Best Practice: When to Use Dashboards vs Reports
What are the key value adds for reports and dashboards?
Reports and dashboards create a contextualized narrative that displays relevant data and information at the right time.
While there are some similarities between reports and dashboards, they can each be better suited for specific situations.
Here is a quick reference that you can use to decide whether or not you should use a dashboard or report.
Use a report if you are wanting to communicate something. This can be for a board meeting, vendor update, or business analysis!
Use a dashboard if you are wanting to monitor something. This can be useful for team meetings or for leadership to keep an eye on certain data sets!
Reports - Communicate
Reports allow a user to select a set of data based on the context and narrative that they are trying to communicate, and streamline this data in a format that is easily shareable - enabling them to effectively and efficiently communicate said data.
Three key use cases for reports are - business analysis (inward) around a certain set of initiatives (a team's, a project's, a departments) to assess opportunities, challenges, and risks; strategy reports (upward) to communicate upward to include strategic updates, timelines, resources, and required support/resources; performance reports (outward) around individuals, teams, or projects to communicate downward/outward - for partners, customers, vendors, suppliers, other teams.
Other advanced use cases for reports are board meetings, strategic evaluations/analyses to set goals, and more.
Dashboards - Monitor
Dashboards leverage mostly visual elements to enable a user to monitor key sets of data or metrics to allow them to maintain visibility around what is important and relevant to them.
Dashboards are excellent to use for weekly meetings or for leaders to monitor key areas of the strategy.