Many small- and medium-sized businesses have a list of ideas for changes they’ll make or software they’ll introduce when they’re bigger. They often make the assumption that certain things are not worth doing while they’re small.
However, in many cases, it’s better to begin early and adapt as you grow rather than to suddenly try and instigate change when your business is much larger and more complicated.
This applies to building a financial dashboard, too. It’s far better to start when you’re small so you can test the waters and see what works for you and what doesn’t.
Why do you need a financial dashboard?
A financial dashboard will provide a series of charts and graphs to show you exactly what’s going on in your business in real-time. From total monthly sales to income and expenditure, you can see the health of your business at a glance.
Consider how much time you or your employees currently spend putting reports together in spreadsheets. Reports that you produce more than once should go on your dashboard and once there, they can be automated to update on a regular basis – even every hour.
Each morning, you can receive an email from your dashboard giving you a summary of your business. For example, you could decide to include profits, sales comparisons, monthly expenditure – whatever metrics are most important to you.
Now just imagine what you could do with that level of insight.
Measure performance and increase profits
A financial dashboard will allow you to measure performance by tracking turnaround times. You can have a visual insight into which areas are performing highly and which are underperforming. And this includes profits.
If your dashboard shows an area of your business is doing poorly, you know where to focus your resources. Real-time insights into what’s working and what’s not will enable you to spend time in the right areas instead of wasting time and effort on something that can take care of itself.
The key to gaining these insights is to pick the right KPIs to include on your dashboard. In short, measure everything of significance to your business because you can then start to improve in every area that you track.
What to include on your financial dashboard?
A small business needs a big financial dashboard. After all, the more information you have, the better equipped you are to steer your business in the right direction.
These are just some of the areas you should focus on:
Financial Performance: show information such as profit margins and cash balances. You can compare net and gross profits and revenue with earlier years to gain insight into your spending and earning.
Sales Activities: charts can display information such as sales per month, month-by-month and year-on-year comparisons as well as total figures for your best and worst selling products and services.
Marketing and Social Media Response: discover how much revenue a particular promotion generated, how customers are finding you, how many visits are paid to your website, how effective your marketing campaigns are.
Customer Profiles: understand who your best customers are, and where there are potential cross-sell or up-sell opportunities. Discover where you are winning new business and then act on that knowledge.
How to make your metrics work for you
Now you’ve chosen which metrics to measure, you need to look at ways to bring them to life. How will you and your employees interpret this information?
The trick is to introduce a business analytics service with intuitive dashboards and interactive financial reports. A cloud-based service like Microsoft Power BI can offer real-time dashboards, visual reports along with mobile apps so you can view critical business information from anywhere.
Power BI is used by small and medium businesses across a variety of industries because it’s able to present a diverse range of live data that would otherwise be inaccessible to most users.
With Power BI, you have a consolidated financial view of your business and a simplified way to interact with your data. It enables you and your staff to ask questions and receive answers in the form of interactive visualisations and dashboards.
You can then drill through the dashboard into underlying reports and obtain new insights that can be pinned back to the dashboard, so you can continue to monitor performance.
Power BI and Sage 50
For many business owners and accountants, the problem in the past has been how to access insights from Sage 50 data.
To overcome this challenge, we designed BI GO to work with the intuitive analytical capabilities of Power BI and obtain actionable insights from the volumes of data held in Sage 50.
With a real-time visual display of your Sage data, you can track key performance indicators, view interactive financial reports, analyse trends and make data-driven decisions in real-time.
Your chosen employees can have a secure login to BI GO that allows them to access reports and insights on their personal dashboard. For many, this will eliminate the laborious process of putting financial reports together manually. Instead, BI GO gives them the metrics they need to do their job and independently evaluate the insights provided.
And by using BI GO to combine Power BI and Sage 50, you can enable mobile working and BYOD without the need to overhaul your accounting software. By giving your staff access to BI GO, they can create, view and share information in the office, or from a laptop or smartphone when they’re on the move.
The result is higher workforce productivity but in a secure environment.
Bring the power of big data to your dashboard
By understanding exactly how your business is performing, you can start to make transformative decisions – based on hard fact rather than guesswork. And with real-time information and insights at your fingertips, you can gain significant commercial advantage.
If you’re a small business, don’t wait until you’re bigger – take the initiative now and invest in a financial dashboard that will help you get to where you want to be.
Book your free dashboard demo
If you’d like to find out more about BI GO and Microsoft Power BI, get in touch for a free demonstration.