Five Keys to Dashboarding : The secrets you need to know

Due to the exponential growth of data (more is coming with the Internet of Things) industrial companies are struggling to translate their data, retrieved from many different data sources, into information. Dashboarding achieves this by providing information about the plant’s performance to all levels of the organization, transforming data into meaningful information.

Dashboarding helps to achieve operational excellence, reduces inefficiencies, and can directly help business growth.

Information driven operation through dashboarding helps businesses combat inefficiency and improve customer satisfaction by responding more quickly to factory issues by proactively fixing problems, as well as empowering people to make intelligent decisions and prioritise actions.

The challenge is not to create a Dashboard (we provide the perfect tool for this), it is about how to create it in order to improve performance and to achieve targets.

Let's talk about it!

1. Understand the user story

Modern project management methodologies like Scrum or extreme programming are all about understanding the user story.

We suggest you apply the same approach when designing a dashboard.

There are several things you have to understand :

- The context that drives the user's interest

- Define the KPIs that are meaningful to the user

- Find out which widget is the most appropriate to represent the KPIs

This can be achieved through workshops with your users in an iterative way.

Dashboarding is a journey, avoid seeing a Dashboard as a static element and consider future developments it can have. That has to be done both in design and functionality, since they tend to change over time. New needs and goals are constantly incorporated into the factory, such as the inclusion of external indicators to complement the information contained in the Dashboard.

2. Less is more

As we said before, you should identify the KPI's of the company to be included in your Dashboard.

Not all company data should be part of the dashboard, the idea is to identify key points and, according to their behavior, deepen the affected variables. Remember, a Dashboard is a graphic and simplified view of the performance of the factory.

In other words, follow the KISANS principle (Keep It Simple And Not Stupid !)

3. Data Management

Dashboards are increasingly used to monitor and control operations performed. They can be considered as decision making tools.

It is vital to have updated and up to date information, which allows to take quick, and accurate decisions based on accurate values.

Periodic data reviews, Master Data Management (MDM) or any other approach allow to make sure the Dashboards remain accurate.

4. Think interactive

Many features allow the user to examine the underlying data :

- filtering (based on various dimensions like shift, time, lot number),

- drilling down,

- comparing

- correlating

If you’ve correctly identified the context of the data, the dashboard users will be able to take actionable decisions in minutes.

5. Think Visual

Remember that Dashboarding is about Visual Analytics, the goal is to allow users to interact with their data in a self-service manner.

Dashboard information should be presented in a simple, readable and understandable way, commonly expressed through graphics, so that all factory employees can easily interpret the meaning of the indicators contained in it.

Remember what you’ve understood about Situational Awarness and its fantastic library for Wonderware System Plateform, the same principles apply when presenting data to the user.

In future posts, we'll talk about all these subjects in more details, helping you designing perfect dashboards.

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