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What is a finance dashboard? What does it include?


Topic Expert
Linda Wright
Title: Consultant
Company: Wright Consulting
(Consultant, Wright Consulting) |

It includes your key performance indicators versus goals and then proposes a red, green (on track) or yellow (veering offtrack performance) signal. Very quick way to send performance indicators to an entire organization (including sales, marketing, legal etc.) rather than just using the basic accounting results.

Topic Expert
Charley Kyd
Title: Founder
Company: ExcelUser
(Founder, ExcelUser) |

From my perspective, a "dashboard" is a method of displaying business data. Its purpose is to provide your readers with as much insight as possible with as little reading time as possible.

One dashboard certainly could follow the Balanced Business Scorecard approach, which summarizes key performance indicators. But you certainly could create other dashboards that replace other reports.

Those non-BBS dashboards tend to be chart-rich. The charts tend to be small, and they typically show trends in performance. I've created dashboards with as many as 100 charts on a printed page. But more typically, I create dashboards with 10 to 20 charts per page.

By keeping your charts small, you allow your readers to compare many trends in performance on one page.

If your dashboards contain tables, the tables should be small. That is, your tables should summarize data much as a magazine would.

When you first create non-BBS dashboards, don't worry too much about the contents of your first one. When you show it to your important readers, just ask them what other information they would prefer to see, and why. Within a couple of iterations, your dashboards will be giving your readers just the information they want.

Topic Expert
Alan Hart
Title: Consultant
Company: Pacific Shine Group
(Consultant, Pacific Shine Group) |

A financial dashboard should contain meaningful financial key performance indicators, commonly known as financial ratios, and other important information, giving you an indication of the financial performance of the company, or its financial health. Translating the raw data into charts or other graphical presentation will be more effective and convey the message to those who need to see and understand it.

If you employ a planning and budgeting system that is capable of generating accurate and complete balance sheets for each budget period, you can also display forecasted financial ratios and other balance sheet data, by period, on the dashboard. With graphical representation of this data you can visually see how the organization is performing in current periods, vs. its budget in comparable periods, thus having visibility into future periods.

Using the data available to the dashboard I like to see critical information such as how the company performs with regard to its loan covenants, and how close it is to breeching the covenants in actual periods and in future period. Same with the ability to borrow on a line of credit, and how much cash is going to be available in each budget period, etc. Remember that all this data is available from your forecasted balance sheet, and when you apply the basic rules and formulas banks commonly use, you can clearly see where you are and where you are headed.

These are just a few (but extremely important) examples. You can tailor your dashboard to your own needs using available data.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

I created one showing our Commission Income, GP, Payroll expenses, NI and then respective percentages with charts plotted by store. It provides senior leadership a quick glance of each stores financial health.

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