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What Should You Include In Your Management Dashboard Template?

Do you know the three most critical aspects of a management dashboard—and how to begin using it? Take a look.

Joseph, Director of Customer Success at ClearPoint, has over 10 years of experience working with customers to create efficient performance management and strategy execution processes.

Management dashboards are critical for myriad reasons: They help you manage business complexities, provide immediate access to critical information, and assist you in following through with action items.

You may already be well aware of their importance and ready to create one—but completely unsure of where to start. We’ve heard this story a number of times, so we’ve written this article for you.

First, you should understand that your “audience” is the senior-level management at your organization.

If you’re a municipality, this would be your city council or a group of departmental directors. At a for-profit, this would be your C-level leadership. 

And because a management dashboard is meant particularly for management and not for consumption outside of the business unit, you need to be okay with sharing bad news. There’s a tendency in organizations to add spin to certain news as it winds up the management chain, but that is the wrong idea for a solid management dashboard. The truth needs to be out there so the top leadership in your organization can see the problems the company is facing and make the right decisions to improve the outcome.

With that in mind, we’ve outlined a few things you must include in your management dashboard template—and some additional tips and tricks to get you on your feet.

1. Include RAG status indicators and a balance of KPIs.

RAG—or red, amber, green—statuses act as KPI traffic lights: red is an alert, amber (or yellow) signals caution, and green means you’re in the clear. (If you want to read more about how to use these statuses appropriately, see this article.) All in all, RAG statuses are important to include on a management dashboard template so the team knows what to focus in on or what’s important. If a measure is green, they know to skip over it so they can pay more attention to those that are yellow and red.  It is one thing to have fancy charts on the screen, but you need to show your targets and evaluate your performance.

Additionally, it’s important to have a balance of KPIs across all of your perspectives. Why? Because management meetings tend to rely a great deal on financial metrics, but may not take into consideration things happening in the company that could be affecting those financials.

Using a strategic framework like the Balanced Scorecard allows you to incorporate measures from across your organization, effectively solving this problem. You can, for instance, look at your HR metrics to ensure that the right people are in the right positions and at the customer metrics to see if your customers are happy.

If you need some ideas of what is important to include, take a look at these KPI libraries:

2. Include qualitative information for quick interpretation.

Red and yellow statuses aren’t always black and white. (Har har.) 

But really, there’s a big difference between saying, “Our revenue is down for the month of February,” and saying, “Our revenue is down for the month of February because no one wants to buy a jet ski when it’s -10 degrees outside. We don’t see this as being problematic, as we see this trend consistently year after year. As our customers begin thinking about summer in March through May, our sales will go up.”

You can see how providing qualitative information that can be consumed by the executive team easily is important. Simply providing numbers leaves a lot of room for interpretation from the board members, but adding context gives them the complete story.

Tip: Using management dashboard software allows you to quickly reference historical data and trends so you don’t have to scramble for this information when your board members ask for it.

3. Include major projects and initiatives.

First, realize that most people think their project should be prioritized for one reason or another. If you’re the point person working with the management team, you’ll need to be able to filter out the majority of projects and only include the most critical in the management dashboard.

If a project is important enough to be discussed at the managerial level, it likely involves multiple departments and is critical to the business at large. For example, if the HR department is trying to create a new committee, that’s not a whole-of-business initiative. But if they’re opening a new call center—which likely involved several teams and a great deal of oversight—this likely qualifies as something the management team needs to be briefed on.

Finally, you’ll want to determine how often your management team will meet to review the dashboard.

This depends on several factors, including how much information you have available and how often those metrics are useful. Do you need to meet every month, or would it be more useful to meet each quarter?

Regardless of what you choose, you will want to stick to a schedule and have a regular reporting process. Everyone in the organization should know, for example, that the third Tuesday of each month means the executive team sits down to review the management dashboard. This keeps all of the parts moving fluidly and helps keep those who need it on track with deadlines. 

In summary, dashboards are very popular right now, so you might be feeling pressure from your board, industry group, or competitors to create one. But before you do, be sure to think through its purpose, focus, and use, so it’s as effective as possible. 

What Should You Include In Your Management Dashboard Template?