How do you determine data sources for your dashboard?

When creating a dashboard, choosing the right data sources is essential to ensure you’re providing accurate and relevant information to your audience. Let’s dive into a business case to understand the process better. 

In our business case, we are building a sales dashboard for a retail company. Our primary goal is to monitor sales performance, revenue, and customer demographics. 

Step 1: List the data elements

To start, we need to list the data elements required to achieve our objectives. For our sales dashboard, the data elements may include:

  1. Sales figures (daily, weekly, monthly)
  2. Revenue
  3. Product categories
  4. Customer demographics (age, gender, location)
  5. Sales channels (in-store, online)

Step 2: Identify potential data sources 

With the data elements in mind, we can now identify potential data sources that contain the required information. Some common data sources include: 

  1. Internal databases (e.g., CRM, ERP, or POS systems) 
  2. External data providers (e.g., market research agencies, third-party data providers) 
  3. Publicly available data (e.g., government statistics, industry reports)

For our retail company, we can use sales data from our Point-Of-Sale (POS) system, customer data from our Customer Relationship Management system (CRM), and demographic data from an external data provider. 

Step 3: Assess data source quality

The quality of your data sources is crucial. Consider the following factors when assessing data sources: 

  1. Accuracy: Is the data source reliable and error-free? 
  2. Timeliness: Is the data up-to-date and frequently updated? 
  3. Relevance: Does the data source contain the necessary information to fulfill your objectives? 
  4. Accessibility: Can you easily access and extract the data from the source?

Evaluate your potential data sources based on these criteria to ensure you’re using high-quality data for your dashboard. 

Step 4: Integrate data sources 

Once you’ve determined the data sources, it’s time to integrate them into your dashboard. This may involve: 

  1. Data extraction: Retrieve data from the sources in a format that can be easily used (e.g., CSV, JSON, API).
  2. Data transformation: Clean, aggregate, and format the data as needed (e.g., convert currencies, calculate averages). 
  3. Data loading: Import the transformed data into your dashboard tool (e.g., Tableau, Power BI, Google Data Studio).

Keep in mind that some dashboard tools offer built-in connectors to popular data sources, which can simplify this process. 

By following these steps, you’ll be able to determine the best data sources for your dashboard and ensure you’re providing accurate, relevant, and up-to-date information. 

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