The Delightful Dashboard

Running any business is hard, especially for small businesses where everything seems to fall to the owner or small group of managers. One item that I have found invaluable in keeping the business on track is the Dashboard

So What is a Dashboard? 

A business dashboard is simply a tool which reflects a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) or metrics in your business. This could be anything you value to meeting your business objectives such as sales pipeline numbers, cash on hand, inventory, receivables, aging, or increase in website visitors. 

How Do I Pick My Dashboard Numbers? 

In the business planning book Traction, author Gino Wickman calls this a "Scorecard." He claims he runs his business using 14 numbers. For most businesses, I recommend having 10-15 numbers on your dashboard. 
 
If you do any kind of business planning you should already be using KPI’s - these are what you need on your dashboard. If not, you need to look at the areas that are important to your business and track the trends. 

Sales might be a number you use, but that is a lagging indicator, unless you were tracking it against projections to see that your sales or marketing is working as planned. 

If you don’t have a dashboard, starting with ANY numbers is better than having none, but as you look at your numbers, you should begin to be curious about the "numbers behind the numbers." These are the items that really need to be on your dashboard. 

How Do I Create a Dashboard? 

This can start with a simple spreadsheet; you assign individual numbers to track and update the spreadsheet on a regular interval, usually at least weekly. If you have access to good data or systems like marketing platforms, accounting systems, point of sale systems and the like, you can use these to create a dashboard with real-time data. These are the really valuable kinds of dashboards to have. 

I have found the best technology out for creating these types of dashboards is Microsoft PowerBI. It can connect to ANY data source and allows you to create (or have created by a competent IT professional) visually compelling dashboards. These also can be interactive, allowing you to dig into the data when it is necessary to fix problems in your business the dashboard exposes. 

How do you get started? If you don’t have access to real-time data or you don’t have resources to connect to these systems, follow these steps: 
 
  • Identify 5-10 vital numbers to your business 
  • Figure out the collection process for these numbers 
  • Set a collection interval for these numbers 
  • Assign team members to collect the data 
  • Enter the data into a spreadsheet or database 
  • Review the numbers and asses their meaning 
  • Keep digging into your numbers and add "numbers behind the numbers" to get better insights 

If you have real-time data being produced and want to use a tool like PowerBI to create a dashboard to really drive business decisions, but need help, you can contact me.