It can be difficult for everyone on a team to conceptualize how dashboards and alerts will work without trying it out for themselves. That’s why we’re fans of the initial prototype or proof of concept.
It may also be called the “first iteration,” if your team uses agile project management. Fans of the Lean Startup methodology may recognize it as the MVP – the Minimally Viable Product that can be in people’s hands in the shortest possible time frame to start getting valuable user feedback.
We recommend it use actual data, even if it’s limited to just a couple measures. Sample data sets are not the same as working with one’s own numbers, be they sales figures, machine stats, or financial metrics. The point is to a) get the discovery process going and b) start changing old habits.
We’ve found clients may cruise along a year or more using their initial sets of dashboards and alerts before expanding upon them, while some see the opportunity right away to solve some longstanding problems on their list. Either approach is okay. Just start somewhere.