Creating dashboards that your management team will actually review is a tricky task. I spent the last year of my community management career heavily focusing on reporting and community objectives, and thought I'd share what I learned with the broader community tribe.
- Map to Your Business Objectives
This one is the no-brainer, that everyone in the world recommends, but it actually works. :) If you don't map to your business objectives you might be waking up in the morning feeling like your work doesn't matter. Mapping to these goals helps to put purpose behind your work, and also makes your execs pay closer attention. If you can prove that your work is helping them to achieve their overall number, then it puts a lot of value on your role & community efforts.
If you're not sure how to map reports to business objectives, check out last week's blog post for tips: How to Create a Community Dashboard that Maps to your Business Objectives
- Keep it Short
VPs and C-level executives don't have a lot of time to be reviewing reports. They need the most important insight right up front, ideally in a large-point font and with graphs to illustrate. This means, they're not going to be interested in every lower level metric that you track and that's ok! Its your job to keep on top of the tactical, day-to-day performance, and their job to monitor trends. Keep the dashboard short, sweet, and easy to understand... they'll thank you for it.
- Include Context
Most reports don't make sense unless you have context. Since your management team is likely not involved in the day-to-day happenings of the community, it's really important to include a few sentences clarifies the importance behind the report. Adding context is especially important if you have a dashboard that covers multiple functional areas (which most should!)
- Embrace Your Inner Graphic Designer
That might be taking it a little far, but make sure you pay attention to the overall layout of the dashboard. Be mindful of your headers, horizontal break lines, and white space. Mix up your text/ number heavy tables with a colorful graph or chart. Smashing too many reports together makes the dashboard look chaotic, which is not an adjective that you want aligned with your work as a community professional. Additionally, if you have to incorporate data from multiple sources, it's often easiest to build your own reporting template and manually update it each week. (Sorry!)
- Delivery Matters
How you deliver the dashboard is equally important as how it looks. It doesn't matter how amazing, useful, or otherwise wonderful your dashboard is if your audience doesn't want to log into your tool to view. Find out how your team wants to receive this information, and then get to work to make it happen! If email is the requested delivery method, investigate whether or not your reporting platform can automatically schedule reports to be emailed out on a repeating basis.
I know many of you out there are interested in analyzing community data (it kinda comes with the job!), so let me know what you think! What are your tips for making sure your community dashboards are actually reviewed by your management team? What doesn't work?
I originally wrote this post in November 2013 for the Get Satisfaction community. See the original here.