Decision-Ready Dashboard Framework: Discovery

Define Audience > Stakeholder Interviews > Identify Business Questions > Name Fields

The Decision-Ready Dashboard framework ensures that your stakeholders can make decisions after looking at your visualizations. In this introduction to the process, Ryan walks you through the four steps of the framework’s Discovery phase.

Hi, this is Ryan with Playfair Data TV. And in this video, I’m going to be providing an introduction to the Decision-Ready Dashboard framework. And we’re also going to focus on the first of four phases in this framework called Discovery.

The Decision-Ready Dashboard framework is one of several strategic frameworks that I follow in the consulting side of my business. But this one is truly my bread and butter. This is how I run my engagements. Anytime I have a new consulting partner and they want us to create a dashboard in Tableau, I follow the Decision-Ready Dashboard framework is what I call it.

By the way, the genesis for that name comes from the fact that when my end users are done looking at one of my visualizations, I want them to be in a position to make a decision. I want them to be able to do some type of action. I never want to spend 40, 80 hours making a really nice looking visual only for the end user to then say, ‘So what? I don’t know what to do with this’. So my laser focus is on creating things that are going to help my end users make decisions. That’s where the name came from.

This framework includes four different phases– Discovery, Data Preparation, Dashboard Development, and then Distribution. I’m going to walk you through each of these four phases in separate videos.

This first video is going to focus on the steps that are in the Discovery phase of the Decision-Ready Dashboard framework. This involves four steps.

The first thing I do in the Discovery phase is I define the audience. If you’ve been watching other videos at Playfair Data TV, you’ll see that this is the common thread between the Strategy and Storytelling tracks. Almost everything comes back to understanding who your audience is. So I always ask that going into any engagement.

But within the Decision-Ready Dashboard framework, why it’s different and why it’s important to know who the audience is is once I know who those stakeholders are, within this framework, what I do is I talk to them. I interview them individually.

This can look very different, depending on the size of your audience. You know, it’s one thing if you’re just creating a dashboard for yourself and you’re curious about answering some question in data. Obviously, you don’t have anybody to talk to.

This could be as little as a single colleague that is interested in creating a dashboard. If that’s the case, maybe you’re just shooting them an email and asking them what they’re looking for. What things are they trying to answer? Is there anything that they like from other dashboards that you want them to incorporate into your version of it?

But for me, as a consultant, I’m often dealing with large teams of stakeholders. This could be 10 different people that are part of this project that I need to get to know and figure out what’s going to resonate with them so that we can end up with a usable product at the end that, again, helps them make decisions.

The main thing that I am trying to derive out of these interviews are the business questions. You’ll see this on another video on the Strategy track, where I ask ‘vital question number 2‘– what is the measurement of success or the objective? Another way to think about that is, what is the business question? What are we trying to answer? If we don’t know what the business question is and what we’re trying to answer, how do we even know what to visualize?

And this can be a really interesting exercise to talk to the different stakeholders because they’re going to have different opinions. Data visualization is subjective. But what’s really interesting is, a lot of times, we figure out whether or not our stakeholders are aligned on what are our strategic objectives. We might figure out that we’re not all quite rowing in the same direction.

When that’s the case, there are two outcomes to that. One is I can go back to the main manager or the main stakeholder that brought me into the engagement and say, look, people just aren’t aligned. Maybe there’s some type of cultural issue happening where we need to make sure everybody’s on the same page. If we’re playing a game of tug-of-war here, we’ve got to all be tugging in the same direction.

The other outcome that can happen– and this happens frequently– is we just figure out that we have to do more than create one dashboard. If I talk to 10 people, we might figure out that we’ve got four or five different objectives, and maybe we should create a dashboard that addresses each one of those objectives separately. So it might change the scope or the focus of our project.

But it’s really important to just talk to people to mainly figure out what are the business questions. But some other things that I’m trying to figure out are– what’s their level of sophistication within analytics? Are they stuck in a spreadsheet mentality, and they’re not going to be as receptive to more advanced chart types, like a box and whisker plot? I need to know those things. Do they love pie charts and spreadsheets? I need to know that so that I can either help educate them and/or help smooth the transition to chart types that I think might be a little more effective for what they’re trying to solve.

I also like to ask during these interviews to show me, what are your favorite dashboards that you’re currently using? Are there components of those that I can carry over and have represented within my own take on their data? I also like to know the other way, if there’s stuff that they don’t like, or if there’s a specific pain point, or something that’s missing. I want to know all those things because I’m going to do my best to incorporate that into whatever dashboard I end up creating for them.

But the main thing I’m trying to figure out is what are the business questions because that’s what’s going to inform my analysis, as well as how my Tableau dashboard is going to look.

Once I figure out what the business questions are, the fourth and final step during this Discovery phase of the Decision-Ready Dashboard framework is to just name what fields I need to answer those business questions. If I don’t have the data to answer those business questions, I can’t do it. So I just name those. I will document which measures do I need, which dimensions do I need.

And that’s going to be the transition into this next phase of the Decision-Ready Dashboard framework, which is the data preparation, which we’ll talk about in a future video.

But for now, this has been Ryan with Playfair Data TV – thanks for watching!