Dashboards – information where you need it

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“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

I recently stumbled upon this statement in a nice blog entry from Tom Fishburne. Of course a very true statement. Designing and setting up Dashboards that are meaningful can be a tedious task. Also the focus on Dashboards should be to deliver the right information in the right format top the person.

At SpiceCRM we see Dashboards as central point for interaction and a good starting point to get a point of view what is happening and what is ongoing. This might contain charts – hopefully no meaningless, but also all other forms of information. A dashboard might also contain interactive elements that make it easier for a user to record data or e.g. collect trip expenses o report to a timesheet.

The main building blocks we see towards dashboards are:

  • out of the box dashboards that summarize view on data in the CRM systems aggregated and prepared for the user to drive the operational tasks and make sure nothing gets lost. This might be Dashlet like open tasks or top Opportunities, open Service Calls etc.
  • Reports and visual presentation of data. Where we use our built in reporting capabilities to deeper analyze, aggregate and present data in all kind of ways. And of course we can do pretty maps as well. 😉
  • Interactive Elements – that allow collection of data like standard dashlets to collect project activities towards a time-sheet.
  • third party content: where we can also aggregate other sources of information and embed that information. This can come from all kind of sources internally or externally – as long as it matter to the person using the CRM this is valid and might also add to a structured dashboard

Flexibility Matters

A key aspect is that Dashboards matter for the user and the role the users are assigned to. The complete concept of SpiceCRM is role driven enabling a system administrator or power user to customize the system so it matches the workflows and requirements of specific users performing their tasks. This starts at dashboards and ends at specific view or other definitions. But lets stay focused on dashboards.

The Dashboard Editor allows:

  • easy creation of new dashboard (globally or user specific)
  • flexible arrangement of dashlets with varying sizes and position

SpiceCRM comes with a predefined set of Dashlets (that is currently being further developed and growing). As with all the other options our focus is utter flexibility. So additional dashlets can easily be defined with custom defined filters, fieldsets etc.). The built in reporter allows easy definition of reports that then also can be published as dashlets with a graphical representation, a chart or a list.

So yes .. not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can b counted. But a good junk of what you need will fall in the category and we believe that flexible dashboards are essential to making a CRM tool useful and have users that want to use it and see the benefit.

And with the data being presented in real time the “chart that hasn’t been updated lately” is also a thing o the past.