Dashboard reporting is designed to make life easier. They are a one page snapshot of the real time results of a business and how it is performing against key measures. It is a clear and concise, visually appealing representation of key business drivers and risks. Sounds great right? Well there are a few limitations and issues with dashboard reporting. Here are the key issues you need to be conscious of when viewing your report. The challenges of dashboard reporting
1. Updating Information
A dashboard report is only useful and relevant if the key information is kept up to date. Depending on the number of systems required to gather the information and how much manual input is required this can often be difficult to achieve. Finding ways to automate the data collection through a dashboard reporting tool can certainly help ensure that the information is updated regularly if not in real time.
Accuracy can be an issue with updating of the information. Inputting data into spreadsheets, only to transfer it to a dashboard can be hazardous and human error can prevail. If you do need to use information that is contained in spreadsheets ensure that you are reviewing the formulas and other formatting on a regular basis and that spot checks are performed to avoid data entry errors.
2. Reviewing your Dashboard
Dashboard reports are not meant to be ornamental. They allow a business owner or manager to see an overall snapshot of the business at a moment in time. However, it needs to be reviewed and the data analysed, helping you make key business decisions.
Ensure that the information that you are updating in the dashboard is still relevant. What was important for making decisions 12 months ago many not be now. So your dashboard report needs to be agile and changes made based on the needs of the business. Ensure that the right people have been involved in determining the priorities that should be included in the dashboard. Different people in different departments and roles will place a higher value on areas that are important to them. An objective approach needs to be applied.
3. Lack of agility
Unless you are using a sophisticated dashboard software tool you will most likely receive the dashboard as a static document. It provides a snapshot of a moment in time and can’t be manipulated to create different scenarios.
For example it might capture the sales for a particular month, but doesn’t show the individual weeks or days. So you have to work with the data that you have in front of you. However a good dashboard reporting tool will enable you to dive deeper into the data and see a more customised result in real time.
Because the data contained is true and factual we can fall into the trap of assuming it is objective. Interpreting the data in an objective way that also applies other factors and some context and conditions is important in fully understanding the data and ensuing that decisions aren’t made on only half the information.
Dashboard reports are a wonderful and very useful tool. However, they aren’t the answer to all business reporting. While they are necessary as part of the business decision making process a greater level of Due Diligence may need to be applied in some situations.