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A dashboard can be defined as a visual display of the most essential information required to attain certain objectives; collated and arranged on a single screen in a way that the information can be monitored at a glance.
It was introduced by Apple Inc along with the release of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. Generally the term ‘dashboard’ is used synonymously with ‘report’ or a ‘progress report’ and is displayed on web page that is linked to a database which updates the report regularly.
Some of the important characteristics of a dashboard are:
• All the information should be fitted on to a single screen and one need not scroll to see any visualization.
• It shows the key performance measures or indicators to me monitored.
• Certain interactive activities like drill-down or filtering could be used in a dashboard but not for the purpose of finding out which performance measures are under performing.
• It is designed more to be used by the general workforce and should be simple and easy to understand.
• The information on the dashboard should be updated automatically without any support from the user. However the frequency of updates depends on the requirement by the organization. Effective dashboards should update data daily.
• A great dashboard should have lot of important data, few colors, smart graphs, nice design and time overview (sparkliness).
Dashboards can be of different types to serve different purposes. A human resource dashboard may show data related to employee recruitment, retention like number of vacancies, average cost per recruitment etc. Similarly a manufacturing dashboard may have data like number of parts manufactured, number of inspections per hour etc. Three main categories of digital dashboards are prevalent in the market: independent software applications, internet-browser based applications, and desktop applications which are also known as desktop widgets. A digital dashboard helps the manager of an organization to track the performance of their employees, contribution of various departments and thereby capturing a snapshot of the overall performance of the firm.