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“Should we increase the spending on Facebook ads this month?”
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“How much stock should we ship to the New York store for this week?”
“Do we need three or five cashiers on Saturday evenings?”
Gone are the days when business decisions like these were made on assumptions. Today, you will invariably want to look at data and insights before answering any of the above questions.
Dashboard software is the go-to tool for visualizing business data and extracting insights from it. It helps monitor and measure performance in real time and get a consolidated, single-pane view of important business metrics.
If apprehensions about heavy investment are keeping you from using dashboard software, we’ve got you covered with this list of top free and open source tools.
To be considered for this list, tools had to support the following functionalities:
- Importing data via manual input, file upload, or integration with different data sources, applications, and platforms.
- Visualizing data into different forms, such as charts, bar graphs, and pie charts.
- Providing a single-panel view of the aggregated data.
What does “top” mean? Each of the four tools included in this article has had a minimum user rating of 4.0 on Capterra’s software directory over the past year.
For more details on how we selected the products, you can read our methodology at the bottom of the article.
4 best free or open-source dashboards
(In alphabetical order)
Cyfe is a cloud-based dashboard tool that pulls data from advertising, email marketing, sales, finance, social media, support, and web analytics accounts into one panel.
It connects to over 1,500 third-party applications, including Google Analytics, Salesforce, AdSense, Mailchimp, Facebook, WordPress, and Trello. It can also import internal business data via custom widgets or push APIs.
Marketing dashboard generated in Cyfe (Source)
The tool helps visualize data by different categories (such as department, client, and time period) into charts and graphs. You can export generated reports in PNG, JPEG, PDF, and CSV formats or share the dashboard with stakeholders via a custom URL.
The free module of the tool provides full functionality but limits to two dashboards and a single user. It also limits the dashboard to a 30-day history, even though the module never expires.
Reviewers of Cyfe on Capterra share the following pros and cons:
|The dashboard is easy to set up.||The tool accommodates standard reporting views and doesn’t support on-the-fly data modeling.|
|The customizability of key performance indicators (KPIs) makes data visualization more relevant.||The metrics included in the tool are mostly quantitative and not qualitative.|
Cost to upgrade
|Plans start at $29/user/month.|
|Not available. However, the tool is optimized for mobile browsers.|
Databox is a cloud-based business intelligence (BI) tool that imports data from sources such as marketing, sales, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and project management tools.
The tool connects to over 70 third-party applications, including sources like Google Analytics, Salesforce, HubSpot, Mixpanel, Facebook, and Shopify, via one-click integrations. It also offers over 200 pre-built report templates that can be customized using the do-it-yourself (DIY) Dashboard Designer.
TV screen view of Databox dashboard to display KPIs (Source)
Databox offers a DataBlock library for you to choose data visualizations that can be dragged and dropped into the dashboard. It also incorporates goal tracking to set daily, weekly, monthly, or annual targets for any business metric you’re tracking. You can schedule auto-generated daily, weekly, and monthly snapshots of any dashboard to be sent via email, or create custom URLs to share dashboards with other stakeholders.
The free module of the tool is limited to three data sources, three dashboards, and three users, and only provides one daily refresh (as opposed to real-time or hourly refresh).
Reviewers of Databox on Capterra share the following pros and cons:
|The user interface is simple and the data visualization is appealing.||Integration via APIs is not smooth.|
|The goal-tracking feature helps users remain apprised of business milestones.||Custom queries are limited because of prebuilt report templates.|
Cost to upgrade
|Plans starting $49/month for up to 10 users.|
|Android and iOS.|
Metabase is an open source dashboard tool that can be set up without specialized technical know-how. It works with multiple data sources, such as Google BigQuery, Amazon Redshift, Teradata, Snowflake, and Mongo.
The tool helps users summarize and visualize data without any SQL expertise. It offers a quick and easy lookup function to help search and filter through data and visuals.
A business dashboard generated through Metabase (Source)
You can schedule emails to share charts and snapshots from the dashboard or manually share them via Slack. You can also set goals for various metrics, much like possible with Databox.
The free version offers full functionality. Being open source, it needs to be hosted on-premise.
This can require higher upfront investment compared to cloud-based tools but gives complete control over the software, with no predefined storage limits, pricing tiers, or caps on the number of dashboards or users.
The vendor shares new features, interface improvements, and bug fixes for free with all users as well as provides a community space for users to share feedback and fixes for the tool.
Reviewers of Metabase on Capterra share the following pros and cons:
|The tool is easy to navigate, even for nontechnical users.||Users would like API integrations to more third-party applications and platforms.|
|Data sources are easy to connect and data visuals can be created without SQL knowledge.||Loading visual displays can take a while sometimes.|
Cost to upgrade
|Plans starting $10,000/year for the enterprise edition.|
4. Zoho Analytics
Zoho Analytics is a self-service BI tool that helps users create dashboards to measure business metrics. It was previously known as Zoho Reports.
It imports data from multiple sources, including cloud drives (such as Dropbox and Google Drive), relational databases (such as Oracle and Sybase), and cloud databases (such as Microsoft SQL and Amazon Redshift). It also supports manual import of data in a number of file formats, such as CSV, TSV, Excel, HTML, TXT, and JSON.
Report created in Zoho Analytics (Source)
The tool allows visualizing data in charts, widgets, pivot tables, geo-visuals, and tabular views. You can create reports by dragging and dropping components into the dashboard and analyze those reports by applying filters and creating drill-downs.
The free version of the tool provides access to two users for up to 10,000 rows of data, three query tables, and five workspaces. Users can create unlimited reports. However, it limits integrations with third-party applications to QuickBooks, Microsoft Dynamics, Xero, Teamworks, HubSpot, MailChimp, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Analytics.
Reviewers of Zoho Analytics on Capterra share the following pros and cons:
|Visual representations produced by the tool are clean and easy to understand.||Data can take a few moments to sync when users log in to the tool.|
|Even non-technical users can easily generate reports with the tool.||Data filtering can be time-consuming as resetting one filter might require resetting all other filters.|
Cost to upgrade
|Plans starting $25/month for 2 users.|
|Android and iOS.|
Quick checklist for choosing a dashboard tool
Now that you’ve reviewed the top free and open source dashboard software, it’s time to ask yourself which one might meet the needs of your business. Below is a quick checklist to help you out:
✔ Spend some time on our dashboard software buyers guide to learn what the software does, what are its typical features, and how it can benefit you.
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✔ Ascertain the number of users who will be accessing the dashboard and ensure that the tool supports that number of users.
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✔ Ensure that the tool gives flexibility in the visual representation of data and insights. It should allow you to choose between various formats of charts and graphs as well as to customize reports.
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If you’re still confused about which tool is right for your business, spend some time reading reviews from verified users on Capterra. See which features are working for them and what challenges they are facing, and incorporate those insights into your shortlisting process.
To select the products mentioned in this article, we identified the most common product listings for dashboard software searches via Incognito Google search on Mar 4, 2020. Products that appeared on third-party listings at least twice during this research were shortlisted for further evaluation.
The shortlisted products were evaluated against the definition of dashboard software: Dashboard software is an information management tool that visually tracks, analyzes, and displays key performance indicators (KPIs) to help businesses make informed decisions and improve productivity and the efficiency of their workflows. Dashboards provide a customizable interface that collects real-time data from multiple sources and displays the generated insights in the form of charts, tables, gauges, and timelines.
The tools were further checked for the following criteria:
- Offering a completely standalone free module of the tool, that did not require the user to purchase the tool after a set period of time.
- Not requiring extensive technical know-how or coding languages to set up.
- Overall rating of 4.0 or more on Capterra software directory between Mar 4, 2019 and Mar 4, 2020.
The tools that met all the above criteria were selected for the article.
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Listed pros and cons are derived from features listed on the product website and product user reviews on Gartner Digital Markets domains (Capterra, GetApp, and Software Advice). They do not represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by, Capterra or its affiliates.
The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.
Looking for Business Intelligence software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Business Intelligence software solutions.