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3 Common Financial Dashboard Myths—Debunked

In most companies, business leaders live and die by their numbers regardless of the circumstances in which they hit or miss them. External conditions could be favorable, and you could hit them with little effort. Being faced with a lot of headwind and missing your targets but faring better than your competitors might still make you an underperformer. Corporate life could be easier with more holistic performance assessments.

If you’re driving on the highway and your dashboard lights come on, you know you’ve got a problem: The engine’s overheating. Your tire pressure is low. You need to get gas.

Financial performance dashboards can work the same way. They are sensors. With the right software support, dashboards can offer real-time, easy-access insights that highlight where a company might be in trouble.

But there is more. That was about control. At a higher level is navigation. Similar to a GPS in a vehicle, software can help managers and employees follow the executive team’s “Where do we want to go?” strategy by enabling them to view KPIs against their targets. This helps managers and employees to monitor the next question—“How well are we getting there?” That is, how is the progress toward accomplishing the strategic objectives that comprise the C-suite team’s formulated strategy? This enables strategy execution.

As the sheer volume of business data grows, the demand for more responsive financial dashboards is on the rise. According to the Adaptive Insights CFO Indicator report, 45% of CFOs cited a dashboard and analytics system as the software solution they didn’t have that would most contribute to agility in the finance organization. Similarly, 45% of CFOs said they plan to invest in a dashboard and analytics solution by 2020.

But many finance leaders are still struggling to take the leap. Some believe rolling out smart software will require bulky IT infrastructure, while others worry that dealing with dashboards will take too much of their teams’ time.

Don’t let these misconceptions cloud your decision-making process. Read on to see three dashboard myths debunked.

Myth #1: Dashboard data is always outdated

It’s true that extracting data from multiple sources using antiquated software may leave organizations with dashboards that are outdated by the time they’re distributed for reporting. But the right dashboard software will offer real-time and prospective future view information—not just a rearview perspective.

Software can automate data integration by allowing users to easily schedule or run on-demand updates. This keeps dashboards up-to-date and makes it simple to adjust a plan or forecast based on a change in performance, varying customer demand, or a market shift.

Frequent updates also make it easy to visually compare performance across time periods and offer insights that executive teams can act on within the month, week or—better yet—the day the dashboards are released. Visualization is important and better than racked and stacked table data. Your mother told you when you were young that looks are not everything. She lied! They are when it comes to speeding up gaining insights and insight from information with visualization.

Myth #2: Using dashboards requires IT support

You shouldn’t need a team of tech savants to collect and analyze real-time metrics. In fact, for dashboards to be effective, they shouldn’t be reliant on IT at all. Today’s software technologies are designed for the casual user.

Customizable dashboards allow people across the organization, regardless of their technical skills, to slice and dice data in a way that will inform business decisions. Drag-and-drop features let users easily view current variances from plans or expectations or to compare year-over-year numbers with a few simple clicks.

Myth #3: Dashboard software rollouts are too time-consuming

Finance teams are being asked to deliver strategic analysis and insights faster than ever. If your team is already under water, it may seem impossible to adopt new technology. But the pace of change is only going to accelerate.

With self-service dashboard software, managers and employee teams will be able to provide strategic business insights and foresight at a much faster pace, quickly making up for any time lost during the rollout. Plus, the right dashboard technology will let organizations display visual data in a way that’s easy for any viewer to digest and draw conclusions from. These tools help turn spreadsheets into stories that convey the narrative the company needs to care about—and helps enable responsive business decisions.

In today’s dynamic business environment, organizations cannot deliver results by simply staying the course with the status quo. By leveraging smart dashboard software, organizations can transform standard data into powerful strategic insights that their organization can use to navigate the twists and turns that lie ahead.

Dashboards are like the car described earlier. They get you to your destination quicker, cheaper, and more safely.

Want to get even more value from your financial dashboards? Watch the webinar “Common Dashboard Mistakes and How to Fix Them.”

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