What have you used to build a business intelligence dashboard?


We're putting together a dashboard that highlights some key metrics (helpdesk performance, website performance, distribution, reach, cost centres, digital asset volume, etc) do any of you have experience putting something like this together? If so, what tools did you use?

Our current plan is simply a custom solution comprised of XML web services, some handcrafted data crunching and javascript charting libraries for the presentation layer. Any better solutions would be welcome.

And yes, this is intended to be a "business overview" dashboard, so it doesn't need to be particularly explorable.

Analytics Business Intelligence

asked Dec 24 '09 at 02:13
Joseph Fung
1,542 points
  • Where is Paradox 2010 when we need it? :) – Tcolling 14 years ago

6 Answers


I have read a few articles written by Juice Analytics. They seem pretty thoughtful. They also have an opensource framework. I haven't used it, so can't give you a personal review, but it may meet your needs.

On data visualization in general, Edward Tufte's website is a great resource. There are no toolkits there, but just ideas and concepts. He will talk you out of building pressure-gauges, speedometers and look alikes (that we normally see in enterprise software) and instead focus on presenting information in a manner that really benefits the users.

answered Dec 24 '09 at 02:42


For running my company, I've found that web-based dashboards are overkill. We tried them, but they were not flexible enough for our fast-changing environment.

We use Excel instead. We've created an Excel worksheet with several tabs, each of which has a particular type of data (sales, revenue, expenses, and our various other key metrics). The first tab of the worksheet has several graphs that pull the data in from the other tabs.

There are a few advantages of this:

  • It's easy to add new metrics and graphs - we don't need a developer to do it, and it only takes a few minutes
  • It's easy to pull data in from other sources - we pull our pipeline data in from SalesForce using their free Excel-to-SalesForce plug-in
  • It's easy to share with other folks - I can just delete the tabs I don't want to share and email them a copy of the spreadsheet
  • It's easy to do scenario planning - I can fiddle with the data in the spreadsheet to see what it would look like if we closed a big deal (or lost a big deal), etc.
answered Dec 24 '09 at 05:16
Michael Trafton
3,141 points
  • As embarrassing as it is to say we do the same thing. We have someone put this together and share it. It allows us complete flexibility to pack as much info on 1 page as we can fit since excel is so flexible. And no programming maintenance required. – Dane 14 years ago


Sounds like you have the resources to build whatever you want, so I'm not sure anything you would purchase would be any better. However, you may want to look into some web controls that offer graphs and guages that may provide some real-time data in a usable format.

This is one of my projects for the coming year, so I am interested to see what you find. Our goal is to make sure we build something that will get looked at and used as much as possible. Our data needs are needed daily at best, but we may include some financial market data along side of our data which would be more up to the minute.

answered Dec 24 '09 at 02:25
Jeff O
6,169 points
  • Sounds like our needs are similar: daily usage is the likely use-case. Real-time data would be an added bonus but not a need. Any idea what your time-frame is in the new year? Perhaps we could share notes or collaborate? – Joseph Fung 14 years ago
  • We're finishing up converting all of the reports from a previous system, so we could be ready in the first quarter. – Jeff O 14 years ago


Some of the dashboard objects I have seen and used include:

  • Project Status: All of the projects the company is working on and where they are at.
  • Sales Pipeline: Quotes, PO's, Shipped and paid are all critical sales metrics that are great to see on a dashboard.

The rest of the items you mentioned are great too. I think the real trick to a dashboard is to not make it too cluttered and to really track like 5 critical business parameters. Anymore than that is probably a waste of time.

answered Dec 24 '09 at 02:47
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points


We have built a framework for BAM analytics. We extract data from business process instances and copy to BAM repository. This data is exposed via web services. Users can build custom queries on this data. In the UI side, we have a kind of mashup framework which can be used by business consultants to extract required data and the same can be shown as different kind of graphs in dashboard. We have used fusion chart for building the grapgs.


answered Dec 24 '09 at 04:54
88 points


Pentaho has a very nice dashboard. And it's free.

answered Dec 27 '09 at 09:57
1,342 points

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