Small business biggest dashboards mistakes and 3 simple rules to fix them

Small business biggest dashboards mistakes

Business dashboards create massive value for all firms yet Small business biggest dashboard mistakes can stop a dashboard project in its tracks.

Smaller businesses are typically far more resource constrained than larger businesses and rely more heavily on the intuition, knowledge and judgement of their executives to keep on track.  When you arm these executives with interactive, real time business dashboards that give them all of their key metrics 24/7, the outcomes are astonishing.

Small business biggest dashboards mistakes

Sadly, for many small businesses, resource constraints mean building an effective business dashboard isn’t always easy.  These things take time, expertise and a wide range of technical skills.

Those that do attempt to create business dashboards typically fall prey to one of a few common mistakes:

  • Creating a dashboard that no one needs
  • Spending way too much time and money creating dashboards
  • Building a dashboard and not being able to share it with the people who need it

If you have experienced any of these issues, then you are not alone.

Here are 3 simple rules that will help fix these issues and help you make sure you don’t fall prey to them ever again:

Find a champion in the business

An audience member that will completely support the dashboard and its value.

You have to know who your audience is and it’s critical to know who the most important member of that audience is.  It could be the CFO, CEO, the Operations Manager, etc.

Either way, there is someone who’s close to the top of the tree who will be the most interested in this dashboard that you are building.  They are the ones who have the most to gain from it, and perhaps the most to lose if it doesn’t happen.

Understand their needs, what their motivations are for this dashboard and work out what key metrics they need to see and why.

Only have three metrics on any one dashboard

There is only so much you can fit on a screen.

Human nature tells us that we should try and cram in as much information as possible so we can give the audience plenty to work with.

The problem is that humans and can only absorb so much information at any one time.  Information overload does the opposite of informing the audience, it generally leaves them more confused.  We want to keep things simple, concise and contextual.

Make sure every dashboard you create contains only three key metrics.  Now, these metrics can be displayed in multiple ways. For example, you could display revenue over time as a line graph and also display revenue for the current period broken down by key revenue streams.

Make sure you have access to all the data you need for the dashboard

This is fundamental and should seemingly go without saying.  Obviously, you have the data somewhere, hopefully.  But what kind of format is it in?

Typically, a lot of dashboards are built off of excel data.  It’s just the easiest way to get started.  But a lot of the rich data or meta data is not stored in Excel. You’d find this in a CRM database like Salesforce or SAP and to be honest they can be a bit hard to get access to. Unless you have an open and progressive IT team, it might be difficult to get the data so you will need to rely on exports.

The key is to work out what data you need to support the questions that will be asked of the dashboards.

Once you’ve worked out what data is needed, work out where this data is kept in its most raw form.  I’m not talking about export summary or data dumps. If you want to create a dashboard that is automatic and hands free, you need to tap into the source data, not into the exported data that James sends you via email each month that you then save to a special location so your dashboard gets updated.

That’s not sustainable

If you don’t have the data you need or can’t get access to it, then change your perspective on what you will be creating.  There is no point building a dashboard that won’t be able to deliver the answers they need.

Following these simple rules when building your next dashboard will put you on the right path to ensure you deliver success.