The Benefits of Dashboards in Your Month-end Financial Presentations

This article focuses on using dashboards in monthly financial presentations for stronger decision-making.

Image taken from Shutterstock.

Image taken from Shutterstock.

Graphics are everywhere. They are literally everywhere we go, filling our kitchen pantries and even the clothes we wear. Red Crow Marketing Inc. mentions that “digital marketing experts estimate that most Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements each day.” If we’re drawn to visuals, doesn’t it make sense to apply visuals to your financial reports and presentations? Think about receiving multiple pages of spreadsheets full of data. Is this how you best extract your financial analysis at the end of every month? This is where a dashboard comes in handy. Dashboards are defined as charts, graphs, and scorecards that convey data trends, successes, and problem areas with key performance indicators (KPIs), whether you are looking at a store, region, product, and a corporate department in particular, or the entire organization. A dashboard presents key data from various financial and operational sources on a single page, and uses graphs and tables to summarize a large amount of data. In this article, Solver Controller Gina Louie will talk about her experiences in presenting month-end financial presentations to the management team.

Why is it important to have a month-end financial presentation?
Louie: It’s important to have month-end financial presentations because it provides a picture to executives and other major stockholders of how the company is performing from a financial standpoint.  It allows them to see how the company is doing financially and what areas of an organization are doing well or perhaps need some additional attention.  It provides the “audience” with an indication of how the organization is actually performing.  Having a financial presentation is important overall in order to highlight variances or trends between actual performance versus budget and forecast expectations, but it is especially significant to have monthly ones because this cadence gives managers and executives enough time to provide new information or make corrections if needed before a calendar quarter or year has been completed.
What are some benefits of using a dashboard in your month-end financial presentations? 
Louie: The benefits of using dashboards allow me to quickly and efficiently point out to my audience the operational areas that deserve special attention.  It also allows me to highlight special trends that I may be seeing in particular areas, such as accounts receivables, revenues, direct costs or operating expenses.  There are many ways to slice and dice the financial information that is gathered, but having a dashboard makes it visually more easy and concise to present a financial recap to those that I am presenting to.
Do you use a dashboard for your financial presentations? If so, why do you like it? What’s your favorite part?
Louie: Yes, I use quite a few dashboards each month for our monthly presentations.  I like it because they are easily accessible, real-time, and makes it easier to engage the individuals I’m presenting to.  My favorite part is the fact that the information is summarized quickly and very easy to retrieve.
What is the most profound/valuable information you have received from your financial presentations using a dashboard that you probably would not have seen without a dashboard?
Louie: The most valuable information has been being able to see trends related to revenues (both new and recurring, international and domestic) and partner margins and the mix of products that we sell and what percentage of the total each of them make up.  I believe this information has been eye-opening and valuable for myself and many members of the management team.
With Louie’s experience with dashboards, you are able to see how much it has not only benefitted her in highlighting special trends in specific areas, but it has also helped provide clear financial information to executives and other major stockholders of how their organization is performing.
Similar to the dashboards you see in a vehicle, executives can evaluate operational and transaction data trends by looking at the illustrations of that information. The primary distinction between a dashboard in your vehicle and one you might produce for your month-end financial presentations is that business intelligence (BI) data visuals are interactive, so you can make adjustments for better interpretation. The data and analyses from dashboards allow users to focus on a trend that they can keep track of and explore various ways that data visualization can help to ensure a successful future for organizations.
Dashboard reports are different from the traditional accounting reports. Ask yourself if your company’s sales are up or down and if there is a trend related to this. While accounting reports are full of rows and columns with numbers, dashboards give you total visibility into your business. You will learn what is working and what is not working. You are able to make wiser and better decisions with real-time data and graphical views. You will be able to gain better insight, and dashboards will help your organization save big time through automation and avoiding mundane, manual labor. The right dashboard can transform your success in running a company by enhancing decision making for your organization.
Modern dashboard solutions offer powerful and easy-to-use features and functionalities to access, interpret, and understand organizational data for better decision-making. Solver would be happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s Excel, web, and/or mobile based, easy-to-use dashboards module stand-alone and component in the comprehensive suite of BI modules for collaborative, streamlined decision-making capabilities.
Solver enables world-class decisions with BI360, a leading web-based CPM suite made up of budgeting, reporting, dashboards, and data warehousing, delivered through a web portal. Solver is reinventing CPM with its next generation solution. BI360 empowers business users with modern features including innovative use of Excel in the model design process. If you’re interested in learning more, our team is excited to hear about your organizational needs and goals.

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