Is a CIO Dashboard in Power BI Right for Your Organization?

Visualization dashboards help CIOs interpret data so that they arrive at the right conclusions every time. CIOs use these tools to replace guesswork and arbitrary IT staffing levels. The best results come from CIO dashboards in Power BI that track preferred KPIs and are built around existing workflows.

By designing a well-organized dashboard, you will lead your IT teams confidently and inspire them to achieve more. 

What Can a Power BI CIO Dashboard Do? 

Microsoft’s Power BI is a platform for visualizing data. Users connect Power BI to a data source and upload their data into a visual template of their choice. There are hundreds of visuals available, designed to analyze data from many different angles. 

To save time, users can also create dashboards in Power BI that display multiple visuals on one page. With these dashboards, you can filter your data by type or range and the visuals will change automatically based on your inputs. 

A CIO dashboard in Power BI is made specifically to help CIOs perform their daily tasks and make big-picture decisions.. The dashboard features data and visuals related to the company’s IT strategy and technological needs. 

Why do CIOs need a dashboard like this? Today’s CIOs are expected to do more than ever. They must:

  • Manage IT staff schedules and performance;
  • Balance the budget;
  • Hire appropriate IT experts in every field;
  • Oversee software patches and security rollouts; and
  • Educate themselves on innovations that will drive the company forward; and more. 

CIOs often take most criticism when things go wrong with IT. One misstep or bad decision can have lasting consequences. This is why more CIOs are relying on tools like CIO dashboards in Power BI. It helps them to stay on top of staffing needs and to delegate tasks to individual team members. Data-driven CIO decisions are less likely to involve costly mistakes.

Creating a CIO Dashboard in Power BI 

Make a list of all of your responsibilities at the organization. You should make at least one dashboard for every task. These may include: 

  • Data logs: You can connect your CIO dashboard in Power BI to Microsoft’s Azure Activity Logs. This allows you to see how your data is being used and identify problems immediately. In Power BI, this information is displayed in a chart of your choice and is automatically updated whenever the SQL database is refreshed. You can check this log every day for potential issues.
  • Compliance states: Power BI linked to Intune Data Warehouse enables you to see device configurations and whether these devices are fully compliant based on your organization’s standards.
  • IT troubleshooting: CIO dashboards in Power BI can be designed to include data about server status, security issues, and devices requiring software patches. You can see which devices or hardware are currently posing a problem and get them fixed before they lead to excessive downtime or security breaches.
  • Sales, market trends, and budget: There are many visual templates for tracking these metrics in Power BI. Sales, market trends, and budgets affect the IT department and determine how much the CIO can spend on upgrades.
  • IT project tracking: CIO dashboards in Power BI include Gantt charts that can track project progress and show whether teams are meeting deadlines. 
  • Assessing current IT strategies: CIOs can keep scorecards or track KPIs for new staff members or third-party vendors to ensure that the services they provide are actually bringing value to the organization. 
  • Downtime analysis: When the system goes down, a dashboard can track when and why it happened and identify downtime trends that CIOs can use to prevent it from happening again in the future. 

If you’re still unsure exactly how to organize your CIO dashboard in Power BI, break your tasks down into one of the following categories and keep similar tasks together on a single dashboard: 

  1. Portfolio management. This includes project budgets, schedules, deadlines, staffing, staff performance, and project risk analysis. 
  2. IT health. This includes data or tasks related to downtime and uptime, training, maintenance, software patches, hardware upgrades, and changes that will reduce operational costs. 
  3. Troubleshooting and customer satisfaction. This is any data related to customer surveys, how long it takes for customers to receive help from IT staff, and how quickly IT staff can fix problems. 
  4. Big picture decisioning. Working with upper management, you can identify the core business principles that your organization follows and track overall IT performance to test whether it aligns with those drivers. For example, if your organization wants to respond to customer inquiries within 24 hours, CIOs can track this metric and ensure that IT staff are also following this company-wide guideline. This is also where you can analyze the budget to determine whether you have the resources you need to introduce a new IT strategy

You have so many possibilities when you build a CIO dashboard in Power BI. However, the system does have its limitations

Should You Make a CIO Dashboard in Power BI? 

The main limitation of Power BI is that it only tracks data after the fact. When something happens, Power BI logs it right away, but if you want to find out whether something will happen, you’re out of luck. This is a problem for CIOs because they have a responsibility to come up with forward-thinking solutions. 

For this reason, many CIOs are hiring third-party dashboard experts to link CIO dashboards in Power BI to predictive analytics software. This gives them the power to make accurate predictions. By combining Power BI visuals with machine learning algorithms, CIOs can: 

  • See how easy or difficult it would be to change the IT strategy;
  • Analyze hardware or software vulnerabilities and limitations; and
  • Project future budgets and technical requirements; and more. 

While CIOs should incorporate CIO dashboards into their workflows right now, they must also consider future needs. By discussing their options with a data analytics firm, CIOs can maximize the use and ROI of this technology. 

Are you looking for an easy way to manage your IT staff and make better data-driven decisions? Contact Tek Leaders today to learn more about our dashboard services. Our team of Power BI experts can build a custom CIO dashboard that tracks data in real time and can predict the outcomes of your decisions. To get a free audit of your current IT strategy, you can reach us by email directly.

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The Best Dashboard Database Design for Your Company

You’re driving down a long stretch of highway and aren’t sure whether you should refuel now or at the next gas station about 30 miles away. You glance down at your car’s fuel gauge and see that you still have enough gas to get you through the next 50 miles, at least. So, you decide to drive on.

Database dashboards work in the same way as vehicle dashboards. They display the most important information right up front so that you can make the best decisions.

However, unlike the dashboard of your car, your company’s dashboard database design is much more complex. In some cases, you have to display hundreds of numbers and dozens of metrics on a single dashboard to get the most accurate view of what’s happening.

Effective dashboard database design distills all of this complicated information down to its simplest and most visually-engaging form. There are six design principles that will help you get the most out of your dashboard:

  1. Base your design on business-related questions. 
  2. Design for your end-user or audience. 
  3. Select the most accurate visuals
  4. Tell a story in the design. 
  5. Keep the graphic elements simple. 
  6. Use color to your advantage.

By following these six tips, you’ll create a beautiful and interactive dashboard database design to drive all of your future decisions.

How to Get the Best Dashboard Database Design

Tip #1: Ask Questions Upfront

One of the biggest mistakes that companies make when they create dashboards is that they try to cram too much information onto a single page. This results in an overly-complicated dashboard that doesn’t tell you what steps you need to take to make your business more successful.

To prevent this, start by asking what you want to achieve with your dashboard database design. Asking business-related questions helps you to drill down to what’s important. Your dashboard will answer these very specific questions, rather than attempting to cover everything all at once.

Examples:

  1. How many new customers did we get this month? How did this compare to last month?
  2. What are our top 10 products? Why are these products so popular? 
  3. How is our marketing team performing? How do we improve performance?

The more specific the questions, the more effective your dashboard database design will be. You’ll see exactly which metrics to track to get the right answers.

Tip #2: Design for Your Audience 

Once you have a list of business-related questions you’d like to answer with your dashboard database design, consider who is going to look at the information. Is your audience a group of employees or your CFO? They’ll want to see different things in the design.

For example, upper management and stakeholders likely want to see big-picture figures that will help them steer the company in the right direction. If you include daily operational metrics in the dashboard design, you’ll only muddy the waters and make their jobs more difficult.

Likewise, your employees want to know what they should be doing differently to reach their individual goals. If the dashboard is too broad in scope, they’ll struggle to see their roles in the company’s overarching strategy.

To decide on the right dashboard database design for your audience, choose one of the three most popular dashboard styles:

  • Strategic dashboards for tracking individual goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
  • Operational dashboards for managers to monitor systematic efficiency, like time to market or equipment maintenance records. 
  • Analytical dashboards for tracking larger market trends and big picture KPIs that stakeholders want to see.

All of these dashboards are designed with similar layouts but different visuals and metrics.

Tip #3: Choose the Right Visuals for the Job 

Visuals can be misleading. For example, if you’re missing key data sets, then the visual representation of the information won’t be accurate. Another common problem is choosing the wrong type of visual to display the data.

To prevent this problem, your dashboard database should have access to all of the data you currently have in storage. Your in-house IT team or a third-party dashboard database designer can help you connect your data warehouse or cloud storage source directly to the dashboard.

You should also choose the best visual representation for each data set. There are four main types of visuals:

  • Comparisons that show the difference between two or more sets of data;
  • Relationships that show how two or more sets of data correlate;
  • Distributions that group data by commonalities or values; and
  • Compositions that break data down into new categories, so you can drill down to get a more detailed look.

The best dashboard database designs feature a combination of these four types of visuals. By analyzing the data from multiple angles using a few different custom visuals, you’ll get a much fuller picture of what’s happening at your company.

Tip #4: Tell a Story in the Design 

What’s the best way to organize all of these visual elements on the dashboard? You should structure the information like a news story.

This means placing all of the most important data at the very top of the dashboard. Even if the stakeholder or employee only glances at the information at the top, they’ll understand the key insights. Your supporting visuals then go under these essential visuals—they are more detailed and enrich your understanding of the data.

For example, a well-structured dashboard database design includes:

  • Top visuals: Big picture insights (e.g. a heat map showing total mortgage amount by county);
  • Middle visuals: Trends that support these insights (e.g. a line and bar graph comparing total mortgage amounts to goals set earlier in the year); and
  • Bottom visuals: Individual performance KPIs or operational details that lead to the figures above (e.g. a chart showing individual loan officer performance).

When you structure your dashboard database design in this way, you make it easier for people to connect with the data through compelling visual storytelling.

Tip #5: Keep it Simple 

It’s easy to get carried away when you design a new dashboard from scratch. Many organizations pack as much information into the dashboard as possible because they believe it will lead to better insights. However, the opposite is usually true. Too many visuals or data sets on the page will only confuse people and make it harder to see what truly matters.

A clean, simple dashboard database design is most effective. Not only does this make your dashboard look more polished and professional, but it also is easier to use on a daily basis. Users know exactly where to input data or filter results. They also know where to find crucial information so they can take immediate action.

Include no more than about five to ten visuals or widgets on a single dashboard. Your entire dashboard should also fit on a single screen without requiring users to scroll down. This allows them to see everything at once. It also makes it easy to adjust data filters and see how the visuals change in response.

Tip #6: Make it Colorful 

Cohesive color schemes serve two purposes in dashboard database design:

  1. They make it easier to quickly understand the data on display. 
  2. They lend the dashboard a more professional look.

For example, if you color-code the data so that profits are shown in green and deficits are shown in red, stakeholders will instantly know whether the figures are overall positive or negative. You can also show different gradients of color to represent information, such as in heat maps.

You also have the option to choose background colors that match your company’s logo or official color scheme. When presenting this information to stakeholders, potential investors, or others outside of your organization, this makes your dashboards and reports look more authoritative.

How to Create the Best Dashboard Database Design 

Dashboard database design is both a science and an art. You need to be familiar with how to link the dashboard to data sources, program interactive components, and create innovative visuals based on data science best practices—but you also need to weave a compelling story and make a beautiful, user-friendly dashboard.

Combining all of these traits can be time-consuming and challenging, particularly if you don’t have a data science or graphic design background. By hiring a third-party dashboard database designer, you’ll save time and effort. Dashboard experts will:

  • Connect all of your data to the dashboard;
  • Build a dashboard that answers key business strategy questions;
  • Choose the most appropriate visuals for each data set; and
  • Customize the dashboard based on staff workflows and your business philosophy.

Having a fully-customized dashboard built by data science experts lets you identify the key insights and trends that will help your business blossom.


If you’re ready to build aesthetic and functional dashboards for your organization, contact Tek Leaders today. We create custom dashboard database designs from scratch that help organizations gain valuable insights. If you have more questions about our design process, you can reach us by email directly.

Author: Shashank Reddy Tummala.

Shashank is the COO of Tek Leaders inc.He helps SMB’s to achieve their goals in their journey of Digital Transformation.

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