What is an executive dashboard?
An executive dashboard is a digital control panel. From one place, you can see all relevant data about your business. Dashboards are used as a simple way to keep tabs on various aspects of an organization and to stay updated in real time. Data is presented as an easy-to-read combination of text and infographics.
What does it do?
An executive dashboard employs an application programming interface (API), which “interfaces” or gathers information from all your business applications. It brings together data from the business software you currently use and presents it on one visual dashboard, in a streamlined, viewer-friendly format. And you can adjust it to show the information you want, the way you want to see it. This can include website analytics, email, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and accounting software. It helps you track everything that you measure: progress, sales, marketing, bank accounts, net income, communications, response rates, and customer satisfaction, to name only a few.
How does it benefit me?
With an executive dashboard, you’ve got the numbers constantly in front of you. As far as data goes, there are no surprises; there is no guessing. Every hour of the workday, you know exactly where to find all your information. And because it already provides an organized presentation of all the data, it eliminates that “scatterbrained” feeling of trying to log in to multiple systems and keep track of details in various formats.
Streamlines everyday tasks
Your administrators will be grateful, and you will be grateful for the extra time, too. Dashboards automate and streamline everyday tasks like running reports. You will note the difference it makes to receive the information you need, just when you need it, rather than having to research or request it each time. It is the like the difference between walking to get the newspaper and having it delivered to your front door.
Improves performance and communication
If you communicate to your employees all that’s available to you through an executive dashboard, including employee performance and progress, it doesn’t need to scare or intimidate employees into better work. It is true that people tend to work harder when they know they are being watched, but this can also cause undue anxiety. Rather, use your executive dashboard to open up two-sided conversations about projected areas of improvement, and celebrate progress when you see it. It also may reveal places employees feel they need more training or support, since knowing their progress is being tracked may encourage them to view areas of weakness with more honesty.
Because you’re on top of your progress in real time, you always have a sense of where you are, and therefore you can constantly be marking where your next threshold lies. It also gets you out of your imagination. As an executive or visionary, it can be all too easy to stay in the realm of either worries or dreams, afraid you’re missing something or projecting into the future. Not only do executive dashboards cut down on worry, but they also keep you grounded by presenting an accurate assessment of where your business is at any given moment. You can get to that imagined future only if you keep a realistic, updated, and complete picture of your business’s life in front of you.
How to build a great executive dashboard
Security and Share ability
There are a few key factors to making sure your executive dashboard works for you. First, you need a dashboard you can be ensured is completely secure and yet available to view by web, rather than housed only on one machine. You will find times in which you want to share your dashboard — perhaps at times with employees to help them see what you’re seeing — so you want to make sure it’s both safe and shareable.
Avoid manual entry
Second, as you build your dashboard, do not do so with manually entered data. Manual entry is sometimes used instead of APIs, but this is not recommended. There is too much margin for error, and may not truly reduce workload enough in this case to make the investment worth it.
What kind of dashboard do you need? A dashboard can allow you to “zoom out” or “zoom in;” you can examine metrics as they relate to long-term goals, and you can also examine data relevant to immediate objectives. A dashboard that primarily does the former is called “analytical;” a dashboard that primarily does the latter is called “operational.” Next, what metrics, in particular, are most important to you, and most help you analyze your approach to your goals? You may want to include, for example:
Anything you need to measure and track, a dashboard organizes and presents in one clear, accessible location.
When it’s time to determine how a dashboard fits into your plans, Range, a Deluxe company, can integrate an executive dashboard into your business toolkit seamlessly. Get in touch today to learn more about the comprehensive business and marketing solutions we offer.