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Why Are So Many Dashboard Projects Stuck in “Nice to Have” Limbo?

In data visualization and analytics, dashboard projects hold immense promise. Basically, they serve as a window into the intricate workings of your operations, offering insights at a glance and timely provision of decision-critical information. However, too many dashboards projects fail because the content is irrelevant or part of the workflow for the user communities they should serve. There are many reasons and contributing factors for this:

1. Dashboard Projects Constraints

The dashboards are constrained by the technology used to make them, e.g., it is common to see dashboards based on relational data from one platform and then dashboards based on time series sensor data in another system. Indeed, this is often because the technologies can’t support different data types, so they evangelize that you need two different types of platforms/systems.

In addition, when users make operational decisions about their plant, having an integrated view of all data in one place is most efficient, not switching between two or three dashboarding systems based on data types.

2. Overloading with Information

Obviously, one common trap in dashboard design is succumbing to the temptation to include every conceivable piece of data. Moreover, while the intention is to offer a comprehensive view, overloading a dashboard with information can result in confusion rather than clarity. But users may require assistance in deciphering the most critical insights amidst the noise. Therefore, considering Data Density becomes essential in rapidly assimilating decision-critical, data-driven information.

3. Lack of User-Centric Approach

Dashboard projects can hit a roadblock when they need to align with users’ needs. Creating a dashboard that doesn’t resonate with the end users – operators, managers, or executives – can render the entire project ineffective. A user-centric, workflow-based approach to dashboard design ensures that the dashboard caters to specific roles and objectives.

4. Ignoring Data Quality and Pre-data Processing

Depending on inaccurate or outdated data can result in flawed conclusions and misguided decisions. Neglecting data quality checks and maintenance further jeopardizes the reliability and utility of the dashboard. Some technologies necessitate preprocessing all dashboard content in a monolithic data warehouse. Each data cube slice requires a distinct table or view in the backend before visualizing it in a chart or table. Caution is advised with such technologies, as investing time and money in a monolithic data mart might not align with evolving business priorities, potentially making prepared data sets and associated dashboard visualizations obsolete.

Opting for platforms that seamlessly connect to existing systems of record and offer user-friendly data manipulations and dashboard content generation proves more cost-effective and efficient.

5. Complex or Inappropriate Visualizations – “Today we are 94% yellow!”

While visually appealing dashboards can be enticing, complex visualizations can backfire. The dashboard loses value if users need help interpreting intricate graphs or charts. The key is to balance aesthetics and usability, opting for visualizations that convey information intuitively. PI charts, for example, may be pleasant to look at. However, they turn absolute values into relative amounts, which can obfuscate the magnitude of the data, and they leave the end users trying to compare deals by angle visually.

Therefore, a far more effective approach would be to use a horizontal bar chart in descending order with the actual values listed and an indication of which values exceeded an intervention point. Furthermore, a link to trigger the intervention decision support process adds a functional workflow element to the dashboard!

6. Neglecting Scalability

Dashboard projects often start with a specific scope, but as organizations evolve, so do their data needs. Neglecting Scalability can lead to a dashboard that becomes obsolete or insufficient as data volume grows. It’s crucial to design with Scalability in mind to accommodate future expansion. Have you tried maintaining 1000 URL navigation links between dashboards?  

7. No Management of Change 

Rolling out a new dashboard without effective change management will result in low adoption and underutilization. So, users may need to fully grasp the dashboard’s features or understand how to extract insights effectively. Providing comprehensive training ensures that users maximize the dashboard’s potential. Still, the new system must be promoted internally with incentives for the workforce to adopt the new approach. Workflow-enhancing dashboards will also improve adoption significantly.

8. Focusing on Tools, Not Insights

It’s easy to get caught up in the allure of cutting-edge dashboard tools and technologies. However, the primary goal should always be to derive actionable insights from the data that drive workflows.  Prioritizing flashy features over meaningful insights can lead to a superficial dashboard that fails to drive impactful decisions, and they will not foster continuous improvement.

9. Excluding the end users from the design process

There isn’t much need to elaborate on this pitfall. So, to avoid this trapdoor, select user champions from the workforce who will provide tacit knowledge and workflow-based requirements to ensure the dashboards are fit for purpose. Including the end-user community, champions will also help with adoption.

Navigating the Path to Success

Effective dashboard design requires experience and a flexible platform to handle different data streams from disparate sources at different velocities. The data needs some processing and must be transformed into useful, timely information that fosters continuous improvements.

Begin by clearly defining objectives and involving key stakeholders from the outset. Prioritize a user-centric design, validate data quality, and opt for intuitive visualizations. Ultimately, consider future scalability, invest in user training, and always keep sight of the ultimate goal: deriving actionable insights.

Evidently, dashboard projects hold immense potential to transform how you harness and leverage data. By addressing potential pitfalls head-on, you pave the way for a dashboard that empowers informed decision-making and propels your organization forward.

IT Vizion has been helping companies worldwide do more with their data for many years, and our team has vital industrial experience with IT expertise. Our process is tried and trusted. 

Contact Daniel Daia at to arrange a first consultation, and we can guide you to success.

IT Vizion is the OT/IT system integrator of choice for some of the largest Oil&Gas, Chemicals, and Manufacturing companies worldwide.

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