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40 Questions to Ask Prospective Dashboard Partners by BECKON


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Getting meaningful insight from raw marketing data takes more than just booting up some new dashboard software. Either your team or your software provider has to perform a series of complex data management and reporting processes before your visualization will lead to insight you can trust. Data intake, data cleansing and normalization, data enrichment, data storage and report design are crucial steps that must be planned for and flawlessly executed. The question is—who’s going to do it?

Before you pull the trigger on a new dashboard solution, be sure you have a clear understanding of which data management and reporting processes your software partner will provide and which you’ll have to do yourself. Download 40 Questions To Ask Prospective Dashboard Partners and make sure all of your bases are covered before you buy.

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40 Questions to Ask Prospective Dashboard Partners by BECKON

  3. 3. 3 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM As you shop for a marketing dashboard, use this list of questions to vet individual vendors. By discussing these points with your candidates in detail, you’ll end up with a complete picture of what’s required from both parties to get your new dashboards launched. ASK: 1. Can you take all the data we have, or do you have a menu of APIs we need to choose from? (If they only offer API access, be sure all the tools you use have APIs available, otherwise you will have blind spots.) 2. How do we get data into the system? Can you pull from APIs? Can we publish to a secure server, which you then pull down? Can you take spreadsheets? .CSVs? Can our team email files straight into your system? 3. Do we need to upload data in neat rows and columns, fully tagged? 4. How do we know if data is in or not? Is there a confirmation process? 5. What metrics do you recommend we pull in from each of our priority data sources and channels? Can you provide us with guidance? 6. What if a data source has a value that we don’t want to pull in? Can we pull in some data but not other data from a single data source? How does that work? STAGE 1: DATA INTAKE Give the vendor a list of all your data sources— online, offline, business outcomes (sales), revenue data, and brand/equity outcomes (brand tracker or survey data). Key objective: Determine whether there are any restrictions on the types of data that can be entered into the system, and how the uploading process is accomplished. 1 0 101100
  4. 4. 4 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM ASK: 7. What is our role in fundamental data cleanup? What is your role? 8. Who determines what marketing metrics and KPIs to pull in? Do we need to define our complete and final data schema from scratch when we get started with your tool, or do you have a starting point for us? 9. Can you transform messy Excel files into a structured format? 10. Who is responsible for de-duping, normalizing and reconciling variations in field names, etc., before we start looking at dashboards? 11. Can you make metadata consistent? For example, if we have varying tags such as “Southern California”, “So. Cal.” and “So_Calif” how does your system know these are the same thing? 12. If you don’t make metadata consistent for us, do you have ETL tools that allow our team of data architects and analysts to perform data transformations within your application? 13. If multiple datasets contain the same metric name but different values, how do you determine the source of truth for the metric? 14. How do you ensure that metrics have common definitions and are well understood by all users who later access the dashboards? 15. Do you maintain a glossary of all metric definitions and properties so that metrics always mean the same thing? 16. When someone is viewing a chart, will each metric’s definition and properties be readily available to users? STAGE 2: DATA CLEANSING AND NORMALIZATION Key objective: Determine who is responsible for data cleanup and normalization, and precisely what each responsible party needs to do. 1 0 101100
  5. 5. 5 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM ASK: 17. Do you offer strategic advice on best practices for using metadata to enrich our dataset? 18. How can we create aggregates of data—for example, tag all paid media mentions as “paid” for future paid and earned media analyses? How do you support adding metadata to underlying metrics? 19. How are formulas and derived metrics supported in your platform? Can we create formulas (e.g., run rate, average, rate) based on underlying metrics and KPIs in the application? Or do we need to calculate those metrics before they go into your system? ASK: 20. Do you warehouse the data—the structured files that we upload into your system—or do you just allow us to visualize “snapshots” of our data? 21. What happens if people upload different and conflicting datasets? STAGE 3: DATA ENRICHMENT Key objective: Determine who is responsible for data enrichment, and the specific responsibilities each party has in the process. STAGE 4: DATA STORAGE Key objective: Determine how accessible your data is and who maintains ownership and control over it.
  6. 6. 6 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM 22. Can we easily export all (or subsets of) historical data from your system in order to merge it with other datasets or run analyses outside your platform? 23. Do you have an API so that we can pull data out of your tool? ASK: 24. Do you offer standard reports that reflect marketing best practices? And/ or suggestions for analyses to run based on best practices? 25. Do you offer templatized reports based on marketing best practices that we can customize? 26. How user-friendly is your chart creator/querying tool? Is it designed to be used by marketers or advanced analysts? 27. Do you offer flexible permissions and roles for who can see select data in reports? 28. Will we have an account manager who provides guidance on dashboard and scorecard design and trains all our users? Does our account representative have a marketing background? 29. Is training and support included in the price or does it cost extra? STAGE 5: REPORT DESIGN Key objective: Determine the reporting capabilities, customization and training the vendor offers.
  7. 7. 7 WWW.BECKON.COM HELLO@BECKON.COM ASK: 30. Are your data visualization and exploration tools designed for IT professionals, data analysts or marketers? 31. Are there many chart types available? Does the system suggest chart types based on the selected data? 32. Can we visualize omnichannel datasets—data that comes from many disparate sources? 33. Will our dashboards have the ability to show us what’s happening across the buyer’s journey in terms of awareness, engagement, purchase, advocacy, etc.? 34. Do you offer drill-in and drill-down capabilities? 35. When looking at a dashboard, can we easily slice the dataset in a different way or otherwise creatively explore our data, or are we limited to viewing canned reports? 36. Are dashboards shareable, and are there varying levels of access we can grant? 37. Can we view our dashboards on web and mobile? 38. Are we able to easily export dashboard charts and graphs into PowerPoint for other types of reporting and analysis? 39. Do you support other visuals such as scorecards? 40. Do you offer easy benchmarking such as “vs. previous period”, “vs. last year” and “vs. a target or goal”? STAGE 6: DATA VISUALIZATION Key objective: Determine how flexible the vendor’s chart options are, along with their solutions for sharing, drilling down and exporting.
  8. 8. ABOUT BECKON To grow your brand, you need integrated, unbiased data and insights you can trust. You need Beckon, The Source of Truth for Marketing™. Beckon’s rock-solid data management and real-time marketing intelligence power better, faster decisions that let you do more with every marketing dollar. LET’S TALK Want to learn more? Get in touch at—we’d love to connect.