Business Dashboards Made in Excel
In order to make the correct decisions, you need to have the correct information. Whatever decision you need to make, whether it me at director, manager or supervisor level, you need to have the correct information to make an informed decision. You may currently be responsible for making important decisions, but do you have the relevant information to make them confidently? We live in a time where data is so abundant, we have more of it than we ever did, but we need to turn that data into useful information. That is what a good dashboard can do for you. Take a look at these three examples of various types of dashboards, and how they help.
What the raw data showed: This raw data was not an exported CSV file, it was actually manually entered by the staff. This meant that we could add value, by making the data entry cells more informative for the staff. We were able to predict when each stage of the product would become due, based on the average life-cycle of a project. This meant that the cells would change colour as they became due or overdue, to remind the staff that action was required. Even though this was useful for the staff, the management needed to see an overall view. When your time is valuable to you, you don’t need to waste it by micro-managing at this level, you need to see an overall view so that you can make the right decision as quickly as possible.
How the dashboard helped: The dashboard took information from about 5 entry tabs, and produced some bespoke reports for the director. We were briefed on exactly what the director wanted to know, so that he felt comfortable to make the decisions. This was no problem, as we had all of the raw data available. The dashboard gave the director an analysis of the project progressions, the staff achievements, and the financial situation. Not only that, but he had the option to select any of the individual projects, in order to see a detailed report of that particular project.
Conclusion: This dashboard was dual-focused. We created a tool that made the staff’s job easier, as it prompted them as to what was required. They could come into the office, and immediately be focused on what was required of them. The director was happy that they were more focused and productive, but also the fact that he could see up to date progress reports whenever he wanted. He simply looked at the management dashboards to see the bespoke reports which he had requested, which were updated automatically as his staff entered the data.
What our client had to say: The dashboard keeps the whole business group informed and therefore aids us in our decision making in how to progress with each project. There is also the facility to view up to date reports on the health of the business, which helps us create more effective business strategies and streamline operations.
An absolutely brilliant bit of kit that keep the business performing to their best – I don’t know how we survived without this previously!
What the raw data showed: This raw data showed the client’s energy usage, per half hour, for a year. The energy meters would export a CSV file, showing how much energy was used for every half hour period, for an entire year. Extremely useful data, but not in its raw state. The image you see is only a fraction of the data, imagine scrolling down through lines and lines of this. Would you make sense of that? A classic example of how much data we have, yet so little valuable information on which to base our important decisions.
How the dashboard helped: The dashboard analysed the data, and firstly showed the annual usage. This showed clearly where the peaks and troughs were on a monthly and annual basis. It clearly showed busy periods and periods of high energy usage. We could then see a report for each month, which showed us patterns within each month. It then had the same information on a weekly and daily view, the image shown is the daily report. We were even able to show which periods during the day were regularly ‘high use’ periods. The data is now not just raw data, but extremely useful information, on which decisions can be made.
Conclusion: We have taken raw data, which was actually quite useless to use to make decisions, and we have produced a production report, which shows exactly what the data means. This is now extremely useful, and an absolute necessity, if you wish to make informed decisions. Knowing when you’re using energy, and when it is best to use energy, means that you can decide what is the best practice. So often people just end up chasing the ‘cheapest price’, but maybe changing your process (like when you use the energy), may actually save you more money. This is an example of the kinds of decisions you can make, if you have the right information.
What our client had to say: Understanding how we used energy was the key to reducing the cost. You can spend ages chasing the cheapest quote, but the price of your energy largely depends on your usage. Understanding how and when we were using energy, not only helped us to identify the best energy supplier, but also showed us how we could make further savings by adjusting our work patterns. We’re keen to explore other dashboards, in order to see what else can be discovered.
What the raw data showed: The raw data is simply an exported CSV file from each of the social media platforms. Each month we download CSV exports from Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Mailchimp, Twitter, and Google Analytics, and we copy and paste each set of data into the respective spreadsheet. The CSVs just show values in columns and rows, the rows usually being dates, and the columns are different actions taken.
How the dashboard helped: Those spreadsheets then give us month by month reports, showing how we have improved. Each of those spreadsheets then have exportable data which feed into a master spreadsheet. The master spreadsheet allows us to assign points to various actions taken on our social media accounts. This allows us to compare platforms based on our own unique preferences. We use these spreadsheets every month, to see how we have performed, but also to decide what content has worked better and what we need to promote going forward. We use these spreadsheets every month, as do many other businesses, because we give them away at no charge.
Conclusion: Social Media and marketing can be a bottomless pit for our time and money. You can spend a fortune on marketing, and if you do your social media yourself, you know just how time consuming it can be. Ideally we would all like to know how effective our marketing has been from a financial point of view, but that is not always possible to calculate exactly. We can however get a very accurate view of how our marketing is doing thanks to analytics from the marketing sources. If we make good use of this data, it can be invaluable to help us make the right decisions going forward.
What we have to say: We have been using these tools to analyse and compare our social media platforms for many months, and it has helped us to see the big picture. It not only shows us what we have achieved through social media marketing, but it also helps us to see what content works and what doesn’t, so that we know what to change and what to keep doing. What is more, is that we have tailored the ‘points system’ to our specific requirements, so that we can compare platforms. If you would also like to use these tools, please download them with our compliments here.
These kinds of dashboards are best used in conjunction with a Cost Management & Productivity Specialist, in order to get the most value out of them. For such a service, we partner with Sancus Ltd. If you would like to know more about what our partnership could offer you, please use the link (Increase Your Margin) provided.