Good Dashboards Lead to Good Decisions

A financial dashboard is an excellent management tool to help executives at fast-growing companies make better decisions. It provides a quick understanding of key financial performance indicators that drive your company’s growth. Effective dashboards have a simple design, are readily accessible, and easily understood. Dashboards are best used regularly so you can detect patterns over time.  

If you are not getting the financial information you need, or that info is too difficult to understand, try using a dashboard instead.

What Should Be On a Dashboard?

The financial dashboards we create for customers track performance against a plan and/or a prior period. While you should decide which metrics matter most in your business, the KPIs we typically see are:

  1. Cash on hand
  2. Net Sales (month- and year-to-date)
  3. Top 10 sales by customer
  4. Top 10 sales by product
  5. Gross margin
  6. Accounts receivable
  7. Collections
  8. Accounts payable

We’ll graph sales, margin and cash flow KPIs so the user can readily see if the trend is favorable or unfavorable. Continuous improvement matters, especially if you are raising funds. More sophisticated dashboards bind financial data to operational measures. For example, a dashboard can calculate the cost to acquire a customer. This helps measure marketing effectiveness.

How Do I Create One?

General ledger software such as SageIntacct has built in customizable dashboards. We use it with our customers to tailor reporting and deliver it to any device such as a smartphone, tablet or computer. As data is continually refreshed, the dashboard provides real-time feedback. It can connect to other systems to bring in non-financial data as well.

If your software does not have native dashboard capability, you can use third party software or create simple dashboards using Excel. We recommend using an Excel-based dashboard before investing in a third-party solution. It’s important to make sure you are measuring the right data and are actually using the tool.

Why Do I Need It?

Well-crafted dashboards provide highly relevant data that enables you to proactively meet the challenges of your business. For example, if you see your cash balance deteriorating faster than expected, you can take action before it becomes a problem. If you wait until a monthly financial statement it may be too late.

A dashboard is the result of daily transaction processing that distills your company’s basic data into useful knowledge. A dashboard is meant to work for you, providing you information in a format you can easily understand. If you are not getting the financial information you need, or that info is too difficult to understand, try using dashboards instead. You may be surprised at how effective they can be.