Map to Where?

Remember the days of printing out a map and directions for where you wanted to go?  What about even earlier when we carried Thomas Guides in or car?  Or the unwieldy big ole fold out road maps, and we had to figure out where the heck we were, and kept flipping and turning the map to try to orient ourselves on how to get to where we were going?  A couple weeks I started talking about how I function as a GPS for my clients businesses.  Today I’m going to talk about MAPPING.  Maps are great, aren’t they?  Now we have maps on our phones and in our cars that show us the upcoming cross streets, red light cameras, Starbucks, gas stations, etc, in a dynamic visual form.

The right dashboard report will do the same thing for business.  At an accounting presentation last year, the presenter used newspaper headlines to show how effective dashboard reports work. He highlighted that most people don’t read words – they look for the pictures.  So informative, analytical reports must include graphs and other visual aids to provide the information at just a glance, rather than rows of numbers on a spreadsheet.  It’s easier sometimes to see your sales as a comparison of last year in a graph, rather than just seeing the number is different on a white piece of paper.

We’ve probably all seen the telethons on TV or other fundraisers where they have the giant thermometer of their fundraising goal and how they were measuring up to it.  I’m implementing that for one of my clients this year on their monthly dashboard report for the board.  Meeting their fundraising goal is the most important thing for them to track throughout the year.  Maybe average days to collection on outstanding invoices is important to you.  How would you like to see maybe in a bar graph that you’ve gone from 45 average days to collection to 36?  Or 28?  I personally like to track new clients, and gross sales increase over last year or the same period (month) last year.

What’s important to you?  How can you represent the information in a graphic way?  How do you WANT the data represented so all stakeholders understand the company goals, the metrics, and how well you are succeeding in meeting your goals?