In this excerpt from Key Performance Indicators: Developing, Implementing and Using Winning KPIs, readers will
find 12 key performance indicator (KPI) dashboard examples and KPI scorecard examples. Each example includes bullet points on what features of the dashboard design are strong, so you can take the best design practices and use them to create your own customized KPI executive dashboards and business scorecards.
Graph Format Examples
Exhibits 5.11 through 5.22 provide graphs for demonstration purposes only. The KPI team will need to be experts in graphical displays, ensuring, in each case, that the graph chosen conveys the appropriate message.
Good Features in Exhibit 5.11
- Use of a five-point scale
- Grid lines to highlight “nearly 40% of all participants were satisfied with . . .”
When showing this graph in color, you may wish to use red for very dissatisfied as a warning.
Good Features in Exhibit 5.12
- A clear summary of a number of activities
- Graph incorporates an “overall” score
This graph would be shown with a yellow background.
Good Features in Exhibit 5.13
- Particularly useful for survey responses
The vertical gridlines are lightly shaded.
Good Features in Exhibit 5.14
- Ease of sector comparison
- Overall trends clearly displayed
- Groups easily differentiated
Best suited for multi-company/unit comparison where similar units can be compared.
Good Features in Exhibit 5.15
- Two-line combination graph comparing financial and nonfinancial information
- Lines shaded to match the scales
Notice that the vertical scales do not match up—there are four divisions on the left and six on the right-hand side scale. It is always best to match them up.
Good Features in Exhibit 5.16
- A sparkline graph looks like a line graph without the axes. Even with this truncated diagram you can still see the trend. These sparkline graphs come with bullet graphs that show different details about current performance. The shades are good to poor performance and the dark vertical line the target. The large bullet points indicate where action needs to be taken.
EXHIBIT 5.16 Combination of Sparkline and Bullet Graphs
Source: Stephen Few at www.perceptualedge.com
This color matching aids identification of results and comprehension. Note that gridlines match up. Both vertical scales have same number of divisions.
Good Features in Exhibit 5.17
- A stacked bar graph for ease of display of both total and individual costs and not too many components (Four to five items is about the maximum.)
Good Features in Exhibit 5.18
- Horizontal multibar graph allowing easy comprehension and comparison
Good Features in Exhibit 5.19
- Multiline graph showing a 15-month range with three clearly identifiable revenue streams
Good Features in Exhibit 5.20
- Demonstrates acceptable range of performance as well as indicating that improvement is being sought over time (cascading downward target)
Good Features in Exhibit 5.21
Ready comparison between actual/forecast and budget for two significant items of expenditure covering the year in focus
Note that the budget year-to-date trend is not drawn in, as it would be a straight line in most cases, and where there is a seasonal trend the line would be merely an error-prone guess.
Good Features in Exhibit 5.22
Three lines beginning as actual and moving on to forecast
It is a good idea to show a clear distinction between actual and forecast numbers by changing the color of the line (e.g., from dark blue to light blue).
The checklist in Exhibit 5.23 will help ensure that your graphs help in the decision-making process.
EXHIBIT 5.23 Better-Practice Graphics Checklist
|Check as appropriate|
|1. Insert graphs into tables in a Word document to enable formatted text to be placed underneath or to the side without the need for complex tab arrangements. Graphs will also auto size to the width of the table when pasted, saving formatting time.||_ Yes _ No|
|2. Where possible, show at least 15-month trend analysis.|
|3. Avoid more than three trend lines per graph, as they probably will cross over numerous times and cause confusion.||_ Yes _ No|
|4. In line graphs, thicken the standard line to allow colors to stand out.||_ Yes _ No|
|5. Use a pale-yellow background to maximize color impact.||_ Yes _ No|
|6. Avoid more than five divisions in a stacked bar.||_ Yes _ No|
|7. Wherever possible, print in color.||_ Yes _ No|
|8. Use high-quality glossy paper for the final copy.||_ Yes _ No|
|9. Put the title of the graph in the table rather than on the graph to enable an 11th-hour change without having to go back to the source graph.||_ Yes _ No|
|10. Make the graph title mean something (e.g., instead of RoCE, say “RoCE is improving”; instead of EBIT, say “EBIT is declining but expected to recover.”)||_ Yes _ No|
|11. Organize workbooks so that worksheet names clearly show which graphs are in each worksheet.|
|12. Limit graphs to four per worksheet so that they can be viewed on one screen. This also avoids searching for graphs six months later when you have forgotten which worksheet they are in.||_ Yes _ No|
|13. Keep it simple; there are many graphical options that do not convey their message quickly (e.g., radar, bubble, and 3D surface graphs are so difficult to read that two individuals can read the same graph and end up with very different conclusions).||_ Yes _ No|
|14. When paste-linking graphs into the document, select the manual link option as opposed to automatic. Word attempts to update all automatic links when opening a document, and this can corrupt graphs or lock the computer if the source worksheet was not opened first.||_ Yes _ No|
|15. Integrate graphs with the text. Do not place graphs in an appendix.||_ Yes _ No|
|16. Have read Stephen Few’s work on graph and dashboard design.||_ Yes _ No|
|17. When creating a graph using Excel, change the font to disable auto-sizing or the text will always dominate the graph when enlarged.||_ Yes _ No|
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Ten key performance indicator (KPI) templates for your dashboards
- Creating key performance indicator (KPI) reports and dashboard design
- Twelve KPI dashboard examples & KPI scorecard examples to get started
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