Storytelling with Data: Creating Impactful Dashboards
Analysts build so many reports and dashboards that it gradually becomes impossible for the management team to focus on the primary key performance indicators – or KPIs. Together, they should choose the KPIs that they want to track on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Let’s say the business analyst needs to deliver a weekly dashboard to monitor sales activities. How should they present this dashboard so it will bring actionable insights to the management team?
The management team should be able to get the information they are looking for. Thus, visualization is essential and business analysts should pick the right chart for each KPIs. Waterfalls, columns, bars, combos, funnel, there are plenty possibilities. Typically, the funnel or waterfall charts fits well the pipeline.
Moreover, your dashboard should tell a story, so it’s easier to understand the relationships between the different KPIs. For instance, sales activities such as calls, emails, and meetings will explain the “New deals” part of the pipeline waterfall. You could present something like this and read it from left to right, top to bottom. Conversations generated meetings; meetings generated new opportunities, new opportunities formed a pipeline and pipeline made bookings.
Plus, you always should analyze your dashboard with few bullet points so the management team can read your analysis if they don’t have time to dig in. Let’s say you’re one week before the quarter’s end and the sales director will miss his quota of about 100k€. He’s asking for your advice. By consistently looking at those dashboards, you’ll know that sales reps didn’t pull in much as you see 312k€ pulled in vs. approx. 600k€ per month for the last 12 months. As they’re having a lousy month and their commission plan is monthly based, you know that they pushed out more than usual so they can crush target next month. As the data shows that they could pull in some deals, you can suggest an incentive for the week.
Lastly, challenge sales leaders on your metrics and ask for their input. You’ll learn from them, and your dashboards will be even more insightful. For example, the sales director will know better than anybody which deals are at risk and which ones are more likely to close. He could consider that any opportunity pushed out more than 3 times has almost no chance to close. Sales Operations can verify this with data and add a table with “at risk deals” if it’s relevant.