Building the ultimate Sales Dashboard

sales dashboard

We all know that data is the key to actionable decision making. In a fast-paced job like sales, you are surrounded by it. From gathering customer data to monitoring sales status to tracking goals, salespeople are collecting and using data at every possible minute.

The challenge with having all of this data at your fingertips is organizing it. Without the right strategy and business intelligence tool in place, you are not able to derive meaningful insights from the data you work so hard to accumulate. This is where sales dashboards have proven to be highly effective.

In sales, dashboards play a huge role in managing day-to-day operations, measuring performance, and adapting quickly to changing conditions. With a well-organized dashboard designed to meet a specific goal, a sales manager can take a glance at key metrics on a single screen and make speedy decisions based on facts.

If you’re looking for a better way to track your sales team’s progress and meet your revenue targets faster this year, Jet Global can help. Business Intelligence (BI) is our specialty, and we have had a lot of experience working with top-performing sales organizations and ambitious teams looking to get more value from their data.

To set you up for success in analytics, we have created a quick guide on how to create the ultimate sales dashboard. Keep reading for more insight on the sales metrics you should be tracking and the dashboards you should be using.

Pinpoint the purpose of your sales dashboard

It may seem a little bit simple but the first step to building a great sales dashboard is to identify who will be using this dashboard, how they will be using this dashboard, and what information they want to see. A sales rep might want a graphical dashboard that they can check daily to help meet their weekly goals. A sales manager might be after a more detailed dashboard to check top-performing sales reps every week. On the other hand, a sales VP might need just a simplified dashboard to show high-level revenue and sales every month.

Generic dashboards are not as effective as specific, tailor-made dashboards so make sure you are clear on the purpose behind your sales dashboard before diving in.

Sales metrics you should be tracking

A day in the life of a top salesperson orbit around meeting sales targets and quotas. From tracking phone calls to nurturing prospects to closing deals, sales teams are in a constant state of flux. Before building your sales dashboard, you need to identify your top goals and narrow down what KPIs and metrics are most important in reaching those goals.

Sales goals depend on who you are and what you do. A sales manager is going to have different goals from an inside sales rep. A go-getting sales manager might set a goal of increasing sales by 5% this quarter, and therefore needs to monitor both individual and team performance to track progress and identify their top performers. An inside sales rep’s goal is to reach a target of 200 cold calls per month, so they are focused on tracking sales activities and completing tasks: two very different goals, two very different dashboards.

A golden set of sales metrics and KPIs doesn’t really exist, as measurements differ from department to department. The general rule of thumb when choosing your KPIs and metrics is to tie back to your goal. If it gives you useful information and identifies areas for improvement, you should track it.

According to an informative article by HubSpot, sales metrics typically fall into one or more of these categories:

  • Activity Sales Metrics (Ex. # of calls made, # of meetings scheduled)
  • Pipeline Sales Metrics (Ex. Average length of the sales cycle, total closed opportunities by month/quarter)
  • Lead Generation Metrics (Ex. Average lead response time, % of qualified leads)
  • Primary Conversion Metrics (Ex. % of opportunities closed/won)
  • Chanel Sales Metrics (Ex. Revenue by the partner, Average deal size by partner)
  • Sales Productivity Metrics (Ex. % of time spent on selling activities or creating content)
  • Sales Process, Tools, and Training Adoption Metrics (Ex. Average  cost of training by salesperson)

The bottom line is that the ultimate sales dashboards need to be designed for a specific person with specific goals. A dashboard that tries to include all of these sales metrics is not going to be effective or particularly useful to anyone. It needs to be relevant, and easy to adjust.

Build your sales dashboard with business intelligence software

Once you have your goal and metrics identified, you’re ready to start building your sales dashboard. You may have these capabilities built into your CRM or ERP solution, but most of the time, they are not the most user-friendly tools. There are a ton of separate dashboard solutions out there to choose from, but we usually recommend you stick with a business intelligence solution that integrates with your current software, a for a few reasons in particular:

  1. BI software is designed for self-service reporting and analytics – that means you shouldn’t need a developer every time you want to build or alter a dashboard.
  2. Data consolidation will be automated, ensuring real-time information from multiple data sources. This is super important.
  3. BI software comes with lots of great pre-built dashboards and chart options to choose from.
  4. BI software gives you the ability to drill down into key information and apply calculations within the tool itself.

Once you have your BI solution implemented, you will be able to automatically pull any data into your dashboard and use it for decision making. You can create dashboards and reports to track sales performance, identify sales opportunities, create sales forecasts, analyze your pipeline, and more.

If you decide against a BI solution or separate solution that syncs with your ERP system, this will be a more manual and time-consuming process. This option means you have to build reports and dashboards from scratch and constantly update them, but there are Excel templates out there for that.

Create, visualize, and share your sales data

The purpose of a dashboard is to be able to make decisions at a glance. That’s why the most useful sales dashboards are easy-to-read and understand. Bi software includes a wide range of templates to choose from and charts to visualize your data. Pie charts, bar charts, line charts – any kind of chart you can think of – will help you customize the tiles on your dashboard to your personal preferences. That being said, you don’t want to overwhelm your user with too many fancy charts and clutter.

There are a few design conventions to keep in mind before diving into your dashboard. The first is simplicity and usability. Color, images, buttons, fonts, charts, numbers – every element of a dashboard should look and feel consistent with the user, so there is no confusion or issues with navigation. Another thing to keep in mind is that most of us read from left to right. You want these dashboards to lead to quick interpretation and fast responses, so putting the most pertinent visuals on the left will help. Just remember that everyone is different, so it’s a good idea to experiment a bit with these options to find what colors and charts work best for you and your team.

The other thing to keep in mind when building your dashboards is how you will access and share them. If you’re creating a sales leaderboard dashboard, for example, you want every member of the team to be able to view this dashboard from anywhere with an internet connection, easily.

www.allonline365.com 

Resource Credit | Jet Global 

Excel for inventory management is risky

inventory management

Almost every small business starting out relies on Microsoft Excel to manage separate business functions. It’s an excellent business tool that is free that everyone already knows how to use, so why not use it for inventory management?

When it comes to inventory management, spreadsheets can be used for everything from manually updating when shipments arrive and are shipped out, to determining what items are in stock, when to replenish, and how much to order. Excel has plenty of valuable features capable of handling a start-up business’ inventory, as long as you put the time and energy into developing an effective governance strategy and template.

While it’s not uncommon to start with Excel for inventory management, it is important to remember that these templates are designed for a small number of products and limited variants. Excel works best when used appropriately and can negatively impact a business if relied on too much in situations where other tools would work better.

Using Excel as a low-cost inventory management solution

Inventory management templates are effective when setting up your inventory. If you have ever done a desperate Google search looking for a free inventory spreadsheet template, you know that there are a ton of options from which to choose. A basic template should include key columns like product numbers, product names, item descriptions, item price, cost or value, item stock, quantity to reorder, quantity sold, time to reorder, etc. Ultimately, you create your template based on your inventory management needs.

Unfortunately, the more columns you have, the more difficult it is to keep up with everything. And this brings us to some of the major risks (and stress) that come with keeping track of your supply and demand with Excel.

Here are five risks of using Excel for inventory management:

1. Making Mistakes

It is easy to make mistakes in Excel, but hard to find errors on sheets of numbers and data. To avoid them, you will need to have strict management, proper organization, and regular auditing practices in place for your inventory management spreadsheets. This can be a time-consuming and mind-numbing process, but it’s really only the way to stay on top of human error.

2. Out-of-Date Information

Excel is not a real-time inventory management solution, so you will never be able to see the real inventory value at that moment. When using Excel for inventory management, it’s important to make sure that it is updated as often as possible to avoid issues like overselling a product that you cannot then backorder.

3. Inaccurate Reporting 

One small mistake in a formula or miscalculation can have a huge impact on the rest of your numbers across multiple worksheets. You can use a few simple Excel formulas to calculate information automatically for total sales and total profit, but when it comes time to make recommendations based on that data, you need to be constantly checking and rechecking your calculations for accuracy.

4. Data Consolidation

One of the biggest issues people have with Excel is not being able to analyze historical data. It might not be a big deal in your first year of business, but as you grow and expand, the data you collect from multiple sources is gold. With it, you can track your sales based on the period for better inventory optimization in the future, etc. It’s certainly possible to manually consolidate your data, but it’s time-consuming and laborious – and there are easier ways.

5. Data Loss

Even though Microsoft has made huge improvements to Excel in the cloud, users are still infamous for saving spreadsheets to their desktop and forgetting to save it to the cloud or OneDrive. While this can be avoided with a strict set of rules and backups in place, it still causes a lot of complication and uncertainty to those involved in planning management.

Reap the benefits of a dedicated inventory management solution

The bottom line is that Excel does not work with medium to large inventory volumes.  Hundreds of columns are too complex, time-consuming, and difficult to keep up-to-date manually. If you have a growing inventory of products or want to handle multiple location tracking in real-time, a dedicated ERP system with inventory management capabilities will be necessary to save time and money in the long run.

We know that it’s hard to make informed decisions and grow your business without the right technology in place. Jet Global specializes in providing reporting, analytics, and budgeting solutions for Dynamics 365 Business Central ERP customers. With Dynamics 3365 Business Central, you get a dedicated inventory management system that grows with you, managing your sales, inventory management, accounting, and operational processes in one platform. With Jet Global, you get fast flexible dashboards and financial reports in Excel online. No more manual data consolidation. No more out-of-date information. No more risk.

Using Excel will allow you to cut costs at first, but eventually will result in too many inefficiencies and chaos. A better ERP and reporting solution will eliminate all of the risks included above and give you the tools you need to grow and be successful. For more information on Jet Global and the benefits of their solutions and how they integrate with Dynamics 365 Business Central, contact us on  info@allonline365.com or +27 (21) 205 3650.

www.allonline365.com 

Resource Credit | Jet Global 

How to build useful KPI Dashboards

kpi dashboards

How to build useful KPI Dashboards for Microsoft Dynamics

When you have precise data in an easily-digestible format, you can make actionable decisions that impact business performance. This is especially critical when you are using data from multiple sources like ERP, CRM, warehousing, or manufacturing systems. We are going to show you that through a set of tools, technologies, best practices, analytics, and business intelligence can help you start tracking performance measures and make better sense of your data – immediately.

What performance measures should I track?

It’s impossible to make a qualified decision about the direction of your business without complete visibility into your data. Many companies have a basic understanding of what reports they need to see every month from a financial and operations perspective, but there are other layers of performance measures that should be assessed and analyzed to stay on target to reach your operational business goals.

There are two types of performance measures that form the base of every analytics program: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Metrics. Although you might have heard people use the terms “KPI” and “Metric” interchangeably, they are different quantifiable measurements that can impact how you set your overall strategy.

Metrics tracks the status of a specific business process. They are tactical, showing the exact performance of your business. Metrics, like IT, spend by business unit or average new deal size, are monitored regularly.

KPIs measure performance towards achieving your strategic goals or objectives. The keyword here is strategic, as KPIs show the big picture of your operations. KPIs, such as net profit margin or cost of goods sold are measured on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.

When you bring both measurements together, you can start to evaluate your progress towards achieving a business goal. For example, a universal KPI used by most companies is Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). CLV can be broken down by individual customers, regions, products or salespeople and used to make decisions about sales, marketing, product development, and customer support. Metrics that go into CLV include customer churn rate, average customer lifetime value, average gross margin, etc.

Understanding what metrics support your KPIs will help you quickly respond to fluctuations and get you closer to achieving your monthly, quarterly, and yearly business goals faster – as long as you have the right systems in place. Managing KPIs and metrics with Excel is time-consuming and frankly not going to get you anywhere. This leads us to another key distinction between KPIs and metrics: the tools you need to build and manage them effectively. 

How to start tracking your KPIs and Metrics

There are a few steps required to become a performance-driven culture fueled by data and insight. We are going to walk you through how to identify, create, and visualize your KPIs and metrics in a dashboard.

Identify the right KPIs for your business

Before jumping into dashboard development, you need to set measurable, quantifiable business goals. Your business or department goals are the foundation of which you will base your performance metrics on and report against. Once you have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve this quarter or year, you can start to identify what corresponding KPIs and metrics will help you meet those objectives.

One of the biggest challenges with developing goals and KPIs is making them relatable and realistic. That’s why it’s important to include your employees and managers in these bigger discussions. When employees are engaged and understand how their work relates to the company’s overarching goals, they will be more committed to using and optimizing analytics.

To get started, we recommend you keep it simple. Choose two or three priority goals and identify no more than three KPIs per goal. The goals you choose can help guide your organization’s strategic planning, performance measurement, or resource allocation – as long as the KPIs are actionable and show how you plan to get there.

Here are a couple of examples: 

kpi dashboards

Start planning KPI Dashboards

Now that you have established your goals for the year and the corresponding KPIs to track, you can start planning out your dashboards. KPI dashboards are used to provide a quick snapshot of how you are performing and progressing towards your goals. With data visualizations, you can start to make comparisons, see trends over time, and see relationships between functional areas of your company.

KPI dashboards can be divided into three categories:

  1. Strategic Dashboards
    • Track the health of a company and overall business performance.
    • Used by executives and managers to identify potential issues or opportunities.
    • This strategic financial analysis provides an easy way to visualize the overall financial position and performance of an organization.

kpi dashboards

2. Operational Dashboard

    • Monitors business processes or outcomes that frequently change.
    • Data updates regularly and often viewed by a manager multiple times a day to observe progress towards a goal.
    • This report monitors the sales team’s operation and their performance, broken down by total sales, by profit, and by profit %.
    • Slicers can be used to filter on regions and territories. Sales managers would likely look at this multiple times a day.

kpi dashboards

3. Analytical Dashboard

    • Used to process and analyze large volumes of data to identify trends and predict outcomes.
    • Typically developed and designed by business analysts.
    • This dashboard analyzes the average cost, price gross profit, and sales for the items and types of items and organization sells.
    • Calculate the performance of offerings over long periods of time, from hundreds of thousands of transactions, to see trends.
    • This is effective for understanding the levers that impact profitability, vendor selection, billings, and more.

Examining individual and cross-organizational KPIs and metrics is much easier with a well-designed KPI dashboard. When you think about it, every dashboard is unique because it has to fit a specific need of an employee or role and match the culture of the organization. In order to make your dashboards effective, they need to be:

  • Easy to read and understand
  • Easy to update
  • Have the ability to drill down into information
  • Be visually appealing and allow for decisions to be made at a glance

It will also help if your KPI dashboards are customized to fit a specific role. A sales manager doesn’ need to see inventory data to evaluate how their sales team is performing do they? Take a look at two dashboards below, one is designed for Sales and the other is designed for Finance.

Whether you are looking at sales progress goals, it’s all about understanding your key fields and what information you need to capture in order to do your job best.

Build your KPI Dashboards with a Business Intelligence Solution

Once you have your KPIs and metrics defined for your business and a clear understanding of how to design your specific dashboards, a business intelligence (BI) solution can help do the heavy lifting for you.

Bi solutions work by gathering the most up-to-date information across your entire operations into one central location and transforming it into an easy-to-digest format that helps drive instant decision-making and process adjustments. Through intuitive, streamlined reporting and simple dashboards, BI can be used by everyone from your admin team to your executive team – giving you the tools you need to improve budgeting, support forecasting, and make better financial decisions.

To put the right information into the right hands, you can easily design and create a KPI dashboard by selecting queries and applying calculations within the BI tool itself. Most BI solutions come with a variety of pre-built dashboards and chart options. In Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions, KPIs can be set up through Power BI or another third-party BI tool that uses a live connection to the data source, like Jet Reports.

No matter what BI solution you choose to implement, managers and staff should be able to get the answers to their questions in real-time and take action based on accurate data.

10 Best practices to building effective KPI Dashboards

  1. Clearly define your business goals and objectives
  2. Work with your entire team to align operational goals with KPIs and metrics
  3. Practice by choosing your priority goals and defining 3 KPIs that will help measure your progress
  4. Layout your dashboards by role or department to narrow down KPIs and get buy-in from other team members
  5. Use pre-built dashboards to help you get started designing your KPI dashboards
  6. Get creative with data visualizations – experiment with pie charts, pivot tables, etc.
  7. Take a step back and make sure your KPI dashboards align with your business goals, are easy to read, and are actionable
  8. Test your dashboards to make sure they are pulling accurate, up-to-date information from all your data sources (Make sure your BI solution has this capability)
  9. Assign control to a manager to build, update, and govern specific dashboards
  10. Measure progress regularly. Are these dashboards working or can we make them easier to read? Your KPIs should evolve as your business grows and changes

Simplify KPI Dashboard design with Jet Analytics

Jet Analytics is a complete business intelligence solution built specifically for Dynamics 365 Business Central. it includes a pre-built data warehouse, OLAP cubes, and dashboards, so you can begin to use it (and see the value) within a couple of hours.

In addition, Jet Analytics has a complete real-time reporting environment built-in, so you can consolidate your tasks into a single, proven platform used by over 219,150 Dynamics users. This also gives you the unique advantage of being able to report from either the live production database or the optimized data warehouse environment, giving you another dimension of flexibility in reporting while still enjoying the full power of complete analytics, dashboards, and BI.

If you would like to learn more about what Jet Global has to offer, please contact allonline365 on  info@allonline365.com or  +27 (21) 205 3650.

www.allonline365.com

Resource Credit | Jet Global

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