Business Success In Sight: Why Your Business Needs a Real-Time Dashboard - Advise Accountants
13 April 2015
Business Success In Sight: Why Your Business Needs a Real-Time Dashboard

Legendary business author Peter Drucker once said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. So true.

To manage and improve your business, you need to measure and monitor some key numbers. This gives you the control you need to guide your business and improve its performance.

The first thing you need to do is measure how your business is currently performing. This is your baseline against which you can measure your progress.

But ‘measure and manage’ can be more easily said than done, if you don’t have the right management tools at hand.

Simply gathering all the information you need to measure can be a challenge if you’re using different systems and software for different aspects of your business. And even if you do gather all the information you need, how do you make sense of it? Summarise it? Interpret what it all means?

Three keys to making this happen are automation, simplicity and making it visual.

It’s got to be easy, otherwise it won’t happen. You’re busy running your business. You need information served up to you automatically. You don’t want to have to spend time ‘hunting and gathering’ data!

There are now some phenomenal ‘Business Dashboard’ tools available that make it possible. Just like your car has a dashboard to put the most important information front-and-centre for you to make it easy to monitor, a business dashboard gives you a visual and real-time snapshot of the most important numbers in your business.

It wasn’t all that long ago, that such sophisticated management dashboards were only available to big business. The technology has now reached a point where any business can afford to have its own dashboard.

And as business advisors, we strongly recommend you get a real-time dashboard in place for your business. The clarity your dashboard will give you, and your ability to then make better decisions more quickly, makes it worth every penny to set up.

Your business dashboard gives you a visual representation your business’ performance. It can automatically pull in information from a variety of sources (including cloud accounting services such as Xero), your customer stats, your point-of-sale and inventory information, and even marketing information about your website and social media data, and then display it in a simple way that makes instant sense, just like your car’s dashboard. Your key numbers, and simple colour-coded graphs, charts and symbols. You can even drag-and-drop the information on the screen to rearrange it so it makes most sense for you.

And because this all happen in real-time, there’s no need to generate a report to get the information you need. It’s all there on the screen. And it’s always up to date.

Reports are old school in many ways, compared to real-time dashboards.

The sense of control a dashboard gives you is wonderful. You can be away from your business and have in the palm of your hand on your smartphone or tablet, a 100% up-to-date snapshot of how your business is performing in your absence.

The trick to using a dashboard effectively is coming up with the measures that best suit your business. Start with the objectives from your strategic plan, and then look at both the drivers that create the results (e.g. number of quotes issued) and the obvious lag indicators (such as sales).

Identifying the handful of drivers that create your business’ performance. and then measuring, monitoring and improving them is what produces results. We can guide you in that process, having done it with many businesses.

Because every business is different, you may need to try a few different dashboards before you find the one that best suits yours. We love CrunchBoards but which dashboard app is right for you will depend on a range of factors we’ll discuss with you.

The good news is most of them come with a free trial, so you can try them out before making your final decision. Before you sign up for any free trials, however, make a time to sit down with us to identify the drivers and lag indicators you want your dashboard to display, and where (which software programs and systems) the data is stored.

The answers to those questions will dictate which dashboard app is best for you, and will enable you to make the most out of your free trial period.

With the right dashboard and the right measures, the success of your business is literally right in front of you.