How to create a great company dashboard

“How to write…” video series

2 min read

Consuming data can be like drinking water from a hosepipe — plentiful, but hard to swallow. The problem is amplified when you’re creating a company or CEO dashboard; you’ll have an ocean of data to choose from, but what should make the cut? We suggest that you start with the questions that really matter, and only then select the KPIs or metrics. Read on to discover the questions that you can use to create a great company dashboard.

The following is a transcript of the video.

The 4 simple (but powerful) questions your business dashboard should answer

A company dashboard has the power to align everyone on what matters most, from the chairman of your board to colleagues on the front line. But most dashboards fail to capture what matters. Instead, they tend to focus on short-term financial and operational metrics. To guard against that, here are four questions to help you tease out a more holistic story of performance told with data and sitting on a single page.

1. Are we delivering our ambition?

Here, we’re looking for 2 to 5 metrics that evidence your commercial ambition and your company's higher purpose. Together, these metrics define the reason why you’re in business. Include your principal measure of commercial value, for example, profit or return on capital, then your purpose. What matters to your stakeholders — for example, your customers? How do you measure the impact you promise to them?

2. Is our strategy on track to deliver long-term goals?

This is about strategy execution, which you can demonstrate by reporting on the progress of key programmes and initiatives. And remember: less is more.

Are they on time, on budget, and delivering the benefits that you intended? Then look externally; what could knock your results or strategy off-track? These are typically economic market trends and, increasingly, societal and political forces.

3. Are the in-year drivers of performance healthy?

These indicators give you assurance that you’re delivering short-term results. They’re also the levers that management can pull to change the course of your ambition. And they typically straddle product, customer, operations, and innovation; they include your cash position as well as sources of funding to ensure that you can fund that ambition.

4. Are we working in the right way?

So, you may be smashing your ambition, your strategy projects are on track, and your short-term KPIs are all healthy. But does this come at a price? Are corners being cut? Are you harming your long-term reputation?

So consider these two sub-points:

  1. What could threaten your license to operate? Regulatory, societal, or climate concerns are examples of drivers that support your license to operate.
  2. And what does it mean to do business in the right way? Topics such as risk, governance, and culture can be covered here.

And once you’ve pondered these questions, you’ll be able to select metrics that answer them. As you do this, remember two things: consider metrics that have predictive power, and some that are externally reported. This balance ensures that your dashboard won’t be backward-looking or insular.

Questions are key to deciding what should be on your dashboard. They’re the islands of insight in your ocean of data. So, always start there.

If you found this useful, watch out for other videos in this series and take a look at Lucia, our management reporting platform that helps you write brilliantly clever reports that spur your business to action.

  Lucia   Write great reports, every time    A thinking and writing platform that helps you to write brilliantly clever and  beautiful reports that surface breakthrough insights and spur your business to  action. Find out more

Or see more of this series

How to write a great…

What you need to know, when you need to know it

Register for our newsletter to get a monthly compilation of our latest chair interviews, governance research, and upcoming webinars and events, along with weekly round-ups of the top news that matter to board members.