tool built on a proprietary foundation, that only the vendor can support. What happens if that vendor ever goes out of business?
4. Software that ignores the web
These days, any dashboard solution that isn’t web-based shouldn’t even be considered. Why? Web-based software is accessible from anywhere, at any time. There’s no need to install software on each user’s computer. There’s no need to upgrade software on multiple computers. It even lets you integrate other web-based tools, such as Google maps. Software that isn’t web-based offers none of these benefits, and generally limits your options.
5. Dashboard software that ignores mobile
Going one step beyond the web, modern dashboard software should allow for mobile access. After all, smartphones and tablets are quickly becoming standard business tools. Unless you want to replace your dashboard software in a couple of years, it should let you build dashboards that are accessible from any tablet or smartphone.
If your company is currently looking for dashboard software, choosing the right option can make all the difference. The 5 options listed above are a good place to start, but I’m sure there are more signs of bad dashboard software. If you can add anything to the above list, I’d love to hear it in the comments.