3. Ease-of-Use is Key

Data visualization tools close the gap between stored data and the people who need it to make fast, data-informed decisions. They address the complexities of working with massive data sets – and make it easy to move from data to instant insight.

But they need to intuitive. For all the training you may provide, nothing helps a reporting project get off the ground better than simple ease-of-use.  Ideally, Visualization tools eliminate the need for the back-and-forth conversation between users and IT (which often leads to misunderstandings and costly overhead) and wasted hours waiting for each iteration of analysis and reporting.

People need to be able to efficiently explore a problem’s relevant data and go through iterations quickly and easily.  Being able to efficiently slice and dice data, look at more options, uncover hidden opportunities, perform ad hoc visual data discovery, and identify key relationships supports faster, more data-informed decisions.

4. Collect User Feedback Continuously and Act on It

Immediately after the launch of a dashboard, institutions should start gathering feedback from users about how they are using the system and ways to improve it. Is it delivering what people want? How could reports and interfaces be improved, and what’s not useful at all?

User feedback can be collected through many channels. For instance, some institutions organize regular sessions with all types of stakeholders, where they record all the comments and suggestions, prioritize recommendations and implement them where possible. It’s also beneficial to meet with stakeholders regularly to discuss data and reports in detail. For example, a university may find that its reports are too high-level; users need to be able to drill down into detail, such as profiles for individual students. It is helpful to create a template of reports so users can see what they are getting before reports are finalized, and offer proactive feedback. Also, many organizations track report usage. This lets them quickly determine the key users and the top reports accessed in the dashboard. All of these mechanisms capture valuable feedback and enable action, which creates happy users.

About the Author:

Georgia Mariani is product marketing manager for education for SAS, an analytics and business intelligence provider with nearly four decades of experience working with educational institutions. An 18-year SAS veteran, Mariani works with customers to share best practices, successes and recommendations that enable education institutions to get the most productive insights from their data.

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