October 2, 2020
Management Dashboards Done Right
Posted by John Kogan
Data. There’s too much of it. So, on its own, data isn’t all that helpful. Great finance organizations use people, process and technology to turn data into useful, easily consumed, actionable insight.
The dashboard is one such tool. Some call it a financial dashboard, but that’s too constraining. The best dashboards combine financial and operating information such as sales per square foot, cost per web conversion, customer churn and more. The core idea is to determine what information is important enough to track over time, though not necessarily forever; gather it using people, process and technology; and turn that data into actionable information.
Think of the progression of data as follows:
Data ▻Information ▻Insight ▻Action ▻Results
Breaking Down the Data
Whether financial in nature or not, a truly dizzying array of data is available at companies of all sizes. That data can come from point-of-sale systems, ERP, pure financial platforms, CRM, marketing automation, web servers and more. Every platform and app is built to churn out volumes of data. Herein lies the problem: even a small company can generate millions of data points every day, and that’s too much to consume en masse.
There are nearly infinite means of analysis available to modern companies, but when finance does its job well, it’s not just providing siloed analyses, it’s providing holistic information that drives insight. The job of a dashboard is to provide easily digestible information that people at any level can use for decision-making over time. That last bit, “over time,” is important to recognize so that you include information that has meaning over more than just the current day. The idea is that movement of the metrics over time is actionable and important. Without intent of action, your dashboard won’t matter.
Design counts. If it’s nothing but a field of numbers, nothing will stick out to the reader, they won’t internalize what’s important, and the motivation to use the dashboard will decrease. Access also matters. If the people who should see it can’t find it, they won’t use it.
Selecting a Dashboard Platform
As always, technology can help. There are many dashboard platforms out there, some standalone and others integrated with financial, business intelligence and reporting platforms. Choose carefully and integrate your chosen platform into every system you deem a reasonable source of data.
Your end goal is positive results. People, process and technology should come together to drive you from data to results. As you architect your right solution, keep this squarely in mind. You should also architect for the next three to five years of operations, as your product, delivery, data sources and many systems will change over that time.
Reducing mountains of data to useful, actionable insight is one of finance’s key jobs. Management dashboards help cut through the clutter of everyday data, focusing those who need it on the key information they that helps them run the business optimally. That’s finance done right.To learn more, visit our FP&A page to see how our experts can help your organizations.
John leads the Finance Performance Improvement practice, where he helps clients with strategic finance outsourcing, executive search & finance technology solutions. He is passionate about helping CFOs become strategic leaders and make the finance organization a genuine weapon for their organizations.