Business is all about having the right information before even talking about making the right decisions. Many times businesses are run “from the gut” or with intuition alone. That may have worked in the past, but if you can confirm a gut instinct with data, a simple transaction becomes smart business.
Smart business is where everyone wants to be, but it’s not easy. It requires discipline and focus. With the whirlwind of activities and dashing back and forth of business deals, who has the time to dig up data anyway? Each day can be a battle of productivity, but isn’t information most crucial when you are just in the thick of a fight? Remember what G.I. Joe used to say? I used to repeat it all the time as a kid: “Knowing is half the battle.” What a wise cartoon character, and what a valuable life lesson he gave me!
So, what is the best way to have data at hand without so many long complicated reports? A key factor to managing a business successfully is developing a dashboard. Dashboards are intended to give you a quick, comprehensive, precise snapshot of the state of the company.
How can you develop a dashboard? Here are 6 steps that I follow:
Identify key metrics. It’s fundamental to find out which are the most important metrics. Remember to include qualitative metrics along with the quantitative data.
Focus on lead measures, not lag measures. A dashboard is intended to be proactive, not reactive. Do not focus as much on what has already happened but on what you can still do to change the outcome desired.
Confirm your data sources. The data will only be as good as its source. The input must be timely and reliable.
Design a user-friendly “one-pager.” Fit the dashboard on one page so that you can see everything at once. The more pleasing to the eye, the more you will enjoy using it. No one likes to stare at an eyesore.
Update consistently. This tool is only as useful as the frequency with which it is used. Determine how often you will review this tool and hold yourself accountable.
Review, analyze, and act. Discuss the hard facts to understand how to improve and set the right strategies and tactics to achieve the desired outcome.
Knowing where the right information is will get you to the right solution.