Everything you need to know about business intelligence (BI) dashboards

| By:
April Taylor

Data isn’t valuable in and of itself. As with anything, you need to give form to data for it to mean anything to your audience. For MSPs, this can often mean taking complex figures about a client’s organization and presenting them in a way that’s easy to understand. 

What you may not know is that doing so isn’t necessarily a complicated task — not with the help of business intelligence (BI) dashboards. If you can represent data intuitively, you can do a lot of heavy lifting without excessive work. 

Want to know more about the benefits of BI dashboarding? Read on. 

What is a business intelligence dashboard?

A business intelligence dashboard is a tool that displays key performance indicators (KPIs) and other important business metrics in a visual format. This makes it easier for your teams to monitor internal performance and make data-driven decisions by providing near-real-time insights into client operations.

Dashboards for business intelligence include, among other visualizations: 

  • Charts
  • Graphs 
  • Tables 

Data visualizations get information across intuitively. By providing a comprehensive view of key metrics, a BI dashboard helps your team identify trends, track progress towards goals, and make the kind of informed decisions that drive client and internal success, all in a format that helps readers grasp what’s going on without undue effort. 

Common business intelligence dashboard features

A business analytics dashboard commonly includes a range of features designed to help MSPs analyze and visualize data in a meaningful way. Some of those common features include:

  • Customizable metrics: Allow MSPs to customize which metrics they want to track and how those metrics are displayed.
  • Drill-down capabilities: MSPs can often “drill down” into specific data sets to gain a more detailed understanding of what's driving particular trends or metrics.
  • Alerts and notifications: Notify MSPs when key metrics fall outside of predetermined thresholds.
  • Data integration: Integrate data from multiple sources — such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Salesforce, and other cloud-based applications — allowing MSPs to see a more complete picture of their operations.
  • Mobile optimization: Many dashboards are optimized for mobile devices, allowing MSPs to access data and insights from anywhere.
  • Collaboration features: Some dashboards include collaboration features, allowing multiple users to access and analyze data together in real time.
  • Exporting capabilities: Dashboards allow MSPs to export data or reports in a range of formats, such as PDF or Excel, for further analysis or presentation.

Simply put, a dashboard’s meaning in business analytics is to make the visualization, presentation, optimization, and sharing of data simpler. Check out our webinar, Unlocking the Power of Your Data with BrightGauge, for advice on how to get started. 

Benefits of a business dashboard for MSPs

If you’re wondering how to increase your profit margins, consider a business dashboard right up front. A dashboard for BI provides numerous benefits specifically for MSPs, including:

  • Improved visibility: By getting real-time visibility into key metrics, such as client satisfaction, ticket volume, and revenue, you can make informed decisions about your business.
  • Increased efficiency: By consolidating data from multiple sources and presenting it in a clear and easy-to-understand format, a dashboard can save time and effort in gathering and analyzing data.
  • Better decision-making: With access to up-to-date information and insights, your team can make more informed decisions about how to allocate resources, prioritize tasks, and manage client relationships.
  • Enhanced client satisfaction: By tracking metrics such as response time and issue resolution, MSPs can identify areas where they need to improve services and ensure that clients are receiving the support they need.
  • Increased profitability: By tracking key financial metrics such as revenue, profit margins, and customer acquisition costs, MSPs can identify areas where they can increase profitability and optimize their business operations.
  • Improved communication: By sharing dashboards with clients, you can foster more open and transparent communication, and demonstrate the value of your services.
  • Scalability: As MSPs grow their client base, a dashboard can help scale operations by providing a centralized platform for managing multiple clients and tracking performance across the business.

For more information on how business dashboards help businesses like yours grow, check out our webinar, Get Your Business Off the Sidelines with Business Intelligence

Best practices for business intelligence dashboards

Here are some best practices for creating effective business intelligence dashboards:

  • Define clear goals and objectives: Before creating a dashboard, define what you want to achieve and what metrics are relevant to your business. This will help you focus on the data that is most important to your goals.
  • Keep it simple: Avoid cluttering your dashboard with too many metrics or charts. Only include the data that is essential to your objectives.
  • Use clear and consistent labeling: Ensure that visuals are clearly labeled and consistent throughout your dashboard. This will help users understand data and interpret it accurately.
  • Choose the right visualizations: Use the appropriate visualization for the type of data you want to display. For example, use a line chart to show trends over time, and a pie chart to show percentages of a whole.
  • Ensure data accuracy: Ensure that the data is accurate and up to date. Use a data validation process to ensure data quality.
  • Allow for customization: Allow users to customize their dashboard by adding or removing metrics, changing visualizations, or filtering data. This will allow users to focus on the data that is relevant to their needs.
  • Test and iterate: Test your dashboard with users to ensure that it is useful and effective. Continuously iterate and improve the dashboard based on user feedback and changing business needs.
  • Consider accessibility: Consider accessibility needs when designing your dashboard. Use colors and fonts that are easy to read and ensure that the dashboard can be used with assistive technologies such as JAWS Screen Reader.
  • Ensure security: Ensure that the dashboard is secure and that only authorized users have access to sensitive data. Use encryption and access controls to protect data from unauthorized access or data breaches.

By following these best practices, you can create a dashboard that simply and straightforwardly provides valuable insights to both your team and your client. Be sure to check out our blog for more essential tips for BI dashboard usage

Why business intelligence dashboard software is ideal for MSPs

Business intelligence dashboard software helps streamline operations, improve services, and grow a client’s business. Real-time visibility enables enhanced decision-making, which can help you stay competitive while meeting the growing needs of your clients.

Ready to take the next step? Explore BrightGauge to learn how next-level business intelligence can drive efficiency and profitability for your MSP.


A business intelligence (BI) dashboard differs from a traditional report in several ways:

  • Visualization: A BI dashboard typically presents data in a visual format, such as charts, graphs, and gauges, while a traditional report presents data in a textual format, such as tables, lists, and paragraphs. The visual format of a BI dashboard can make it easier for MSPs to quickly understand and interpret data.
  • Interactivity: A BI dashboard is often interactive, allowing MSPs to filter, sort, and drill down into data to explore different aspects of the data. A traditional report, on the other hand, is often static and provides a fixed set of data.
  • Near-real-time data: A BI dashboard is often powered by near-real-time data, allowing MSPs to monitor and respond to changes in data in near-real-time. Traditional reports, on the other hand, are often generated on a periodic basis, such as monthly or quarterly.
  • Actionable insights: A BI dashboard is designed to provide actionable insights that can help MSPs make informed decisions, while a traditional report often provides descriptive or summary information about past events.
  • Focus on key metrics: A BI dashboard typically focuses on a small set of key metrics that are relevant to the MSP’s goals and objectives, while a traditional report may provide a broader range of data.

Yes, a business intelligence (BI) dashboard can integrate data from multiple sources. In fact, one of the key advantages of BI dashboards is their ability to consolidate data from disparate sources and provide a single, unified view of a business's operations.

By integrating data from multiple sources, a BI dashboard can provide MSPs with a comprehensive view of client business operations, including financial, operational, and customer-related data. 

The frequency with which a business intelligence (BI) dashboard should be updated depends on the needs of the MSP and the type of data being tracked. In general, the more frequently the data changes, the more frequently the dashboard should be updated to reflect those changes.

Here are some best practices for designing a business intelligence (BI) dashboard:

  • Identify the audience
  • Focus on key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Use visualizations wisely
  • Provide context
  • Make it interactive
  • Keep it simple
  • Test and iterate

Yes, a business intelligence (BI) dashboard can be customized for specific users or departments. Customization is one of the key benefits of BI dashboards, as it allows users to view the data that is most relevant to their role or responsibilities.

Customization can take many forms, including:

  • User-specific filters
  • Role-based access
  • Custom metrics
  • Personalized views

Data governance plays a critical role in ensuring the accuracy, reliability, and security of the data used in business intelligence (BI) dashboards. Data governance encompasses the policies, procedures, and controls used to manage data throughout its lifecycle, from creation to disposal. Here are some ways in which data governance can impact BI dashboards:

  • Data quality
  • Data security
  • Data privacy
  • Data lineage
  • Data ownership

There are several types of dashboards, but here are three common types:

  1. Strategic dashboards: These dashboards are used by executives and senior management to track high-level performance metrics and KPIs. They typically include visualizations such as charts, graphs, and gauges, and are designed to provide an at-a-glance view of organizational performance. Strategic dashboards may also include drill-down capabilities to allow executives to dive deeper into the data and identify areas of concern or opportunity.
  2. Operational dashboards: These dashboards are used by front-line workers and operational teams to track real-time performance metrics and operational KPIs. They typically include visualizations such as charts, tables, and heat maps, and are designed to provide up-to-date information on operational performance. Operational dashboards may also include alerts and notifications to alert users to issues or opportunities in real time.
  3. Tactical dashboards: These dashboards are used by middle managers and project teams to track progress on specific initiatives or projects. They typically include visualizations such as Gantt charts, timelines, and task lists, and are designed to provide a detailed view of project status and progress. Tactical dashboards may also include collaboration features to allow team members to communicate and share information in real-time.