Connecting Financial and Operational Data Through The Power Of Your Dashboards

by Angela Ashton

Forrester reports that while 74% of firms say they want to be “data-driven”, only 29% say they are good at connecting analytics to action.1

Dashboards are one such facilitating tool you can use to build and share a system of insight and drive data decision making. When designed correctly, they deliver a clear message on what’s working and what’s not, shining a light on key issues, highlighting areas of focus and assisting in investigating direction.

There are many BI technology choices in the marketplace, providing you with the capability to create interactive dashboards in minutes.

However, data analysis should not be an isolated task and to be truly effective these dashboards should be built with collaboration in mind. Thus, it is important to allow your team members to share data, make follow up queries, and forward easy-to-digest visualisations to others who also could gain value from the data.

A well-designed dashboard does not make you think about the structure or design itself - rather, the objective is to draw your attention to the metrics themselves.

Some of the fundamental characteristics of a well-designed dashboard include:

  • The ability to tell a story
  • Visual features and graphics styles
  • Contrast guidance – dark vs light
  • Font & text considerations

There are many aesthetic ‘does and don’ts’ when designing a dashboard and though they ought to be visually appealing, that is not their main objective.

As Tridant CFO, Richard Little encapsulated this recently at the Tridant & RSM Australia Finance Executive Breakfast event.  The CFO role continues to evolve in a rapidly changing ‘disruptive’ landscape, where there is an even greater emphasis on being across everything within their business, both financial and operational.

Whether it is business intelligence, AI, machine learning, robotic process automation, digital transformation, blockchain and new payment systems, now more than ever finance professionals are expected to be the right-hand person to the CEO.  A comparable situation to what they experienced when risk and corporate governance become a key criterion for the CEO.

Using an example of a technology platform start-up company who had engaged Tridant to build four levels of Dashboards, Richard illustrated how they used dashboards to provide a window into all aspects of their business operations.

  1. For Investors – live data and analytics dashboard that they could present to assist presentations to investors for fundraising the next round of seed capital and to provide information to existing investors
  2. For the Board – provide members with more granular insights into business operations to assist them in identifying focus areas on how they are managing issues of disruption and access to all aspects of the business.
  3. For Management – prove them with an overview of their KPIs and performance scorecards access their fiscal performance data
  4. For Operational Executives – provide them with workforce planning dashboards for better staff utilisation reporting

Subsequently, with well-designed collaborative dashboards and the metrics they provide, you can connect your financial and operational data into insights and drive action into the fabric of your business.

Think You Want To Be “Data-Driven”? Insight Is The New Data, Forrester Blog, 9 March 2016, Brian Hopkins, Forrester VP, Principal Analyst

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