What’s your data telling you? How to get the most from your business dashboards

14 Nov 2019

Business Intelligence is the process of analysing data using technologies, which can be used for more informed decision making.  Business intelligence is just as vital for small businesses as for large.  Some small businesses have already started reaping the benefits of intelligence gleaned from their accounting apps, helping them track cashflow more easily. 

Getting started with BI reporting and dashboards can feel like a maze- with different types, different layouts and easy pitfalls. Gathering all your business-critical data into one system can give you real-time answers to any questions, where without a dashboard it can take weeks. It can provide transformative insight into your data and allow you to make those business-critical decisions, backed by data.

Let’s take a look at some best practices to get the most from your BI Dashboards.

What is it?

A Business Intelligence Dashboard is a reporting tool which gives businesses a way to clearly and visually display critical data, all in one place. It can gather progress on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and important data about teams and processes on one screen, giving your business a top-line view of key metrics.

Need more than a top-line view? Don’t worry- this format is what allows all your data to fit onto one screen, but your dashboard will let you click into any data you want to see more about, or output the reports you need.

BI Dashboard Best Practice Tips

  1. Use the right tool for your business

Figuring out which tool is going to be the best fit for your business is key for getting the most out of it. A standalone CRM might give you an insight over your customer data but might not link it up with how sales are being processed and delivered.  By comparison, an end-to-end business management system will give you the most information for the least effort, removing the need to juggle multiple sets of information.  This system could include both your marketing and sales CRM but also your production, despatch, order management, inventory and invoicing. 

  1. Identify why you’re using the dashboard

Clarifying why you need this reporting system and who will benefit from it is just as important as using the right tool. This will allow you to ensure you are displaying data in a way which allows its users to get everything they need from it, and to work more productively. For some, perhaps KPI progress versus quarterly budget is front and centre, or perhaps knowing which stock is available is more important.

The key is to carefully consider what information you need and when. For example, a strategic dashboard is mostly used by executives, and can help you measure your KPIs on a daily rather than monthly basis. 

  1. Review your internal processes & data on a regular basis

Before you set up your new BI system, audit what you need from your businesses processes and information.  More than likely, you’ll be able to simplify processes and save time with all the information you need in one place.  As with any new system, to get maximum value from it, it is vital to assess its progress, make appropriate changes and test them. A little trial and error goes a long way. In the rapidly changing digital world, keeping your systems up to date will ensure they are providing you with the most relevant information, allowing for the best-informed business decisions.

  1. Communication is key

Keeping your dashboard looking great might help make some information more digestible- but it shouldn’t be your end goal. It’s not just about making information look pretty- businesses work faster with the right information.  Automatic access to the information you need empowers your team to make good decisions based on data.

Using BI dashboards can be a great way to monitor your KPI’s and keep the data you need in one place. Now you know how to get the best out of your business intelligence to drive your business forward.

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