Build business dashboards on Zoho Creator

What if you could see all your Key Performance Indicators in a single glance?

As a business owner, you need to make calculated decisions. Dashboards can help.

Typically, you build a dashboard by sourcing data from multiple apps. You curate the necessary and cut out the secondary to offer a comprehensive view of a business’s health. Business dashboards are made up of charts, reports, and widgets containing information like number of projects, customers, profits, and percentages.

A dashboard can go further as well, with links to the various apps it fetches data from. This can help when users need detailed analytics.

Who uses a dashboard?

Decision makers are the most common users of a dashboard. They analyze their business’s financial status like quarterly turnovers, losses, and expenses. However, dashboards aren’t just limited to management.

Dashboards can be pliable, displaying varied information based on the user and their requirements. For example, while a business owner’s dashboard shows high level data, a retail store manager’s dashboard can show stock inflow on a daily basis. Likewise, every metric on a dashboard is customizable to the viewer.

Here are some other types of users and the metrics they might access.

Chief Financial Officer

Chief Executive Officer

Chief Operations Officer

  • Financial metrics
  • Financial metrics
  • Operational metrics
  • Operational metrics
  • Statistical metrics

Sales manager

Sales agent

  • Customer acquisition funnels
  • Personal achievements
  • Periodic sales
  • Reminders for meetings
  • Number of conversations and leads
  • Pending conversions
  • Statuses of each sales agent
  • Comparison against the rest of the team

Nonprofit event manager

Nonprofit volunteer

  • Calendar of events for the year
  • Personal tasks for an event
  • Upcoming events and associated tasks
  • Event location and logistics
  • Volunteers and their tasks
  • Contact details of fellow volunteers
  • Donors and funds raised in previous events
  • Rendezvous points and general best practices

Digital marketing manager

Digital marketer

  • Website traffic
  • Traffic to specific pages
  • Advertising channels and costs
  • Comparative performance stats of ad copy
  • Customer grievances
  • Ongoing projects and tasks
  • Upcoming due dates

Project manager

Project trainee

  • Status of current projects
  • Everyday tasks
  • Upcoming projects pipeline
  • Project status updates
  • Project calendar and progress
  • Tasks deadlines
  • Updates from project trainees

Help desk manager

Customer support representative

  • Total number of tickets
  • Number of tickets pending
  • Customer satisfaction ratios
  • Priority tasks
  • Average response time of the team
  • Personal average response time
  • Departmental scorecard
  • Average success rating

It’s clear that even within the same team or department, no two users need the same information.

Why build a dashboard?

Apart from being an obvious indicator of progress, having a dashboard for your business can give you various functional benefits.

  • Helps the management prioritize: While you’re handling the countless moving parts in your business, a bird’s eye view of what’s happening can help you sort out which aspects need more resources and focus.
  • Communicates business progress: Every dashboard educates its user. It ensures your team’s always in the know, and assures autonomy for each individual.
  • Lets you set goals and expectations: It helps your team when you define goals and deadlines. For example, you could set up a dashboard for a new member in your team so that they have proper guidance from day one.
  • Contributes to productivity: Having critical numbers where you can always see them acts as a motivation. When there’s urgency, your team strives better performance.
  • Makes it easy to spot errors: You don’t have to hop across various services to investigate—a dashboard highlights exactly when and where something’s amiss. You can even set up alerts for errors.

Building your perfect dashboard

There are two things you need to consider while building your ideal dashboard:

  1. What to show
  2. How to show it

A dashboard is so versatile that it can show anything you want.

But what an effective dashboard shows depends on its audience. Consider your user first. Build a persona. Who is this dashboard for? As we discussed earlier, a marketer, a sales person, and a third-party vendor don’t all need the same metrics. Pick out the most relevant metrics for your user. Creating multiple customized dashboards is better than forcing everyone into a predefined one.

Let’s say you’re building a dashboard for yourself.

  • Step 1: As a business owner, even though you care for all aspects of your business, your primary concern is business profitability. That’s what your dashboard should project.
  • Step 2: Once you’ve identified what your dashboard should show, think about the secondary metrics—ones that influence business profitability. This may include financial transactions like sales, purchases, income, expenses, etc.
  • Step 3: Next, identify the tertiary metrics that influence the secondary metrics: leads and potentials; commissions and delivery costs; referrals; service and maintenance charges, etc.

You can drill down as far as you’d like. In most cases, however, it’s sufficient to display your primary and secondary data, and create links to analyze further down the funnel.

Once you know what to show, you can then look at options to represent the data. This is when you define what a user will do with their dashboard. If you want the user to glean information as a passive observer, linear lists and simple bar or line charts are sufficient.

If you want the user to perform an action, however, like creating smaller and frequent reports based on the dashboard, you can then choose live graphs that regenerate more often than static ones.

Now is also when you choose between projecting high-level numbers that a sales manager might require or diving down to metrics that a sales rep would prefer.

Additionally,

Consider including critical features that your user needs like filtering data, viewing a summary, drilling down to further analytics, and printing or exporting of data.

However you represent your data, it all depends on the audience.

Zoho Creator dashboards

Once you…

  1. define the audience for your dashboard,
  2. the metrics they need access to,
  3. and the features they’ll need

…you can start building.

For every app you build on Zoho Creator, you can create multiple dashboards for the many stakeholders in your business. If you’re running a retail business, for example, you can build a dashboard for your suppliers, and embed your inventory report with details such as latest purchase, and accrued and outstanding payments. To make the dashboard even more intuitive, you can set up a button on the dashboard so the supplier can approve a refill every time stock runs low.

Similarly, you can build a separate dashboard for your delivery team, with a map showing locations and addresses. Your team can update statuses for each delivery even as they deliver them—all from their dashboard.

In both cases, neither your supplier nor your delivery team will have access to the rest of your application.

And the best part of it all? Everything you build is natively available on your mobile devices. You can also personalize screens and gesture controls.

Getting started is easy. We’ve already built common elements like embeddable reports, forms, and even templated sections for your dashboard. You don’t have to worry about HTML, CSS, or APIs—just drag the elements you need and drop them onto your dashboard. Since all of your apps run in Zoho Creator, you don’t have to worry about using APIs to fetch data from external sources. Everything you need to make calculated business decisions is right within Zoho Creator.

  1. Shailesh Sikha

    Hi,

    Wanted to check if access to datasets and reports can be controlled for specific users. E.g., people paying only for reports, likewise for database. Also can we protect worksheets so that data cannot be copied.

    • Narmadhaa

      Hi, Shailesh.
      Yes, in Zoho Creator, you can control permissions for specific users based on their roles. However, we don’t prevent copying or printing of data on a dashboard or report.

      If you are referring to Zoho’s other products, please drop us an email so we can understand your use case better. Our email addresses follow the same standard: support@[product-name].com