The dashboard in your car is one of the key tools you use to monitor how it’s running, so it’s appropriate that the business world has borrowed the term and applied it to a series of graphs and key information that fits onto one page.
A dashboard view of your business’s performance, if done well, provides an at-a-glance view that helps you quickly monitor the key indicators of performance.
If you’re responsible for taking raw data and making sense of it in management reports then they are a great way to save time because they are set up as templates.
You can update the report by simply entering the new month or reporting period, selecting a different region, division, or product etc.
Dashboard principles ensure you follow four rules to make your life easier:
1) Set them up as templates – rather than spend hours massaging your raw data (that you exported from your finance system or other database) so you can present it to management. And then repeat the process again next month. Use formulas to extract the information without the need for much manipulation of the raw data in the first instance.
2) They are easy to read and draw conclusions from – using small graphs and displayed on one page it’s easy for management to make comparisons, recognise trends and correlations in your data.
3) Put performance in context – bringing information into your dashboard from both your internal systems and external data sources can give your data context and help management understand why company performance is trending the way it is. External information might come in the form of population or employment trends, industry benchmarks, or may simply combine information from different departments within your company.
4) Easy to update and change – instead of creating new reports from the same data, simply select new parameters from the one dashboard template. Using drop-down lists and formulas you’re able to quickly switch between month, region, product or any other category you wish to measure.
Dashboards are not only the domain of the large Corporate’s, small business can benefit greatly too.
In fact the small business owner is typically time poor so it’s imperative they’re able to get their key performance information quickly and easily. One of the reasons small business fail is the owner never realises where the problem is.
In my online Excel Dashboard course I cover everything you need to know to create dashboards and more, so you can create insightful, professional quality reports that’ll make you the ‘Guru’ in your organisation.