If you’re not familiar with the term dashboard in a business sense, it’s an information management tool used to gather and display business data. Just like a car dashboard, which gives you information such as your speed, fuel levels and vehicle temperature, a business dashboard show’s how you’re tracking. It can prompt you to speed up, slow down or change course as needed.
Certain programs or tools you use might come with existing dashboards – think of Klout as a dashboard for your social media efforts – or you may have created (or wish to create) a custom dashboard to expose and visualise specific information.
We are avid dashboard fans – with a number of screens around our office broadcasting key numbers like how we’re going on social media or tracking towards certain project milestones. We’ve also created a range of custom dashboards for clients to help them get the most from their business information.
So, what goals can business dashboards help you achieve?
1. Enable reflection and attention to KPIs
Having a visible ‘one true source’ of information will force you to set measurable and actionable goals. Dashboards create a focal point for improvement within a business – setting measurable and time-based KPIs gives meaning to your numbers.
By displaying your dashboard in a highly visible place, and having it accessible to your team, you will know that you’re not the only one regularly reflecting on your goals.
2. Boost transparency and accountability
Some businesses choose to only expose dashboard data to management, but exposing key data and trends to your entire staff shows each member of your team how they are accountable as a whole – this is just as important if you’re a small business or a large organisation. Even if you’re in a small team, it’s good to know that your team understands your goals, and how you’re tracking toward them (and don’t just feel like they’re working to help you get your own yacht, which is rarely the truth!)
You may also find suggestions on how to improve your business can come from unlikely places, as different parts of your organisation approach problems from different perspectives.
3. Simplify benchmarking
Your benchmark data is where you started, or if you have access to the information, it might be your industry averages.
We’ve written in the past about how we use Client Heartbeat to measure client satisfaction. We expose that information on a screen in the office so that it is visible to the whole team.
Not only do we access real-time data on client satisfaction, but it compares that data to the industry average. It gives our team a benchmark from which to exceed expectations and demonstrates areas for improvement.
4. Increase productivity and reduce stress
Your business is tracking well. Things are going as they should. Everything’s just kind of ticking over. But for some reason you feel unease. Is this like the last night on the Titanic? Is there an iceberg hiding out in the distance?
Dashboards help to reduce the stress of these little niggles by giving you the information you need, when you need it. Yes, the dashboard is useless if you don’t analyse the information and take action, but at least you will be aware of warning signs when they pop up. Rather than waiting for the pre-scheduled time to collate, analyse and review all your information, you can see how you’re tracking with greater frequency.
The other added bonus is that by exposing performance information numerically – maybe even using red, green and amber indicators – members of your team are likely to work harder to improve performance (especially when it’s visible to everyone).
5. Create a culture that celebrates success and promotes innovation
The world is constantly changing, and that means that business success is dependent on agility and flexibility. Exposing key numbers and encouraging the people around you to focus on goals and KPIs, can help to breed this culture. Dashboards will expose areas of success, not just pain points, and encourage celebration amongst the team.
There are so many online business solutions that can help you uncover and analyse the information that’s important to your business.
When they don’t fit, there’s a real opportunity to customise, so that you get the information that you need.
Want to try it out but not sure where to start? Give our team a call to start the conversation today.