Like most business owners, you’ve probably been urged by industry experts and professional advisors to identify the most important types of key performance indicators (KPIs) for your company. So, just for the sake of discussion, let’s say you’ve done that. A natural question that often follows is: Now what? You know you’re supposed to keep an eye on these metrics every day. But how?
You will have coverage with the right technology and big data strategies. There’s a specific type of software that allows business owners to create customized views of all their chosen KPIs. This software is commonly known as a “business dashboard.” And these applications don’t just lay out numbers like a spreadsheet. The best KPI dashboards can provide an easy visual experience that allows you to keep your eyes on the prize: a cost-controlled, profitable company.
Business dashboards have been around for a decade or two in various forms. But today’s solutions have the advantage of being in cloud form. This means that the storage of the data is typically on a secure server off-site. And you can access the dashboard from anywhere at any time on an authenticated device. (You can also still run a dashboard from your company’s own servers, if you prefer.)
If you’ve never used a dashboard before, you might wonder what one looks like. The name says it all. Ideally, a dashboard is a single screen of data — like the panel of gauges in your car. The dashboard will display various financial KPIs for small business in the form of pie charts, bar graphs and other graphic elements.
When shopping for a product, there are a few “must-haves” to insist on. The software should:
Be wary of vendors that over-promise “otherworldly” knowledge of your industry or try to up-sell you on bells and whistles. The best KPI Dashboards are the simple ones. There will always be more complex financial issues regarding your business that can’t be put into simple terms on a dashboard.
Also, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is causing many to question the long-term viability of business dashboards. AI gathers and shapes data so quickly, and in such massive amounts. As such, some experts argue that a business owner’s chosen KPIs can rapidly become outmoded.
Nonetheless, many industries are still using dashboard software. Just prepare yourself to regularly re-assess and, if necessary, update your KPIs.
If you decide to invest in a business dashboard (or upgrade your current one), you’ll need to go about it carefully. Our accounting company can help you set a budget and compare prices and functionalities to get an optimal return on investment.