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Overview of Performance Dashboards

A Performance Dashboard (also known as Executive Dashboard, KPI Dashboard, BI Dashboard, etc.) basically allows you to monitor performance of certain key metrics about your organization. Just like the dashboard in your car, it gives you a quick and easy way to get an overview of metrics that are important to what you are doing in real-time. Again, as in the car analogy, it should be actionable. If you are low in fuel, you may want to start looking for a gas station. If you are driving too fast, you may want to slow down. The temperature gauge, tachometer, video screen, all give you actionable information. You will not drive a car without a dashboard. Should you run your business without one?

Performance Dashboards should be available via a web browser so every authorized user can access it, rather than being housed on one individual’s desktop. They typically connect to databases of the systems that you currently use to run your business. They can be your CRM system, ERP system, accounting software, bug tracking software, sales/marketing campaign systems, manufacturing system and so forth. The dashboard can pull data from different sources into one place obviating the need to log into multiple systems and run through different reports. The data is normally manipulated into more accessible formats and transformed into better presentations.

Performance dashboards give executives, business analysts, managers and any users many benefits. Some of the obvious benefits are the following:

  • Better Insight Into The Business

    Because a performance dashboard  gives you real-time visibility of key performance metrics, you get great insights anytime, anywhere, often on mobile devices as well. You can monitor all aspects of  your business and make better decisions.
  • Management Productivity

    Performance dashboards are time savers. Instead of spending countless hours logging into multiple business systems and running reports and trying to interpret the results, use the right dashboard to show you the up-to-the second key results from each report . Time saving translates into productivity.

  • Check Performance Against Goals

    Whether it’s financial performance, project performance, manufacturing performance etc, management needs to set goals and follow up with checking actual performance. Your performance dashboard could do just that. You could be on top of what your goals are being met and take timely actions if they are not.
  • Stimulate Improvements

    Performance dashboards allow you to measure your performance. Therefore you can improve it. Visibility leads to transparency. The executive as well as employees know that their performance results are visible and being judged, they have great incentive to take every opportunity to improve their work.

 

One of the most important tasks of making a good dashboard is of course to choose what metrics to track. A useful guideline would be to start with the most important key indicator of your company or department.

For example, let’s say you are the sales executive, the most important metric is revenue. Then you would want to ask what underlying metrics influence revenue. They could be the number of leads, effective of advertising campaign,  number of leads contacted, number of proposals sent out, number of sales people  in the field, average sales price, proposal to close ration and so on.
You can then incorporate these metrics in charts or reports and track them in your dashboard, understand them and take actions to make improvements.

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