If you are old enough, you may remember what dashboards were like in cars built at the beginning of the automobile age. They were nothing like today.
All you had was a gas gauge and a speedometer. Everything else you had to figure out on your own. Today's cars tell you your speed, your fuel, your direction, your miles remaining, and a whole host of other navigational details.
Now, image navigating your business without a dashboard. You don't have a dashboard? Don't feel bad, most business owners don't. Even when they have the available data, they have no organized, efficient way of looking at it to see how they are doing.
Management dashboards do not have to be complicated. If fact, you can easily create one for yourself if you don't want to buy any of dozens of software programs designed to produce dashboard data for your business. Regardless of how you do it, knowing how to make use of a dashboard is what insures you derive the management focus you need to accomplish what's important.
What needs measuring?
You've probably heard the says, 'what gets measured, gets done'. And since it makes no sense to measure everything, the question becomes, "What should I be measuring to insure my business performs the way I want"? Start with the most essential areas:
Try to limit the list to between 8-10 primary areas. Make sure each area summarizes an important part of your business. The idea is to see just enough activity to know what to take a deeper look at if needed.
Do you need metrics?
Yes, you need specific goals to benchmark the activity. Goals should be specific, realistic, achievable, and have a timeframe. The best way to measure dashboard goals is to compare the activity to stated goals, time frames, and previous results.
Here's an example:
Revenue for the week- compared to the revenue goal for the week, the revenue results from the prior week and the revenue results from the same week last year. Arranged in a spreadsheet format, you can create a simple but informative report for all of the key areas you want to measure.
Who has time to do this?
Well, if you're business is big enough to have employees, they should. If each person responsible for one or more areas of your dashboard adds their data to the report at regular reporting intervals, you can have your dashboard updated whenever you want; weekly, monthly or quarterly. Remember, if the reporting is too far apart, your ability to see problems and initiate corrective action will be diminished.
Effective management focus requires a system that spots trouble before it sinks your ship. A management dashboard is an excellent way to stay on top of the most vital aspects of your business.
If you don't have one and would like help creating and implementing one for you business, contact me and I'll get you started.
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About the Author
Steve provides leadership, management and marketing coaching to business owners, executives and entrepreneurs worldwide. Considered the Catalyst for Change by the California Business Journal, Steve has coached over 400 business professionals to date.