Changes happen all the time in the business world and the sooner you see them the better. This allows you to take a proactive approach and keep a business ahead of its competition. Operational issues like production time, financial issues like working capital, and sales pipelines are critical to monitor in real-time. A business dashboard can address these needs.
Improve Operational Efficiency
Tracking the operations side, especially for a manufacturer, is essential to running the company efficiently. Management needs to know when production time begins to increase or decrease. Managers can ask questions and head off issues before delivery times are delayed. It is even more important for some suppliers that are penalized for missing delivery dates. Ford and Wal-Mart are both well known for the cash penalties imposed for being just minutes late on a shipment since they use just-in-time inventory management techniques.
Head-off Financial Issues
Financials are too often looked at in a matter of fact way by small and medium sized businesses. There are techniques to proactively managing things like working capital, SG&A, and other marketing costs. Knowing where you stand in the months or years marketing budget in real-time can allow management to make quicker, better informed decisions. If SG&A is ticking up this month, understand why and make adjustments to maintain margins.
Working capital is also critical, especially for small businesses. A real-time understanding of accounts receivable, days outstanding, and cash balances allows management to cut off any issue early before it becomes a real problem.
Maintain Steady Sales
Sales is another part of the business where real-time information can help. One area is in pipeline management which can assure revenues remain steady. It is critical for salesmen to have accounts in various stages of the sales cycle. If a contract is stuck in the negotiation phase, it is important for management to identify this. First management can try to help get a deal that is hanging closed. On the other side, managers may need to exclude the deal that is hung up from forecasts since it’s been there too long. It may just not close.
The same is true for the business to ensure new accounts are replacing the closed sales. If this process is not managed properly, sales will be volatile month-to-month. That makes budgeting, working capital management, and managing labor all difficult. It also likely means the sales team is leaving money on the table.
Customized Dashboards Provide Critical Information
These are just a few areas where real-time information on the business can help. The challenge to seeing changes and identifying emerging issues in a business is one of visibility. Often the monthly reports are not timely enough. One solution is to run those reports more frequently, but that takes time away from other business activities. The optimal solution is to implement a companywide ERP system and integrate that with a CRM system. However, that is very expensive and time consuming and there are other solutions.
A business dashboard, like one built by Research Optimus, provides customized data on the business to address industry and company specific needs. Production time might not be important for your service business, but managing labor hours and logging a consultants time is. The customized dashboard is set up to track what you deem as important to the business. Also, a well-construction dashboard is scalable with both company growth and any increase in the need for information. What starts out as a logistics based platform to track orders can grow to include sales data and financials when the business is ready.
The important thing offered by utilizing a business dashboard is to make sure the management team is never in the dark. With the business environment churning in shorter and shorter cycles, getting the right data quickly can help close sales, cut off problems, and shut down the competition.
– Research Optimus