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Dashboards Provide Financial Reporting That is Pretty

April 24, 2018
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Mature businesses, regardless of size, know that understanding their customers, their industry, and their partners is important to being successful. They also know that long gone are the days of having a gut feeling about what works for each of those groups. Customers perpetually surprise us with what they need and want. Even the most traditional of industries are experiencing disruption. And partners are experiencing their own changes that are keeping them on their toes. It’s never been more important for companies to be able to quickly understand how their organization is performing. But pouring over spreadsheets and creating pivot tables are time-consuming tasks. What businesses need is a way to quickly understand every facet of their business and financial health. This is where dashboards come in.

What are Dashboards?

If text and table-based reports were a book, then dashboards are the movie adaptation. Dashboards are the visual representation of data, providing an at-a-glance view of a company’s current position, metrics, and trends. They make it possible to quickly understand information that is important to different business groups and users and is specifically designed to enable decision making. Like the dashboard on your car, they clue you in quickly to how things are going.Dashboards can present data for three different types of reports:

Operational: These dashboards tell you what is happening now with the company. These can be useful for teams that need to make quick decisions based on current conditions, like sales teams. Analytic: Analytic reports give a broader view, allowing teams and leaders to spot trends. While a table of numbers may not immediately look like production is decreasing, a visual chart can make the trend very apparent.

Strategic: For executives looking to view metrics and understand company performance against KPIs, strategic dashboards provide a quick means of viewing and understanding the information.

The Power of Dashboards

Depending on a business user’s goal, dashboards can have certain advantages over table-based reporting.As mentioned above, a dashboard’s visual nature makes it easy to quickly understand data. Humans are largely visual creatures, with the human brain processing images 60,000 times faster than text. This means that data shown to us as charts and graphs are easier to comprehend.The visual nature of dashboards also makes it simple to understand data in context. Dashboards can display various information along with other, relevant data, resulting in business users being able to relate disparate information without multiple reports or page flipping. Since dashboards can bring together data from multiple sources, it’s possible to see a high-level view of how the data fits together, while still being able to drill down to see the supporting information. Sophisticated interactive dashboards allow business users to interact directly with the displayed information to dig deep for insights.And because they can be created to build out their visuals dynamically, dashboards have the ability to show data in near real time. Instead of seeing data that is weeks or months old, the charts and graphs of a dashboard can be built on the fly with data from yesterday or even a few hours ago.Today’s business world is moving at an ever-increasing rate of speed. It’s important that businesses have the tools to make informed, data-driven decisions. It’s not feasible any longer to wait around for month or quarter’s end to gather information on some aspects of the business. And users need to be able to quickly grasp what the data is telling them well enough to make the right choices. These are the areas in which dashboards excel for business users.

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