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Overview - KPIs

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Modified on Thu, 09 May 2013 06:09 PM Categorized as KPIs, Overview
Click to return to: Documentation | Defining KPIs


A KPI is a significant metric that measures business performance. KPIs differ depending on the nature of the organization and its strategy and goals. For example, an online retailer may find it useful to define a series of related KPIs based on counting the number of page views or hits for each of the company's product web pages. Monitoring such web statistics could give an indication as to how well the company's product sales will grow.

Dashboards for monitoring business performance can be easily constructed in &dw; once you have defined the necessary KPIs. With Dundas Dashboard, you define a KPI by first choosing an existing virtual table to act as a base and then assigning columns of the virtual table to represent the measure and dimensions of your KPI.

You can also define KPIs in &dw; based on a virtual cube. Such KPIs are referred to as OLAP-based KPIs.


The following figure illustrates how KPIs fit into the overall &dw; workflow.

Workflow for KPIs.

Workflow for KPIs.

Measure values

A measure is a component of a KPI that represents the numerical value being monitored, analyzed, or managed. Examples include sales count, profit, and number of software downloads.

Although a KPI has only one measure, you can define a measure as having multiple measure values. In this case, the measure values must all use the same unit of measurement. As an example, a multi-valued measure can be used to keep track of high, low, opening, and closing stock prices.

See Configuring Measure Values.

Contextual metrics

For more effective performance monitoring, you can define one or more contextual metrics for a KPI. A contextual metric can be thought of as another type of measure value that allows for meaningful comparisons with your KPI. An example of a contextual metric is a sales goal value for the current year, which is displayed as a horizontal line on a year-to-date sales chart.

A contextual metric must be of the same data type and use the same unit of measurement as your KPI's measure value(s).

See Adding Contextual Metrics.


With Dundas Dashboard, you can define dimensions for your KPI implicitly by selecting columns from the virtual table that your KPI is based upon. Alternatively, you can make use of existing standard or time dimensions, which allow you to add more capabilities to your KPI, such as support for advanced filtering and drill-downs.

See Configuring Dimensions.

States and state groups

For a given measure, you can divide the entire range of possible measure values into a set of mutually exclusive sub-ranges or states. This set of mutually exclusive states is called a state group. For example, you can define a state group consisting of:

  • a Bad state representing measure values from 0 to 99
  • a Good state representing measure values from 100 to infinity.

By defining states and state groups for your KPI, you can drive certain data visualizations on your dashboard, such as a state indicator control.

See Defining States.


A data annotation is a marker or symbol that can be automatically generated for each of your KPI's data points. Users viewing a dashboard can use the mouse to hover over a data annotation and see a tooltip that presents some additional information about the associated data point.

A user annotation is a comment that you manually attach to a data visualization in order to add context or communicate with other users (during dashboard viewing). An example is when a user adds a personalized remark to a data point on a data visualization to provide background information or to raise concerns.

See Configuring Annotations.

Stubbed KPIs

By creating a stubbed KPI, you can set up a complete KPI definition without having to prepare a data connector or virtual table beforehand. Instead, you define the KPI measures, dimensions, and their data types explicitly. Generated (e.g. random) data is used to populate the measure and dimension values.

Once created, a stubbed KPI can be used directly in the Dashboard Designer, allowing you to prototype dashboards even before the actual data has been set up. The key principle is that dashboard design and data preparation can proceed in parallel once the business metrics (⪚ stubbed datasets and stubbed KPIs) have been defined.

See Creating a Stubbed KPI.

Sample KPI definition

The following diagram shows an example of how a KPI (Total Page Hits By Product) can be constructed from a virtual table (ProductPageHits).

A sample KPI definition.

A sample KPI definition.

To define this KPI using the KPI Designer in Dundas Dashboard:

  1. Choose the Number of Hits column as the measure for the KPI.
  2. Choose the following columns as the dimensions of the KPI:
    • Category ID
    • Product ID
    • Product Name.
  3. Specify the Product Name dimension to appear on a visualization axis (&ie; x-axis).
  4. Apply a range filter on the Category ID dimension.
  5. Set the preferred data visualization control for this KPI to be a bar chart.

The following figure shows how this KPI is visualized on a dashboard:

A dashboard displaying the sample KPI.

A dashboard displaying the sample KPI.

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