Pre-Packaged Dashboards Or Ad Hoc Analysis: What's The Best ?

When you provide pre-packaged dashboards, people want to be able to do ad-hoc analysis. When you give them a powerful BI tool for great ad-hoc analysis..they want pre-packaged dashboards. So what is the best solution, to provide one or the other, or both? We gathered some inspiration from LinkedIn members.

First of all it is important to note that pre-packaged dashboards and ad-hoc analysis tools have different use cases. Dashboards with already in-built queries are often used for a quick overall glance at data (what and how), whereas ad-hoc analysis is used to drill down deeper into the data (why). Pre-packaged dashboards are likely to be more useful to top level management. Ad-hoc analysis may be preferred by analysts and power users.

Why pre-packaged dashboards?

Pre-packaged can bring the quickest ROI, and if this is what an analyst is looking for then there is no reason why a pre-packaged solution could not sufficiently meet the needs of the organization. Getting results to users quickly can be a top priority for some people and pre-packaged functionality can bring speed to the process. Good for general trends and KPI measurement, dashboards should contain a mix of standardized and custom KPI's, as every organization is different, and an out-of-the-box solution is not likely to suit them all.

Why ad-hoc analysis?

Members of the LinkedIn discussion felt strongly that ad-hoc analysis was essential at some point, as pre-packaged dashboards are no replacement for custom analysis. With a pre-packaged solution there is the danger of having a "false sense of security" regarding your results, because of the level of detail a pre-packaged dashboard provides, which can lead to viewers jumping to the wrong conclusions. The order in which they should be used also cropped up in the discussion - and it was established that a pre-packaged dashboard should always be used before ad-hoc analysis. Why? Since it gives everyone a common set of metrics of which to base performance on. If you supply ad-hoc first, different people will begin basing their analyses on different criteria, which makes a useful dashboard more difficult to create. The advantage of ad-hoc reporting is the flexibility it gives.

Conclusion

To achieve the best of both worlds, our team is working hard to build a marketplace with dashboards for your department. Regarding the issue of quick ROI, we are thinking about the pricing of each: depending on number of stars, etc.. so who better to ask than our readers and customers? For a pre-packaged dashboard, with useful KPIs, which is ready within one hour, what would you be willing to pay?

We'd also like to thank those who contributed to the discussions we set up:

From LinkedIn: Christophe Dejoie, Shawn Hayes, Dmitry Gudkov, Ralph Winters, Hrvoje Smolić, Pedro Perfeito.

From Focus.com: Darren Bond, Kevin, Benjamin Breeland, Robert A. Marchello, Gil Hakami.

If you have an opinion on the topic we'd love to hear it too. You can comment on this post, or access the LinkedIn discussion or the Focus.com discussion.