Posted tagged ‘Dashboards’

What is a Dashboard?

August 25, 2008

The term Dashboard gets tossed around a fair amount in the world of SharePoint and is used often with workflows, or in business process solutions. The harder part is understanding what a dashboard is. The even harder part is trying to explain what it means in the context of SharePoint to someone.

This is my attempt to help explain the concept of a dashboard in SharePoint, and how they are typically used.

What it contains of course depends on the context of where it is used, and I assure you I am not talking about that thing in your car or if you are filthy rich, in your plane. However these both also indicate the most basic aspect of ANY dashboard.

1. A Dashboard is something which PROVIDES TARGETED INFORMATION to the user.

That’s a good starting point. The key is that it is providing targeted information to the user based on what the expected users needs are, the pages context, and/or who the user is. It is often interactive (but doesn’t have to be) and uses SharePoint web parts to render information from lists, libraries, and sites to the user.

2. Typically (in SharePoint) a Dashboard provides a place to initiate related actions.

Because you have visited a dashboard page for either yourself, a department, a service, a subject, or some other reason the page should be designed to not only provide the important information related to your ‘query’ or reason for visiting the page, but also ways to initiate related actions. This could be quick links, links to related items, links to forms, or in some cases embedded forms so the user can submit information right on the page itself.

That’s all folks! It’s pretty much that simple. Dashboards present information to the user to digest and are normally chalked full of SharePoint web parts and provide a way to execute related actions.

So what does this mean? Almost everything is a Dashboard in SharePoint context, which makes it very hard to explain. Adding a content query web part and quick links to a page turns it into a dashboard for someone and almost every web part can be described as a dashboard component.

Hope this helps someone new to the term Dashboard understand it’s context in SharePoint a bit better,
Richard Harbridge