Dashboards are great way to keep an eye on things to ensure what’s important to you is on track, and if not, to highlight areas that need attention or help. I’ve always been a massive fan of dashboards and encourage most companies I work with to consider some form of dashboards that help operational and strategic decision making.
What are a dashboards?
As we all know, cars have a dashboard which show about 15-20 different pieces of information about the state of the car at a particular time. A flight deck on the other hand has hundreds of little indicators that provide information on a range of measurements which are all useful to ensure the plane stays on course.
For all intents and purposes, think of dashboards as being similar to a car’s dashboard or a flight deck but for your business or personal life. With a business, a dashboard could say how the business is tracking against budgets, the cashflow position, the success rate of meeting customer orders on time, productivity in the manufacturing plant, etc. In personal life, a dashboard should show information such as your current financial position, how you are tracking against life goals, etc.
How do I create a dashboard?
Dashboards can be simple and developed using tools such as spreadsheets, or be complicated and developed using specialist software applications. Or, they could be a combination of both!
For the simple variety, you could have a series of data or information in tables on one worksheet and summarise it on another to provide you with the high level information you require. For the more complex ones, there are enterprise grade software applications that talk directly to a range of databases and provide real-time information. With these applications, you can configure alerts to be sent should exceptions occur and the like. But for now, let’s keep this topic simple!
Dashboards in my life
Personally, I use a combination of spreadsheets and software including web-based applications, google finance & iPhone applications to monitor personal finances, projects and goals. For business, I use spreadsheets for some aspects and software applications for different information such as finance, projects, sales, marketing, analytics, etc for others. One day I hope to be able to bring all of these information onto one portal to make my life easier, but this isn’t high on my list of priorities at the moment.
In future posts, I will write about examples of dashboards that I have come across in various industries. If there is anything specific you would like to read more about or wish share with our readers, please feel free to comment on this topic. As a starting point, do you use dashboards in your life? What do you monitor and how do you monitor it?