Dashboard Reporting

There’s a new word that crept into the financial vocabulary a few years ago: “Dashboard”. It’s not a new way of working, just a new word. The software companies latched on to it, instead of having a management reporting module it’s now called a “Dashboard” and in fairness, it is more than just historical financial information shown in tabular format which made us all yawn.

The difficulty is defining what is relevant and what is overload.  A dashboard should be a snapshot, no greater than a page long, often with information shown as graphical presentation. Its purpose is to show how the business is performing against its objectives. The information should be current, not just relevant at the time of going to press.

The dashboard report should be more than just the financial results with colours. All dashboards comprise of four elements

Drivers Results
Quantitative research Qualitative research

 

The Drivers are the key performance indicators (KPI), generally not the financial data a business needs.

The Results are can be described as the numbers; profits, balance sheet data, comparisons.

Quantitative research gathers data in numerical form which can be put into categories, or in rank order, or measured in units of measurement.  This type of data can be used to construct graphs and tables of raw data. Generally the data is sourced from CRM (customer relationship management)systems.

Qualitative research gathers information that is not in numerical form, such as open-ended questionnaires, unstructured interviews and unstructured observations. Qualitative data is typically descriptive data and as such is harder to analyse than quantitative data. By far the most difficult and subjective. It’s importance is the link between benchmarking against historical data and applying the strategy for the business to go forward. It might even be as simple as an observation in market trends.

When designing a dashboard there are two final points to note.  The data must be measurable and secondly apply some form of warning system, traffic lights are the obvious choice, universally understood.