One of the things QlikView is great at is dashboards. In fact the word Document and Dashboard seem to have become interchangeable when talking about QlikView files – even when the content is in no way a dashboard. Why is this?

First up, let’s define a dashboard. To my mind it is a display of data on a single page to convey as much pertinent information as possible in that physical space.  I am sure there are many other definitions, but that will do me.

Given that, as soon as you add any ‘dive to detail’ you have made your QlikView document surpass the constraints of a dashboard. On the other hand there are many QlikView documents that fail to deliver the punch of a dashboard on the front page.  For example; Sales by Month is something that changes slowly and management should already know the history of it – so all this chart adds is a slight movement in the last point of the line each time it is viewed – yet it often appears on pages designed as dashboards.  Think carefully what you want to see or deliver on this first page.

The term dashboard comes from the console on a car.  These generally show very few measures – but they are all you need to get to where you are going safely and without incident. You do not need to know miles travelled per month for the last year – but a single red light for low oil is essential.   Bear this in mind when creating your dashboard – stick to the essentials.

Low Oil!

The car analogy is helpful – but it has spawned one of the biggest design crimes out there –  the over use of the dial gauge.  These look good, but are major space hogs for the amount of information they convey.  Typically displaying a percentage of some kind, the same information can be displayed simply in plain text. The colour the needle sits in is a useful indicator (us humans read a lot into colour) but that colour can be displayed in the colour the percentage text is written in or it’s background. Before filling your document with gauges consider if it is actually the best display object for what you want to show.

Dial vs. Text

My final thought on dashboards in QlikView is around whether they should be static or dynamic. I have been requested to build a number of scorecards that ignore any selections made (thank you {1}).  However, doesn’t this deny one of QlikView’s biggest advantages?  Well, I always steer people toward using selections, cycle groups and variables to maximize re-use of components and to get the most information packed into a small space.  The customer is always right though and a static display may be exactly what they need.   It certainly allows a conclusion to be drawn from a five second glance – one of the things a dashboard should always deliver.

At the end of the day the most important thing is that the document delivers on the business need it is designed to meet. Encourage a good deal of thought to go into the first couple of tabs and always listen to the needs of the key users.

Whether you call you QlikView document a dashboard, scorecard, business analysis tool, on-line board pack or multi dimensional insight engine – is then entirely up to you.