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Must Dash: The Benefits of Data Visualisation For Business Ops

Digital business dashboards function in much the same way as their car-based counterparts. By simplifying complex reporting, communicating it back to the user via an easily digestible visualisation, they offer much greater insight into your day-to-day business data and operations.

Today we’ll look at the rise of dashboards, exploring the positive impact they can have on internal business operations and wider-ranging customer experience, with a case study taken from our very own blubolt HQ.

Close up of a dashboard

Save The Data: The Value Of Visualisation

Data is the lifeblood of most modern businesses, and this is especially true within the eCommerce and SaaS space.

With the uptick in our ability to track, monitor and record information as it’s generated, there’s a huge opportunity to learn from it, optimising our internal strategies as we go. 

Interpretation is the key to success here, and the desire for concise reporting “at a glance” has fueled the surging popularity of data visualisation tools and business dashboards. 

Dashboards can be operational (assisting with real-time decision making) or analytical (giving a broader picture of trends over time within your organisation.) The main benefits of implementing this kind of reporting within your internal business include:

  • Speeding up reporting processes via automation
  • Extracting greater meaning from your data
  • Better internal alignment: a single “source of truth” for teams 
  • Consolidation of multiple data points

The implementation of internal dashboards at blubolt has proved immensely valuable. Their introduction was triggered by one simple question; “How’s Support looking today?

As an eCommerce provider, our Support system is of paramount importance. Management needed the ability to gain an instant impression of the state of play. Multiple factors required consideration:

  • How busy is Support today?
  • How quickly are tickets being closed?
  • Are we experiencing any spikes?
  • Are any tickets in breach of SLA?

The list continues. It was clear that this one ‘simple question’ required a multifaceted reporting solution. The answer: dashboards.

After exploring a few commercial solutions and finding nothing that perfectly met requirements, our Support Manager at the time, Warren Amphlett (now Head Of Platform) developed our dashboards internally.

The first iterations were basic, pulling data such as the number of open tickets from Zendesk, and colour-coding any SLA-related tickets. The impact on the Support team was immediate, however. Working practices changed, as we could now move away from time slots dedicated to problem areas, and towards a much more proactive approach, based on real-time data.

blubolt dashboard

Realising the impact of these simple first steps towards visualisation, we started developing new widgets, leveraging historical data to place the real-time reporting into context. Comparative performance was instantly accessible: colour coding within the dash revealed how the department was functioning in the context of similar past time periods.

We finally had our at-a-glance answer to the question, “how’s Support looking today?” The benefits weren’t just seen internally – using data to streamline our processes helped us serve our clients better, making their interactions much simpler and more efficient. Recognising the value of the transformative effect this had, we started distributing custom dashboards with new integrations to other teams across the business.

Our dashboard helps the bluCommerce platform developers see how their work contributes to the team as a whole. It tracks the numbers which are most important to the team (namely, the number of tickets Closed and In Review), but also has an area for each member of the team to show what they’re working on, what tickets they have In Review and the number of tickets they’ve closed this sprint.

We’ve noticed a dramatic increase in productivity since introducing the dashboard, and it’s helped with communication. Now that we have something communal to refer to, everyone knows what’s going on and where to check if they don’t. 

– Elspeth Hinde (Product Manager, blubolt)

Best Practise Tips For Using Internal Dashboards

If you suspect your own internal process could be simplified by the clear, universally accessible reporting dashboards offer, here are some key considerations.

  • Be clear about the issue you are trying to solve: how will reporting help to refine your working practice?
  • Keep the numbers simple: the whole point of dashboards is to provide concise clarity.
  • Ensure visibility and encourage adoption: dashboards have fantastic potential but they do rely on the buy-in of your whole team for maximum benefit. 
  • Keep adapting: dashboards should reveal new ways to optimise your workflow – celebrate the successes and learn from the shortfalls.
  • Empower your team: be sure to feature numbers that they can directly affect (dashboards should be a source of motivation, not stress!)
  • If there’s no scope for internal development, the BI (Business Intelligence) industry is booming. Many commercial options exist for custom dashboard creation (although it should be noted that these are typically more geared towards analytical as opposed to operational use.)

Most solutions can live on-premise or in the cloud. Solutions such as Klipfolio, SAP Business Objects, Tableau and many others all offer drag and drop functionality to start building out your own custom dashboards to detangle your data.

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