It’s 9.00am on a Monday morning and you’re about to go into a management team meeting, along with other senior managers in your company. Like most companies, you come together with your colleagues every week to discuss the most important company matters and to focus on key actions that the business needs to implement.
Unfortunately, as these systems are not integrated with each other, each manager brings their own set of reports to the meeting, handing out reams of paper-based reports, statistics, graphs, charts and grids, all designed to help the team to pinpoint what is going on across the various departments within the business. Many of the reports are extremely lengthy, out of date by the time of ther meeting and don’t provide relevant information that you and your colleagues can use as the basis of your discussions.
As a result, important business issues may remain unresolved or even unidentified, trends in customer buying patterns are buried within complex reports and a large, long outstanding invoice will go unpaid by your most demanding client for another week, despite the fact that your Sales Director approved a further order discount to the client the day before the weekly meeting. Ultimately, the lack of visibility of your real performance means you cannot be 100% sure what is driving or constraining your business.
Sound familiar? The example may appear extreme, but most business owners acknowledge they face an ongoing challenge to manage critical management information more effectively and make it actionable.
What is required is a tool that can help to help pinpoint the most relevant, useful and current information on which to base important business decisions, such as can I afford to employ an extra sales executive, do we have the production capacity to meet the order we’ve just received and, crucially, when can I expect to see an increase in profitability? At the same time, it needs to be presented in a format that makes it easy to understand and share with colleagues who may work in other areas of your business.
So while information may be your company’s biggest asset, it can also prove to be your biggest headache. Collating information from a myriad of systems is a huge challenge, yet most management information tools do not easily integrate with each other, nor do they allow you to quickly and easily produce a snapshot of what’s really happening in your business.
Business Intelligence Dashboards: the right information at the right time to the right person
A Customised View of Dashboards are fully customisable, so different users can view different information in a wide variety of graphical styles and charts, according to their needs. As the information presented already exists within your business systems, you can also set up a range of dashboards based on different user permission levels, by job function or role, or even by project. For example, the Managing Director may want to see profit year to date, cost analysis, sales by period, sales by region, and bank balance, while the Finance Director may only want to see cashflow, bank account balance, debtors and creditors by value.
Of course, each department or team will want to view critical management information in a visual format that best suits their needs. Some examples of how dashboards are used within departments are listed below:
Finance - income statements, profit analysis, key financial ratios, cashflow analysis and debtors and creditors, turnover analysis.
Sales – customer profitability, product/service profitability, sales plan versus forecast, sales pipeline analysis.
Production – capacity management, inventory, cost management, quality control.
Purchasing – inventory turnover, supplier performance analysis.
Marketing – campaign analysis, customer relationship management (CRM), marketing budget, competitor analysis.
Customer Service – satisfaction measurement, customer complaints, complaint resolution, upsell opportunities.
Helpdesk – management of Service Level Agreements (SLAs), support issue trends, product enhancements.
Benefits of Business Intelligence Dashboards
Access is provided anywhere through an internet connection - there is no client software needed. Business owners can keep track of business performance when on vacation and travelling abroad. Dashboards offer significant benefits over traditional spreadsheets and management reports. They offer an intuitive, highly-graphical visualisation of your performance, allowing to quickly spot potential shortfalls in performance and also highlight trends and opportunities.
They provide instant, proactive alerts to variances in performance, based on the KPIs and metrics that matter most to your business. Combined with the ability to drill down to the source data within your existing systems, you can quickly identify the root cause of issues, enabling you to take corrective steps, if required.
Ultimately, using dashboards can help to drive improved performance across the entire business; by ensuring that your business performance is measured and monitored by the right drivers, you gain more insight into what helps and what hinders your business success. By providing reliable data that gives the real truth, not some subjective opinion, you can focus on what’s on the horizon, take corrective action early and avoid potential issues that will negatively impact your business.