Reporting Fail? Keys to Avoiding Weak Executive Dashboards

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Putting looks before function is a common downfall of many executive dashboards. Of course, everyone wants sharp, colorful graphics that stand out but if those dashboards don’t deliver the business-critical information they are designed to show, they are failing to do their job. Dashboards, in conjunction with ERP systems such as Microsoft Dynamics GP, provide value by conveying critical information quickly and easily; that’s the only criteria by which they should be judged.

The Importance of Communication

Dashboards were designed to communicate important information quickly to the people that need it. The CFO needs dashboards that are different than those used by a Director/Manager. Dashboards provide company/department status through specific metrics that help each member of a team, regardless of role, do their job properly.

Flashy Designs? No Thanks.

There is no such thing as a “perfect dashboard template”. Dashboards should be set up to avoid additional mouse clicks or scrolling; simplicity is key. The goal should be to explain the meaning of the underlying data at a quick glance. Find a design that simplifies and articulates the basic message so confusion is minimized. Fancy colors and graphics can confuse the reader and do more harm than good. Consider using 2-dimensional graphs as they are easy to read, and be careful with pie charts since they cause more questions than answers.

Simple and Powerful

Company executives and directors juggle numerous projects at any given time and that can have an impact on company success. When it comes to ascertaining the health of their business, they want an easy way to get real-time information so they can make good business decisions. If your organization is already using dashboards, there are a few questions you should ask:

  • Are the dashboards doing what they were designed to do?
  • Is your staff using the dashboards regularly?
  • Are the dashboards delivering the key performance metrics you need quickly and easily?

It is critical for businesses to have easy access to real-time data that can be quickly distilled into actionable information. If your organization is struggling with good dashboard results, you should strongly consider redesigning your dashboards. A few simple tweaks could make a big difference.

For more information on dashboards or other financial management concerns, contact Steve Kane (301-634-2404) or at BroadPoint Technologies, the mid-Atlantic’s largest Microsoft Dynamics reseller.

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