Dashboards are a powerful tool for helping your CFO turn numbers into insight.
Dashboards help take the numbers that accountants and CFOs work with every day and turn them into something more like a visual representation of the data, almost a visual story, that resonates with financial and non-financial people.
I did a fun presentation in Austin, Texas for the CFO/Controllers Conference in September 2018. In preparation for the conference, I recorded the essence of my presentation so I could share it with you online.
Business Intelligence (BI) Software is Changing Fast
In the recording, I show you some super cool changes that are going on in the world of business intelligence (BI) software that’s making it easier than ever before to create some really fun dashboards, to create some really unique, cool dashboards that get people’s attention and help CFOs drive financial improvement.
One thing that I have learned throughout my career, it is that if you really want to make a difference with a CEO or a business owner, sometimes you need to put information in front of them that almost screams out for attention. So, when I put something in front of a CEO or a business owner, especially when I am trying to make a difference, I am trying to communicate an important point, I want them to look at it and say, “Holy cow! This is f***ing awesome, Philip.”
“Now I understand what you have been trying to tell me over the last three months. Now I understand what the numbers are saying and that the trend is going in the wrong direction. Now I understand what I have got to do, and what our management team has to do, in order to achieve the financial results that we are after.”
That’s what I love to hear from an entrepreneur or business owner.
CFOs can Make History… not just record it!
I believe that is important for us as financial professionals and CFOs to recognize that our real calling, our real mission, has to do with making history within an organization, not just recording it.
By making history, I am referring to our ability to kind of go past our traditional role of creating historical financial statements, the safeguarding of assets, some of the are more compliance related responsibilities, and crank it up a level to where we are really playing a more strategic role in the organization. That we are helping to create a bigger and brighter financial future for an organization, in addition to the value that we already provide.
And for me, that makes the role of CFO or advisor a whole lot more fun. It also makes it easier for us to make more money. Because while we want to help drive financial improvement within an organization, we also want to drive financial improvement in our own personal net worth… and our own family net worth.
Here is Part 1.
The Possibilities Are Exciting
As you can see from Part 1 of the video, the dashboard possibilities are exciting… and endless. We saw lots of different ways that we can hook data up and present it to people in a way that is more compelling than just providing them a spreadsheet.
And that’s helpful for financial types as well. It’s really helpful for me to see a mix of numbers and visuals of the numbers and the trends. I love it that way because it helps me find the insights hiding in the numbers.
There are also a lot of non-financial people who can relate to the data more easily when it’s presented to them in a more visual way. It presents all kind of possibilities and it makes it easier to shine a light on the metrics that matter. You have more control over how things are being presented, especially when you are doing something on a phone. It forces you to hone in on what really matters because you want to provide dashboards and financial insights that really matter and can move the needle on financial performance.
In the dashboard examples, you can’t see everything that is going on behind the scenes in terms of the automation of the data loading and cleansing process. But there are some powerful features built in that help you automate your dashboards.
Everything is moving towards more visual insights, towards more natural language processing. Dashboards are a powerful tool that every CFO and business owner should have in their toolkit.
Part 2 starts with the traditional definition of dashboard.
A traditional dashboard brings a lot of information (in a summary format) into one place.
It then makes it easy to click and drill down into more detail. But I want to warn you about some of the challenges you are going to face in creating a traditional dashboard. When you first get started with dashboards, you want to start small. You want to create a dashboard that focuses on one or two metrics that matter to you. Don’t try to create a full-blown dashboard that tries to pull everything about an area of the business into one place.
It cranks the complexity way up and the number of data sources way up. Instead, start with something very focused and use a simple data source that you are familiar with.
Here is Part 2.
Remember, we are talking here about how we create cool dashboards with visuals to drive financial performance because it’s such an important part of the role and responsibility and opportunity of a CFO or finance professional. It’s about helping to make history, not just record it.
For me, doing that is more fun and it helps everyone make more money. We want to create a bright future for companies at the same time that we work on creating a bigger and brighter financial future for ourselves and for our families.
Here is a look at a fun dashboard of profitability by industry.
Check out the free member content area here for a lot more videos and tools to help you drive profitability and cash flow.
Philip Campbell is a CPA, financial consultant, and author of the book A Quick Start Guide to Financial Forecasting: Discover the Secret to Driving Growth, Profitability, and Cash Flow and the book Never Run Out of Cash: The 10 Cash Flow Rules You Can’t Afford to Ignore. He is also the author of a number of online courses including Understanding Your Cash Flow – In Less Than 10 Minutes. His books, articles, blog and online courses provide an easy-to-understand, step-by-step guide for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to create financial health, wealth, and freedom in business.
Philip’s 30 year career includes the acquisition or sale of 33 companies (and counting) and an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.
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