Using Dashboards to Arm Executives with Data that Matters

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    Building an Executive DashboardData is your organization’s most prized asset. However, making data accessible—and actionable—to executives can be a challenge. If you’re like most organizations, you’re probably struggling with managing the sheer amount of your growing data, and all the complexities that come with it: structured versus unstructured data, a myriad of data sources, and lack of resources available to analyze the data.

    But for business leaders—the folks who rely on data to steer strategic decisions—the problem is not the amount of data, it’s the need to have actionable insights. Sure, numbers are great. But information that lends itself to intelligent business decision-making is better.

    So, how can you get the right data in front of leaders to help support effective, fast decision-making? The answer may be custom dashboards built with the executive in mind. Here’s how to make it happen.

    The key elements of an effective executive dashboard

    Executives need to operate swiftly to keep their organizations on course. To do this, they need instant “snapshot” views of where the business stands at all times. These business overviews, which incorporate key data, give executives like CEOs at-a-glance insights to help streamline operations and steer the course.

    Dashboards can incorporate a variety of statistics and insights. We’ve gathered some of the most popular to help guide you in creating your own executive dashboard.

    • Finances: Give CEOs the numbers they need to know, in an instant, how the company stands financially. Current sales goals as compared to targets, revenue, profit, year-over-year and forecast numbers are a great start.
    • New business: What about sales coming down the pipeline? Data here can include new appointments that have been booked, top enterprise versus small and midsize business leads, and even graphs to show how far along each lead is in the sales cycle.
    • Customer service and satisfaction: Customer satisfaction is critical to protecting your brand and your future business stability. CEOs will usually want to know how well customers are being taken care of—and how customers perceive their care. This element could include open versus closed support cases, the time it takes to close a support case, the top types of issues flowing through your customer service department, and recent customer satisfaction survey scores.
    • Key initiatives: Every Executive wants to track their key initiatives. Find out what KPIs matter when tracking these indicatives. This could be the most important set of KPIs to your organization. This may include displaying a percentage of completion, recent milestones accomplished (and the next ones up), and budget spent versus allocated.

    Key points to keep in mind as you create your CEO dashboard

    Like so many things in life and business, executive dashboards aren’t one-size-fits-all. And, that’s the beauty of them. Don’t feel like you must work within a concrete template; the best dashboards are customized to your executive and your business, creating the perfect blend of data, insights and critical alerts.

    • Get to know your CEO. That’s right, take the time to understand your CEO and what he or she truly cares about. It’s smart to meet with them and come prepared with suggestions, but you may find that they care much more deeply about one metric or data set over another.
    • Keep it snappy. The whole point of a dashboard is at-a-glance information. If you have a long scrolling page, or multiple pages, you’re not doing it right. Work with your executive to make the tough decisions about what information stays, or is better suited for a weekly or monthly report.
    • Context is king. Bring your metrics to life, in color, in graphs, in context. One way to do this is to compare today’s metrics with last year’s, or to what’s standard in your industry.

    Put your data to work for you.

    Remember, dashboards are meant to make business easier. Making thoughtful decisions upfront to create a handy dashboard is worth the time—and investment. Your business and your CEO will thank you.