Three types of Dashboards

Types of dashboards: Is it possible to classify dashboards into their types?

Visibility into their most important data, metrics and KPIs can help organizations in numerous ways. From fostering a culture of continuous improvement and alignment,  management can save upon time and money in making crucial business decisions and performance monitoring.

Mohita Jaiswal

This can be achieved through Dashboards which are fast becoming the new age aggregator of such a business intelligence. As front-end interfaces that distill data sets into simple insights using data visualizations, dashboards allow users to interact with the data and take actions. 

Yet not all organizations use dashboards and nor all dashboards able to meet the goals of different businesses and executives completely. 

What is often found missing is the essential intervention of designing dashboards based on a crucial understanding of the kind of dashboards to be created, which is often not inquired into, at prior.  When you need to create a dashboard that is useful and actionable, it is valuable to consider the know-how of the different types of dashboards which can be created, and then make a choice which is most ideal for your own context.


Classifying and identifying your dashboard is based on the question you are addressing. 

What is the purpose of your dashboard?

Before developing the dashboard metrics, it is important to first identify what you hope to achieve by using a dashboard. This can amount to a creation that aligns with the goals of a department or the company’s overall strategy.

1. Operational Dashboard: When you need to monitor things and processes

Operational Dashboards monitor business processes that frequently change and track the current performance of key metrics and KPIs. facilitating the operational side of a business. 

The data updates can vary frequently, even on a minute-by-minute basis. They are hence designed to be viewed multiple times throughout the day.  

They are often used to monitor progress towards a target. 

An example is a Website Overview Dashboard which can track hourly web performance against a set of predetermined objectives for a digital marketing team.

2. Strategic Dashboard: When you need a  high-level overview of business, opportunities and issues.

Strategic Dashboards can help to understand the overall health of the organization,  the position of various business functions together with opportunities and issues. This is achieved by monitoring the status of key performance indicators (KPIs) and can be used and reviewed to make key decisions

The data behind a strategic dashboard updates on a recurring basis, but at less frequent intervals than an operational dashboard. 

Strategic dashboards may be viewed once a day, and assist executives in staying on top of KPIs throughout the business.

The success of digital dashboard projects often depends on the metrics that were chosen for monitoring. Key performance indicators, balanced scorecards, and sales performance figures are some of the content appropriate for business dashboards.

3. Analytical Dashboards: When you need to identify trends which help you to make smart decisions.

An analytical dashboard is a reporting tool which can be used to analyze large volumes of data when users are required to investigate trends, predict outcomes, and discover insights. These dashboards are more common within business intelligence tools because they are typically developed and designed by and for data analysts. 

The data behind an analytical dashboard needs to be accurate and up-to-date, and may only be updated infrequently. 

Analytical dashboards often include advanced BI features like drill-down and ad-hoc querying – allowing the user to explore more of the data and get different insights. 

You can discover valuable insights in order to improve your business efficiency. These dashboards allow users to interact with data exploration and uncover fresh insights with filters, brushing, series selection, data drilling, and other features.

Who are the people/audience for your dashboard?

Understanding who our intended audience is and the scope of their requirements allows dashboards to be designed as per the relevance of usage. The most effectively designed dashboards either target a single type of user or display data specific to a particular ‘use case’. 

1. Company Dashboards: When you need a company-wide dashboard

The size of the company can determine the elements to feature in a dashboard, for example as in a smaller organization, the executive dashboard is likely to include KPI data across all departments. Dashboards can be designed for the entire company when needed.

2. Department Dashboards: When you need to monitor, overview or analyze department-based data.

Different departments might have different needs to monitor, overview or analyze their department-specific data to draw deeper insights and make actions. Large organizations might need a dashboard reporting crucial insights for each department, for Marketing, HR, Finance, Support, Development or Operations, etc.

3. Individual Dashboards: When you need Dashboards to serve the needs of Individual users

At times different individuals might need different level of insights to take actions as specific to their roles. For eg. financial data is required to be available to the company executives in a way such that it can help them to take strategic decisions, giving them an overview of threats and opportunities. While the same data needs to available to analysts for further drill down’s so that they could further analyze and feed in the insights to improving current processes and performance. When users, executives, analysts and suppliers need role-based information to take actions, individual dashboards are the way to go.

What is the regularity of use for your dashboards?

Ensuring that your dashboard data is being refreshed at the right intervals saves time during development. Why should one go through the pain of sourcing real-time data, when all you need is a weekly feed? Knowing the regularity of your data update required can ensure optimal performance once the dashboard is live.

1. Real-time (or near real-time) Dashboard

When you need intimation of real-time process anomalies and need to make quick decisions: As a rule of thumb, operational dashboards require data in real-time or near real-time

2. Daily, weekly, monthly Dashboard

When you need to look at your dashboards less frequently: These are generally used for strategic purposes when data refresh is required on a less frequent basis.

What is the level of granularity required for your dashboard?

Dashboard at times is focused on a single topic and shows high level, aggregate KPIs as well as specific details that could provide more context or insight.

1. Top-Down Dashboard

When you need an overview of specific metrics: This dashboard type is good for focusing on a specific segment of an organization. Users can monitor a key metric at glance and/or drill into why a pattern might be occurring. It is good for organization leads and middle management who are responsible for overseeing or managing a discrete component of an organization. However, this should not be used for presenting a comprehensive view of complex organizations because the dashboard can easily become overwhelming.

2. Granular Dashboard

This type of dashboard is good for analysts to monitor or visually analyze specific issues and patterns across a large number of data points. The analyst would presumably have a strong understanding of the data and context of what is being presented. Such a dashboard is although not good for seeing aggregate patterns across an organization or easily answering specific questions.

When designing a dashboard it is of value to remember:

The type of dashboard you need depends on a number of factors including who will use it, how it will be used, how often, and in what medium.

  • What is the purpose of your Dashboard?
  • Who is it for?
  • What amount of detail and level of interactivity is required?
  • What is the regularity of data refresh required?
Dashboards are designed for users who are actively monitoring and analyzing the data and may be less suitable for users who require high-level, non-interactive data. Understanding the context of our challenges and the different types of dashboards, which can or cannot suit them can ensure dashboards serve their purpose and are consumable for their audience.
Mohita Jaiswal

Mohita Jaiswal

Research, Strategy and Content consultant. With a master's from IIT Delhi, Mohita has diverse experience across domains of technical research, big data, leadership development and arts in education. Having a keen interest in the science of human behavior, she looks at enabling holistic learning experiences, working at the intersection of technology, design, and human psychology.


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