The pace of business is accelerating—and with that quickening in tempo comes a need for ever-faster insights into how the business is performing. And the contrast with the era of printed reports, produced weekly, is remarkable. These days, an executive dashboard provides real-time visibility into business performance, delivering powerful metrics in easy-to-read visual formats.
The result? As with your car, all the information that’s important to you is gathered together in one place—your executive dashboard—helping you to progress speedily and efficiently towards your objectives.
But the fact remains that many businesses don’t yet really ‘get’ executive dashboards. They look at images of an executive dashboard, and understand that they provide performance data in visually compelling forms such as charts and ‘gauges’, but then fail to see the transformational impact that this can offer.
And it’s a blind spot that is holding back both businesses and individual executives from achieving a step change in performance.
So let’s look at three ways in which an executive dashboard change the way that performance data is presented—thereby transforming the art of the possible.
Executive dashboards pull together data from many systems
We’re all busy people. But equally, we waste time navigating from system to system, looking to see how well the things that we are responsible for are progressing. What level of production did we achieve yesterday? How many orders are overdue? What does that equate to in terms of sales revenues? How are our suppliers performing?
Now imagine an executive dashboard that gathers together all of this data, presenting it to you visually in a single place, accessible at a glance, without requiring you to click from system to system. And imagine, too, an executive dashboard with ‘drill down’ capabilities, providing a way to find out not only—for example—which orders are overdue, but why they are overdue, and where they are now.
Running quietly in the background, and constantly updating, the executive dashboard provides precisely this capability—delivering it to executives’ desktops as required.
Executive dashboard: your flexible friend
Of course, no two executives have the same executive responsibilities, or the same reporting requirements. My dashboard, in short, needs to reflect my requirements—and yours, your requirements.
Naturally, too, priorities and areas of focus change over time. At some times of the year, we might be more interested in some metrics than others. Or as one business challenge recedes, we might start to focus on another.
That’s the beauty of an executive dashboard that is readily customisable: as executives’ information needs change, an executive dashboard can change with those requirements, providing instant access to what matters today—delivered direct to the desktop.
And naturally, these days that ‘desktop’ can be as mobile as you are—a tablet computer to look at as you walk around the factory, or a smartphone, or a laptop while you’re away from the office, travelling on business.
Executive dashboard: performance in context
As with any business intelligence tool, the power of performance reporting is enhanced by making contextual comparisons.
How are we doing against budget? How are we doing against forecast? How are we doing versus this time last year?
Put another way, what do we need to focus on right now? Which metrics are in the danger zone, coloured red? Which are within acceptable limits, coloured green? And which are borderline danger zone, coloured orange?
Reports, constructed of columns of numbers, invariably struggle to represent performance data with this degree of reporting richness.
Not so with an executive dashboard, designed from the ground up to be accessible at a glance, providing busy executives with what they need to know now.
Executive dashboard: the bottom line
Talk to old-timers, and they’ll tell you about spreadsheets. These days spreadsheets are completely ubiquitous, and everybody uses them all the time. We take for granted that we can change a number, see the data in other columns and rows instantly recalculate, and see charts re-drawn in real-time.
Yet prior to the advent of the personal computer, spreadsheets simply didn’t exist. Because a page of paper couldn’t recalculate in real-time: a document needed to be re-typed or re-printed from scratch.
The executive dashboard is just such a revolution. It’s obvious once you’re familiar with it, and executives quickly wonder how they managed without it. Yet until they are familiar with the power of an executive dashboard, it can be difficult to grasp just how compelling a tool it is.
So if that describes you, then it’s time to start putting that right.