Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Establish the User Requirements
List the required data sources
After you have the list of measures that you need on the dashboard, it’s important to take a tally of
the available databases or other source systems to determine whether the data required to produce
those measures is available.
➤ Do you have access to the data sources necessary?
➤ How often are those data sources updated?
➤ Who owns and maintains those data sources?
➤ What are the processes to get the data from those resources?
➤ Does the data even exist?
You’ll need answers to these questions when negotiating development time, refresh intervals, and
Conventional wisdom says that the measures on your dashboard should not be
governed by the availability of data. Instead, let dashboard KPIs and measures govern the
data sources in your organization. Although we agree with the spirit of that statement,
we’ve been involved in too many dashboard projects that have fallen apart because of
lack of data. Real-world experience has taught us the difference between the ideal and
If your organizational strategy requires that you collect and measure data that is nonexistent or not
available, press pause on the dashboard project and turn your attention to creating a data collection
mechanism that will help you to get the data you need.
Define the dimensions and filters
In the context of building a dashboard, a dimension is a data category that you use to organize
business data. Examples of dimensions are region, market, branch, manager, and employee. When you
define a dimension in the user requirements stage, you can determine how the measures should be
grouped or distributed. For example, if your dashboard should report data by employee, you will
need to ensure that your data collection processes include employee details. As you can imagine,
adding a new dimension after the dashboard is built can get complicated, especially when your
processes require collecting data across multiple data sources. The bottom line is that locking down the
dimensions for a dashboard early in the process will definitely save you headaches.
Along those same lines, you want to know the types of filters that you’ll need. Filters are mechanisms
that allow you to narrow the scope of the data to a single dimension. For example, you can filter by
year, employee, or region. Again, if you don’t account for a particular filter while establishing your
data collection process, you will likely be forced into an unpleasant redesign of both your processes
and your dashboard.