The Power of Dashboards

Are you spending time and money in the right areas of your business? Do you know the answers to these questions: “Which offer brings in the most revenue each month? What content is attracting people to my audience? What part of my funnel isn’t working? Do I need more traffic, more leads, or better conversion rates?” 

With a dashboard, you can have all of those answers, easily keep a pulse on the overall health of your business, and know where best to invest your energy and resources to encourage business growth without spending hours wading through spreadsheets or becoming a data analyst expert.

Understanding the Role of Dashboards

Tech giants and retail leaders have long used data analytics to optimize their operations and strategies. I’ve worked with small businesses for years and only recently are more beginning to tap into the potential. Many see dashboards as just a visual aid, but they’re so much more. Dashboards track and display KPIs, metrics, and other fundamental business data points. They collect data and convert it into valuable insights, enabling businesses to respond quickly and efficiently to changes. A dashboard serves as a streamlined communication tool, allowing the users to grasp current performance at a glance and access crucial information that would otherwise be layered within complex datasets. They are the central point for making informed decisions in your business.

Customizing Your Dashboard

Your data is your data. Every business is unique, and no business possesses the same data as another. You shouldn’t make decisions based solely on what “the experts” say is happening in your industry. Your data is unique to your business; your dashboard should reflect that. There is no one-size-fits-all dashboard. Tailoring your dashboard to your specific needs, data streams, and priorities is essential for extracting meaningful insights.

When it comes to your dashboard, context is king. If the dashboard is just for you, you will likely be tracking different data than if the dashboard is for you and your team. The relationship you have with your data is different from the relationship your team has. For example, your dashboard may summarize key performance metrics to make decisions about the business, whereas a team dashboard may highlight key metrics that keep the business going day-to-day. For that reason, it’s not uncommon to build two dashboards- one for the CEO and one for the whole team.

Below you’ll find a sample of metrics & KPIs that can be included on your dashboard:

list of sample business metrics

This is not to overwhelm you but rather to give you an idea of the possibilities and a place to start thinking about what’s important to you and what you might need on your dashboard. Do not build a dashboard that is just based on the data you have available. Be intentional and create a dashboard based on the story the data is supposed to tell. By that, I mean if the metric or KPI isn’t relevant and doesn’t offer actionable insights, don’t clutter your dashboard with it. 

The Power of Data Visualization

Data visualization is the magic that turns raw numbers into beautifully designed charts and graphs. Data in its rawest form doesn’t carry any significance. Visualizations transform your numbers into a story that can tell you everything you need to know to understand your business from start to finish. A string of large numbers in a document is much more challenging to digest. The brain processes images 60,000 faster than it does text. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. That’s why it’s essential to have different visualization options that cater to various analytical preferences, from graphs and charts to heat maps.

pie chart and waterfall chart samples

One of data visualization’s most powerful attributes is the ability to draw comparisons and uncover relationships. Unlike static spreadsheets, visualizations provide a dynamic platform for understanding data. Along with the visualizations, comparison values are non-negotiable for having on your dashboard. Comparison values compare current numbers to historical values or targets to put today’s numbers into context. With these indicators, you can know at a glance if those numbers are normal or cause for concern. Effective use of visualizations removes ambiguity – the story will be straightforward, so use it to your advantage in decision-making.

Data visualizations are time-saving tools. Analyzing raw data forces you and your team to do the math, but proper data visualization does it for you. Using data visualizations helps you quickly understand and analyze trends and outcomes within your data. When done well, data visualization will tell the story hidden within the numbers in your spreadsheet and provide clear and concise summaries of your data.

Overcoming Dashboard Challenges

The biggest challenge when building a dashboard is often overwhelm by excessive data. To prioritize your data analysis effectively, you should concentrate on the metrics closely connected to your business objectives. Remember that the quality matters, not the amount of data you analyze. To establish a strong foundation, begin with financial metrics, then expand from there. While a dashboard can offer valuable insights, it is essential not to rely solely on the data but also to understand and take action based on what it tells us. I recommend doing a quarterly, if not more often, review of the data and confirming it’s still a priority to your business.

In this day and age, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the data security challenges. Prioritizing compliance for your dashboard and the data sources it connects to is necessary. Conducting regular security audits and partnering only with trusted platforms can help minimize potential risks.

Challenges aside, integrating a dashboard into your business can become vital in shaping your busine­ss strategy. Metrics are far more than just numbe­rs; they serve as the­ pulse of your business. Dashboards enable you to consume information quickly, making it easier to see trends and predict outcomes. A well-designed dashboard consolidates the performance of your business. It allows you to stay on top of opportunities and changes without taking much time out of your busy day. It becomes easy to understand the present, look back at the past, project for the future, and drive your business forward with clarity and confidence.

Share this post