Performing technically is only part of the battle of professional dashboard building; another important piece is managing user feedback. The goal is to have the dashboards be as efficient and useful as possible and gathering input can only benefit this process. But it can also be overwhelming. In addition to tracking and prioritizing incoming requests appropriately, it’s important to communicate progress to the requestor. In this blog post I’m going to talk about the way I manage user requests.
Before I get into the how, I’m going to start with the what. The dashboard below is visible to the users so that they can track the progress of their feedback. It allows them to see all of the requests in one place with the ability to partition and sort as needed. The dashboard also provides phase (place in the pipeline), status (how it’s going), the last time it had been addressed, and the estimated completion date.
The date the dashboard was last updated is displayed at the top to allow viewers to know the recency of the information. It also displays the phases and how many requests are in each (it’s great to give visibility to how many things are in the pipeline).
There are two main columns on the left-hand side of the view: one is an identifier column and one is a date column. The user is able to customize these above the chart. The identifier column allows the user to group the requests by the requester, dashboard, or phase. The date column allows the user to sort the grouped requests by the date they were submitted, the date they were last updated, or the estimated completion date.
The main portion of the view shows the progress of the request. The farther along the view, the closer the request is to completion. The majority of requests will move through the same set of phases. The color of the bar represents its status – most will either be in progress or completed, but some may be blocked (indicated by a red color, a legend is available in the information). Hovering over the bar for the request will bring up all of its information, which is the following: dashboard, requester, date submitted, date updated, estimated completion date, phase, status, request type, request, and developer notes. This gives the user a full picture of their request and how its development is being handled.
Requests that have been resolved for more than 30 days will be moved to another tab labeled ‘archive’. This tab is formatted the same way and is accessible from the main dashboard. Moving the resolved requests keeps the dashboard clean and easy to use. The 30-day window is to allow users time to see their resolved items.
While what I’m showing is the user-facing view, having all of the information in Tableau makes it easy for me to create ad-hoc views when I need to see how many outstanding requests there are, for what dashboards, and what type.
How It Comes Together
On the top of every dashboard I manage is a link to the same form that only has five questions for the user to fill out*. This form is the way I collect information about requests.
- Which workbook?
This is a dropdown menu with the titles of ~20 related workbooks. This is the only required question in the form.
- Which dashboard?
This is a short answer text. I didn’t have this originally but it has recently been included to help specify where they would like to see the changes reflected.
- Type of request
This is a single choice question with two options: something’s not working or
This is a long answer field where the user can describe their feedback in more detail.
This allows the user to attach a screenshot if they’d like.
*The form pulls in the requester’s name and email address. If the form you’re using doesn’t have that capability, you may want to add some questions the identify the requester.
On the excel output from the form, I’ve added a few additional columns that I update about the progress of the request.
There are 3 options here: in progress, blocked, completed. These color the items in the dashboard to let users know immediately if their request is moving along as expected.
There are 5 options here: request submitted, under review, in development, testing, and resolved. This field controls the movement across the view that allows the user to see what part of the process their request is in and how close it is to completion.
- Phase Updated
This is a date field to show when the request last saw movement.
- Est. Completion Date
This is a date field to tell the user when they can expect their request to be in production.
This is where I document anything that would help the user understand more about the development of their request (e.g., “The request is currently blocked while we wait for access to the appropriate data.”)
Why This Works
This is a dedicated place to help keep me organized. There are a lot of moving pieces between managing existing dashboards and dedicating time to new developments. I can refer to this to help make sure nothing is falling between the cracks. It also keeps requests from getting lost in the shuffle of being added to the end of emails or tacked on to the closing of meetings. It also serves as a resource to keep the rest of the team aligned.
This process empowers the users to shape the dashboard to their needs. Having the form included in the dashboards allows them to provide feedback immediately if something comes up during use. It also includes them throughout the process and let’s them know that their requests are being addressed.
We could all do with a few less emails in our inbox and a few less items on that piece of paper we keep misplacing on our desk. This process prioritizes communication while taking the pressure off of connecting consistently. With a well-documented list, I can ensure everything requested gets implemented in a timely manner while the users feels confident in the process and gets what they need.
This is just an idea to get you started. I have implemented this structure in the past year and it has both improved my process as well as received very positive feedback from the users. I hope this helps or sparks some ideas about how you can manage your user feedback.
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