There are three types of dashboards: operational, strategic, and analytical. We have discussed operational dashboards before. Today, I’m going to share more detailed information on strategic dashboards with you. This post will cover the definition, importance, and design guide on strategic dashboards.

Strategic Dashboard
Strategic dashboard

What is a strategic dashboard?

Put it simply, strategic dashboards are designed for high-level ​management to keep updated with the organizational KPIs. 

The targeted users are organizations’ upper management professionals such as executives, business owners, vice presidents, and departmental heads. They need to track key indicators of organizational performance and gauge whether the organization’s strategic direction is appropriate. Therefore, the KPIs or data on the strategical dashboard are quantifiable, relevant, and comprehensive. 

How to design strategic dashboards?

Because the strategic dashboard is tailored for decision-makers and shows the results of strategies against a particular objective. The strategic dashboard should satisfy viewers to get a quick sketch of the company or department’s state. As a result, you’d better make the deliveries on Strategic dashboards as simply looking as possible.

Here I provide some practical suggestions to help you create a well-oiled strategic dashboard.

1. Identify the target audience

  • TIPS 1: To decide which aspect of the business to focus on, it is a necessary step to first define your target.

For example, if your target audience is the CFO, then it will be better for you to focus on corporate fiscal performance. If you are targeting the head of the marketing team, you have to tell another story.

2. Group your metrics logically. 

  • TIPS 2: Metrics you can track on a strategic dashboard must be relevant to your target. Good metrics can direct the future of work.

For example:

  1. financial reporting: EBIT(Earnings before interest and taxes), net profit margin, operating cash flow, debt to equity ratio, …
  2. sales analysis: total sales, sales growth, win rate, cost of selling, revenue by product/service/market, …
  3. HR reporting: turnover percentages, absence percentages, recruitment efficiency (time to hire, cost per hire), …

Also, always keep two things in mind:

  • TIPS 3: Make sure the metrics are relevant to the business objectives.
  • TIPS 4: Don’t mess up the dashboard with unnecessary indicators or scripts. Only the most important indicators should be provided.

3. Data visulization: draw your canvas

You have abundant choices of the widget in the dashboard. Here, I list some most basic visual elements you can use to build a dashboard.

Carousel KPI card. The so-called carousel KPI cards are placed in the middle of the dashboard to display indicators that are vital to business growth.

Strategic dashboard visual widgets
Carousel KPI card

Maps. The maps can combine with other information. For example, when we combine population migration data with maps, we can obtain such a flow map.

Basic charts, including line charts, pie charts, radar charts, rose charts and so on.

Strategic dashboard visual widgets
Basic Charts

FineReport covers most of the data visualization components we need every day, including charts, tables, and so on. By dragging and dropping, you can directly place them on your dashboard canvas and then associate data in the component settings. How to connect the data to the indicators? Let’s see the next section.

Also, there is one tip you should never forget:

  • TIPS 5: Make the dashboard easy on the eye by leaving enough white space.

4. Connect the indicators to accurate and qualified data

  • TIPS 6: Many dashboard software supports you to connect with your own data.

Generally speaking, the data sources can be divided into two groups: files and databases.

For example, after I open one professional dashboard-making software, FineReport and I can see the way to connect data is quite intuitive. You need some SQL basics, which are very easy to learn, to define the data connection.

  • TIPS 7: Double-check the data on the dashboard to ensure that all data sources and functions are correct
  • TIPS 8: Last but not least, set warning lines for some indicators when it is vital to the growth.

For example, when profits continue to drop sharply to a certain level, highlight this part of the data. It indicates that proper actions should be taken. This will help the executive audience immensely.

Examples of strategic dashboards

We might divide strategic dashboards into different types according to a business unit they’re suitable for. For different business purpose, the metrics and focus are different.

Investment dashboard

Investment Dashboard (made by FineReport)

Project management

Project management dashnoard template
Project Management Dashboard (made by FineReport)

Profit Center

Profit center (made by FineReport)

Insurance Dashboard

Insurance dashboard (made by FineReport)


In this post, I reviewed what a strategic dashboard is and why we say it is important for making strategic decisions. Next, I list the main steps to produce expected strategic dashboards. They are not difficult at all for a veteran. For the novice, my suggestion is to find a dashboard-building tool and get familiar with it as soon as possible. Only by practicing skills and connecting to a real database can you grow.

The dashboard software here I take as an example is FineReport. It offers a free personal version without functional limitations and a well-rounded training path. Welcome to take the advantage to drill your skills.

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