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Virginia MausMarch 29, 20233 min read

Is your dashboard ready to retire?

Are you drowning in reports and dashboards? Are they becoming cumbersome to maintain? Are you getting requests for dashboards alarmingly similar to the ones you have already created? It may be time for spring cleaning. Many dashboards fill a very important role for only a short amount of time.

From Exciting to Extinct

Do you recall a dashboard that had 15 minutes of fame when it revealed a revenue-sucking operational gap? Leadership practically ate breakfast with it every day until the problem was resolved.  All of a sudden, it was yesterday’s news and they were off to explore new, more exciting, data unknowns.  Now you’re left with a dashboard being kept alive by its successful legacy, but usually only opened on accident.  It's especially bleak when operations have changed so much it doesn’t represent the current process.

When evaluating your dashboards (which should be done on a regular basis), there are three options for ones that aren’t being used: retire it, give it a second chance, or make a low-maintenance version.

Option 1: Retire It

If it isn’t valuable anymore, why do we have it?  What does it mean to be a valuable dashboard?  It is ideal to review all reports/dashboards annually with their respective business owners. Here are some questions to ask to determine if retirement is imminent.

  • Has it been used in the last 90 days?
  • How many people are using it?
  • Is there something similar already out there?
  • What action is being taken based on this data?
  • Why is this information needed?
  • What if it wasn’t available?

Option 2: Give It a Second Chance

Hold on!  Before you delete that dashboard and walk away, there is a chance that you have found a dashboard that isn’t being used because no one knew it existed.  This dashboard never even had its 15 minutes of fame!  It was thoughtfully created and curated for well-intentioned use, but it got “lost in the shuffle.”  Here are some questions to ask before giving this dashboard a second act.

  • Is there a clear owner?
  • Does the owner trust the data?
  • Does the owner have access?
  • Is there any training that would help the users?
  • How is this information being viewed today?
  • What action will be taken on this data?
  • When should we follow up to see if this dashboard is adding value?

Option 3: Create a Low Maintenance Version

There are some dashboards that you just can’t get rid of for a variety of reasons –  even if you really want to.  Is there an important stakeholder that is attached to it? Is it being used for very infrequent, but important, auditing? Your new approach to this dashboard is to make it as simplistic and automated as possible.  Remove unnecessary visuals, document the intent clearly, and ensure business users know where to find it.  If possible, automate the data updates and set notifications for issues instead of having to monitor. You can ask yourself these questions to see if a low-maintenance version might be a good fit. 

  • Which parts of this dashboard are being used?
  • How often does it need to be updated?
  • Can it be updated less often?
  • Are there any manual steps in maintaining this dashboard?
  • Would we be able to replace this dashboard with a notification?
  • Is leadership using this dashboard?
  • Do auditors need access?

Know When Your Dashboard Adds Value

A valuable dashboard should be a well-used dashboard.  An annual review of dashboards can keep your team aligned with the business’s ever-changing needs.  Alternatively, setting up a way to monitor the usage of a dashboard will guide you to those that need the most review.  

You might be a dashboard creator, reviewer, user, or guru, but even the best of the best sometimes need a little support. If you are looking for guidance in your data science and analytics practice, contact us- we're here to help. 


Virginia Maus

Virginia is a problem solver who is passionate about using the power of data to make informed decisions. She wants to lead your most undefined, innovative, and challenging projects with clear communication and genuinely collaborative execution. To her, energy comes from building relationships and taking action to make a positive, infectious impact on the world.