How does Dashboards help Small and midsize business?

How does implementing dashboards help a small or midsize company improve its bottom line?

Here is an interview summary from

What is the immediate benefit of dashboards to small business

  • A company can take a corrective action within two days instead of 30. The Aberdeen Group did a study that found that leaders are substantially better with the decision-making process using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). It was a first time study trying to quantify Business Intelligence and dashboards.


  • Small and midsize businesses need this to compete against big players. Dashboards are a must-have for larger organizations now. It’s a fast-emerging standard. Small and midsize businesses need to have dashboards because the proliferation of a spreadsheet can’t go on forever.

How does a small or midsize business know they need dashboards?

you need dashboards if you have an overloaded spreadsheet [or you] have a dependency on one or two key people who manually update your spreadsheets. It’s very hard to know if you’re making a bad decision or an effective decision. It’s hard to see the symptoms. [You also know you need dashboards] if you see a lot of “spreadsheeting” going on in the organization and there are individual issues with information flow.

IF you run 5-6 reports on a regular basis then you “NEED Dashboard”

How and what should be measured for a small business?

When a company starts the process of bringing in dashboards, it forces them to start to question how they should be measuring their processes. What should they be measuring? Who should be measuring what? What is most important? It usually starts a new way of thinking. It’s rare that a company has all that information. Dashboards trigger the need to address all these issues.

KPIs can be determined by segmenting various applications of dashboards. You need to ask, for example, what are the executives looking for? Once you’re investigating that, it starts jumping out at you. Everyone has their own metrics.

A small or midsize business needs to know where they want to pull information from, their key applications, and make a catalog of that. They also need to proactively start the process of who needs what information.

What is important for the small or midsize business to know about setting up and designing their dashboards?

It all depends on their KPIs and their metrics. For example, if they want to monitor a trend line, they need a line chart. If they’re trying to determine which product is their best or worst seller, they could use a pie chart. A traffic light or speedometer is used for very important items only, because they take up a lot of real estate on the dashboard. Any effective dashboard must allow for “drill down,” when you click on that subject you get more information on it. It’s like a hyperlink that gets you more information.

“Eye candy” can be dangerous. People start designing dashboards with crazy color combinations. Effective dashboards need different design expertise and technology to connect to data source. Eye candy should be the starting point for the interrogation process, [it should lead to] deeper information. Eye candy should lead to something meaningful. It should be a provocative driver to the decision maker to what’s going on in the organization.

What are the costs involved in setting up dashboards?

The larger vendors can give a small or midsize business sticker shock about the price but there are midsize and niche vendors with reasonable pricing.

We will update this post with a list of available dashboard options for small business.

In our opinion, the small businesses using Quickbooks, Peachtree and other small accounting and erp packages should not be left out.

So who is the small business? How do you define a small business?

Are you a small business?