The Importance of Data Dashboards

karen JessBy: Karen Jess

A vehicle dashboard provides vital information: speed, gas left in the tank, engine temperature, etc. This information is important to the driver of the vehicle as nobody wants to be stuck on the side of the road with an empty gas tank.

Many financial software companies have added data dashboards to their products. A data dashboard is a tool for visualizing and communicating important business data to stakeholders and employees. Dashboards provide measures to help an organization make better decisions. Dashboards can typically be customized to meet the needs of the various users of your nonprofit. This is extremely useful since the wants and needs of the stakeholders vary. Take payroll information as an example. Employees will likely be interested in their year-to-date information relating to wages, benefits and payroll elections. The human resource department may want a compliance dashboard as well as the ability to see detailed data relating to salary rates, hours worked, benefit elections, etc. Management may want to see budget-to-actual payroll expenses for the entire organization while finance may want the same information summarized by department. The auditors may want to see budget-to-actual payroll reports with the ability to drill down to a specific payroll transaction. Having this information available to the various stakeholders will save time and money. Imagine creating a dashboard specifically for your auditors that provides them access to information they need during their audit process. Assuming the dashboard provides the ability to drill down to a detailed level, you may be able to eliminate the need to pull invoices or other source documents they typically request. An efficient process typically translates to cost savings.

The National Council of Nonprofits provides some basic thoughts about dashboards with several links to other articles about this topic can be viewed here.

Don’t let your nonprofit be stuck on the side of the road because you didn’t have important information available. Data dashboards can provide the information you need to ensure you don’t run out of gas (or cash).

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