What is a Business Dashboard? Do you need one?

Do you drive a car? If not, have you ever been in a car? I am almost certain you’ll say yes to one of these questions.

A dashboard is a control panel located directly ahead of a vehicle’s driver, behind the steering wheel displaying instrumentation and controls for the vehicle’s operation. A driver uses the dashboard to make all the possible decisions he has to when he is driving or isn’t driving. He can track his speed, know when to refuel, any engine issues, whether any doors are not locked properly etc. In fact, any car’s dashboard has anywhere between 10-20 useful metrics.

Now imagine if the car did not have a dashboard; you wouldn’t able to track your speed, you’ll have to manually check the fuel levels (or automatically when it’s empty!) and you’ll be alerted about any engine issues by smoke only! The dashboard communicates everything a driver needs to know about the health of the car and in turn, this information is used to make any further decisions.

Similarly, a business dashboard or a dashboard is a decision-making tool which will give a “Live Health Check” of your organisation. Information related to the key metrics is aggregated and condensed from the Management Information System (MIS) reports. Indicators are applied to this information to make it valuable and insight-providing. These indicators will help you make informed business decisions. You will know exactly where your business stands and it will be mapped against where you wanted your business to be! Dashboards are customised to every different business depending on the industry, size, number of functions and the executive’s needs.

What’s it in for you?

1.  Ease of Data Access

Do you have trouble finding the data that you need? And when you need it the most? Be it sales, marketing, finances, production, etc. Get all the key information readily available at one place without having to contact multiple departmental heads for the same.

2.  Calculated decision making

A dashboard will present you with all the parameters that you may require to make a business decision. Do you need more financing? Is the stock enough? Where can we increase profitability? Do I need to hire more staff? Or do I need to work on the efficiency of my current staff? All your questions shall be answered.

3.  Areas for improvement

By using a dashboard you will be in a position to identify which department needs your attention and then you can zero in on the root cause to make sure what needs to do in order to get that function at its efficiency.

4.  Know what’s happening

If you are a business owner who is often on the road and yet, likes to keep a tab on the office operations, the business dashboard is your remote control. You can operate and make key decisions from any part of the world using just a dashboard.

5.  Visual Representation  

Dashboards incorporate a graphical representation of key metrics such as Sales, Profitability, Production, etc. which can be tailor-made as per an executive’s needs. It is certainly true that a picture speaks a thousand words – and so do pie charts and bar graphs!

6.  See the Big Picture

As entrepreneurs, you have the vision to need to remain in alignment with. The dashboard will tell you whether you are on track with your long terms and if not, it will tell you the deviation so that you can take some actions and get back on the horse ASAP! How else do you think companies like Microsoft and Google run?

There are dozens of Softwares available online for dashboards. However, if you are a startup or an SME, we can make a Dashboard in Excel or Google Sheets and that would be enough to care for your needs for a while!