• Jeremy Irving

10 Steps to a Data Dashboard

Modern dashboard solutions sure are sexy. It is very difficult to avoid diving right in with these tools. Especially with their templated widgets which show web and social media activity in minutes. Those are easy, but the rest require careful planning and focused effort.

Resist the urge to dive in! Slow down and follow these steps with key stakeholders:

Each step will list an "Output". You should generate this before moving onto the next step.

1. Why do you measure?

Pull way back and really ask yourself why you measure activities. Precisely what is the benefit to the organization?

There are generally two motivators: accountability to a funder or manager and/or continuously improving products or services. I prefer the latter motivation, but the former is certainly important to excel on as well.

Use this framework and get specific on how measurement will improve the organization. It should be high-level at this stage. Write it down and agree!

Next you must clearly identify who the audiences are. Likely the audience will vary depending on the level of reporting and specific measures. The best measures will serve all audiences and will allow drill-down detail.


  • Clearly defined rational for measuring

  • Target audiences

2. Define your programs

Programs are the highest level segments of a reporting system. This should be pretty straightforward. A program might be a Human Resources, a Community House, or Primary Care Outreach. It's a good idea to tag programs with Departments as well, to enable roll-up where possible.