As the quarantine continues, teams have moved into their home offices and are settling into this new way of working. Last week, we shared our own experiences with remote work, and some tips on how we are making the most out of it.
This week, we’d love to continue the conversation, but approach it from a different angle. As analytics is our core expertise, we asked ourselves: how can dashboards help to build efficient and productive remote teams? We briefly touched upon this in the last post, but we felt there is still more to tell, and more to benefit from as a remote business.
What are the advantages of dashboards for remote teams?
The main advantage of using dashboards is to improve both communication and information for remote teams. Not only internally between colleagues, but also externally towards clients, partners, etcetera.
Dashboards can help your remote teams improve on the following things:
Align better internally: dashboards are an instrument to help you think and act in the same direction, especially as a remote team.
Make data-driven decisions: truly understand your business and how you are progressing on strategic priorities.
Keep your clients and partners informed: continue to provide real-time insights while working remotely, or use dashboards to support remote business reviews and status updates.
Build trust with clients: especially when communicating remotely with clients, you’ll create a relationship based on transparency and trust when sharing visual insights in real-time.
On top of that, there are some tricks that can really boost the efficiency of your dashboards. Below, we will highlight our 5 golden tips for both internal and external dashboards. How can you optimize them to get the best result when working remotely?
Tips to improve external communication with dashboards
Tip 1: Integrate dashboards into a client portal or application
If you want to share dashboards and insights with clients on a large scale, your remote teams will gain efficiency by using integrated dashboards.
Instead of having to create a separate, custom dashboard per client, you can use embedded analytics tools to automate your client reporting. It allows you to offer one and the same dashboard to all of your clients. But the dashboard automatically filters to show only the data that applies to the specific client that is viewing the dashboard.
During these times, when you see your customers less frequently, this helps you to share insights efficiently and highly secured. The dashboards will reuse your portal or application’s authentication system, to show only the data of the user that is logged in.
Tip 2: Useful data to visualize towards clients & partners
You might wonder: which data are actually relevant to share with my clients or partners? This will depend largely on the type of business you are in. Let’s look into 3 examples.
For services companies, it’s highly relevant to share project and budget progress, or show the specific results of your services. For example, field marketing agency Field & Concept integrates dashboards into their client portal. They track the time booked and budget spent on different projects, and how their field sales representatives are reaching their sales target. This helps them to increase transparency to their customers, and build long-lasting relationships.
Product or SaaS companies can visualize the usage data of their platform, or private user data that are relevant to the users. In that way, they can help their users to make better, data-driven decisions directly inside their own platform. For example, Beeple, an HR planning tool, offers a dashboard to their clients that shows how many hours a specific employee worked per project, per client, and how long it takes to fill a position. In that way, Beeple helps their clients to optimize employee planning with the right data.
For public information or governments, embedded dashboards are a great way to share open data with the wider public, in a very easy and interactive format. Especially in these times of COVID-19, citizens expect visual and accessible statistics that are easy to interpret. For example, governments could embed COVID-19 dashboards and statistics into a public website or portal, to open up this data to the public.
Tips to improve internal communication with dashboards
Tip 3: Use different types of dashboards for different goals
Not all dashboards are the same. Are you trying to understand the reasons why your leads aren’t converting into opportunities? Or are you reporting on the global sales figures towards your manager? You get the point: the goal of your dashboard will largely determine what your dashboard will look like.
Strategic dashboards: give a birds-eye view on your business and progress on strategic goals.
Operational dashboards: track activity in a specific area of business.
Tactical dashboards: meant for in-depth analysis into a specific business process.
While strategic dashboards are suited for management meetings, you would rather use an operational dashboard in team meetings, and tactical dashboards for your own expertise.
Look for the right balance of information, depending on what you’ll use the dashboard for. Strategic dashboards are high-level and straight to the point, while tactical dashboards require much more detailed data and information.
Especially when working remotely, videocalls can be tiresome. Attention spans are usually shorter. So try to get to the essential data immediately when in meetings. A good dashboard will support your reasoning. It helps you to communicate more efficiently.
Tip 4: Create actionable dashboards
A common mistake for remote teams is to create multiple dashboards, which then end up being rarely used. Here, the trick is to create dashboards in such a way that they inspire you to take action.
When creating a dashboard, you’ll usually try to provide answers. “What do I want people to learn from this dashboard?” Next time, try to think of which actions you want them to take. “What do I want people to do with the data afterwards?”
To implement this, a good tip is to use targets in your dashboards. In addition, you can use guidelines to show targets or averages. These targets and guidelines will keep your team motivated and focused on your goals, even when working remotely.
Pro-tip: define clear actions for when a target is not reached or over-achieved. In that way, your team is always aligned on the next steps. In our previous post on dashboarding for SaaS, you can find some practical examples.
Tip 5: Boost usage of your dashboards
You’ve built a number of great dashboards. Now, how do you ensure your team actually uses them? The previous tips should already be a great help. In addition, we have a few more tips to spark engagement on your freshly created dashboards.
You’ll have to experiment a bit to see what works for your team. But to get your creative brains to work, we’ll sum up a couple of ideas below:
Let your team members bookmark dashboards as your browser homepage
Use dashboards when you start a new project, in order to increase people’s involvement. For example, organize a calling competition and track the results, start a bug fixing project and track team progress,…
Also use dashboards for fun activities that improve the team spirit remotely. For example, introduce a coffee-tracker dashboard: who is really drinking too much coffee at home and needs an intervention?
In this way, you’ll make your dashboards more fun, with a clear incentive to use them. This motivates people to use the dashboards as a tool to do their job better.
Are you ready to give your remote organization an efficiency boost? With these tips for dashboarding, you can start implementing a data-driven culture towards both clients and employees.