/ Operational vs. Executive Dashboards

Operational vs. Executive Dashboards

Dashboards are a great way to display your business data in an easy-to-understand format. They can help you make better decisions and improve your overall business performance.

There are many different types of dashboard, but there are two that are important to understand for making high-level, strategic business decisions.

Operational dashboards track progress towards goals and measure operational performance. Executive dashboards communicate data implications to high-level decision-makers. Both are essential for operational success.



An overview of dashboards

Dashboards are an essential part of a BI system. They help users to get quick and easy access to the information that they need to make decisions about business processes.

Broadly speaking, a dashboard is a collection of data visualizations, like charts and graphs, that inform their viewers about various different types of data analysis.

Businesses use dashboards to communicate data insights at every level of their operations. Every employee, from low-level workers to high-level executives, can benefit from some kind of BI dashboard.


What are operational dashboards?

Operational dashboards are used to monitor and optimize business operations. They provide a snapshot of the current state of a business, allowing viewers to see how things are going in real-time as well as over time.

Operational dashboards typically show KPIs (key performance indicators) like sales figures or customer satisfaction scores, but they can also include other measures that show how well your organization is performing overall.

These tend to get into the details of a department, product, operation, or process. Employees can then use the implications of these metrics to inform their day-to-day operations. However, at the employee level, it’s much harder to effectively use an operational dashboard to inform broad business strategies since they don’t have the power to make that sort of stuff happen.


What are executive dashboards?

Executive dashboards are a tool for a business’s most senior decision makers to monitor performance and discover data-driven insights. They are used to present information in a way that is easy to understand and can be used to make decisions.

Executive dashboards often provide a high-level summary of the most essential metrics for executive teams or executives themselves. With this information, executives can track performance over time, spot trends, and use it as part of their decision-making process.

They are typically driven by KPIs, which help to identify areas of opportunity or improvement. Executive dashboards also often include forecasting capabilities, which allow users to predict how their KPIs will trend in the future.


How are these dashboard types related?

Executive dashboards are operational dashboards. They’re just more tailored towards a specific audience than operational dashboards usually are.

Regular operational dashboards are designed to be used by a broad audience. They’re for department-wide consumption so that every user who works in that department can use the metrics they display to direct their work priorities.

Executive dashboards, though, are tailored for an extremely narrow audience. In many businesses, an executive dashboard may be designed for just one or two people. This allows executive dashboard designers to be much more specific in what sort of information they show.



Why are BI dashboards critical to operations?

Dashboards are an excellent way for managers to see the big picture and make decisions. They help keep track of progress, communicate with other managers, and show progress to executives.

You need to be able to see all parts of your business at once. You need access to data in real-time or near-real-time so that you can make informed decisions on what moves should be made next. Dashboards can provide that access.

In addition, it’s important that everyone within your organization understands which metrics matter most: how much money is being spent on marketing? How many customers do we have? How many sales were completed last month?

A BI dashboard provides all this information in one place—and it gives everyone who uses it an understanding of where they stand compared to other departments or divisions within the company (or even compared with competitors).


How do BI dashboards solve business challenges?

The beauty of a well-designed executive dashboard is that it can be customized to fit the needs of any business. If you are working in shipping and logistics with numerous branches all over the country, the needs you have to consider on a daily basis will vary greatly compared to a group of healthcare providers.

If you cannot modify and customize your dashboard, you will lack the ability to remain competitive in today’s data-driven marketplace. This is especially true if the other competitors in your business niche are utilizing BI tools to expand their decision-making.

How can middle management convince executives to utilize dashboards?

The most effective way to convince executives to use dashboards is to highlight the benefits of using them. You can do this by showing how the dashboards can help with business problems, goals, processes, and decisions.
Dashboards can help executives by:

  • Helping with business problems: Dashboards are great for monitoring performance and identifying issues in real-time. This will allow you to take action before things get out of hand.
  • Helping with goals: Dashboard graphs can show how well a team is doing against its targets or key performance indicators (KPIs). This allows managers at all levels of an organization to see if their teams are making progress towards meeting their objectives – which should make everyone happy.
  • Helping with processes: Dashboards often include KPIs that measure key elements of your process — like lead time, cycle time, and throughput rate. These metrics allow executives to identify any bottlenecks in company efficiency.



Picking the right dashboard

When it comes to picking the right dashboard for your business, there are several important factors to consider.

No matter what, it will come down to the type of executive leadership style and comfort with technology.

Other key factors include:

Who is utilizing the dashboard?

Certain executives will be better suited for dashboards than others. There are plenty of reasons for this, ranging from generational gaps to technical skills.

A lot of executives do not necessarily want to mess with BI tools, even though they see the high value of integrating them into current operations.

That means, while you may design a dashboard with a lot of interactivity for an executive, those interactive features might go unused if the executive is uninterested in using them.

Remember that when you build an executive dashboard, that you’re designing it for an audience of one. It’s very important to take the needs of your executive into account when designing these kinds of dashboards.

What are the business goals?

In order to determine whether or not a dashboard is relevant, you should first be clear on what your business goals are. What do you want it to accomplish?

Executives are going to be much more concerned about broad, strategic business goals than they will be about specific goal attainment. If the marketing team has set goals, it’s not usually the responsibility of the executive to track those goals. They want to know how that marketing success is playing into overall business health.

How many data sources are being used?

The number of data sources is a significant factor when it comes to determining the complexity of your dashboard. The more data you have and the more complex your charts and visualizations are, the more time it will take to build and maintain your dashboard.

This can be difficult if you are working with many different types of people who need access to various parts of the same dashboard.

Will others see the same data?

These dashboards are designed to be used by an executive team or a department. They are most often utilized for reporting purposes and for making strategic decisions.

A good example is the marketing department at your company, which may create an executive dashboard that displays the number of leads generated, average revenue per lead, conversion rate, and so on. This information can be vital in helping you make strategic decisions about how much money you should invest in acquiring new customers in order to increase sales.

The key here is that these types of dashboards need to be customized specifically to meet the needs of your business and each department within it.

Just be aware that an executive is likely to use this data for justification of a choice. That means it will be viewable by department heads or issue reports for everyone in an organization to see.


Choose the right dashboard for your team

Business intelligence dashboards are not just for executives. They can also be used by middle managers and other members of your team. If you’re looking to improve the way your company does business, then it’s worth considering a BI dashboard as an option.

While an operational dashboard may be appropriate for the everyday team members that are tracking their progress toward a goal, an executive dashboard will be better for measuring multiple teams and the various goals they are all tracking.

Executives want dashboards that look from the top down into the company and then turn around to consider the ever-changing marketplace. The broader you can make your dashboard with verifiable and reliable data, the better.

Check out some related resources:

Fight the ‘Sleepworking’ epidemic with better data and tech access

Domo Named a Leader in Nucleus Research’s 2023 Analytics Technology Value Matrix

Data-Driven Decisions Are Both Science and Art

Try Domo for yourself. Completely free.

Domo transforms the way these companies manage business.