Why Use Interactive Financial Dashboards for Reporting? A Complete Guide

By on

Click to learn more about author Ashok Sharma.

Humans process visual data far more quickly and effectively than other ways of presenting information. The need for visual data, which speaks for thousands of words, has sparked the emergence of interactive dashboards. This tool has become a go-to solution for enabling people in business environments to view and control critical insights, as granularly as needed, combining corporate data and key performance indicators (KPIs) in a central platform.

Visualizing data and single-screen interaction is now a core business necessity. Reliance strictly on spreadsheets has become a thing of the past, as businesses now cultivate the advantages of the interactive dashboard to understand, present, and analyze massive loads of dynamic information, especially as it relates to budgets, projected revenues, and other financial planning considerations.

data-driven business with advanced business intelligence (BI) opens the doorway to success and provides a competitive edge. Dashboards, therefore, are not just limited to improving operational understanding but offer considerably more. Read on to find out how and why interactive financial dashboards are helping organizations win big.

Data Analytics and Decoding Financial Dashboards

Analytics can be understood as the searching, understanding, and communicating of meaningful data patterns. Data analytics also depends upon the simultaneous implementation of operations research, statistics, and computer programming. 

On the other hand, dashboards are data reporting and visualization tools that enable users to get a condensed and clear presentation of the business figures, giving easy accessibility to areas that involve complex records.  

They help you to leverage the power of digital insights and business intelligence, enabling organizations to make more informed decisions for commercial growth and evolution. The difference between a static and an interactive dashboard lies in the depth of user interaction.

Interactive dashboards allow executives to drill down and filter information, giving many dimensions to data to be viewed in detail and from different perspectives. These interactive dashboards add value to your data-driven decision making (DDDM) that involves collecting data as per measurable goals (KPIs), evaluating patterns from insights, and manipulating them for business strategies. As you dive deeper and explore interactive dashboards, you will find that they go beyond the confines of standard “snapshot” reporting.   

Types of Financial Dashboards

Finance is a highly data-driven area of business where it is natural to find numerous data tracking and measuring methods. It then becomes vital to generate a financial dashboard that suits the organization’s particular positions and varied requirements. 

A general dashboard displays the company’s vital information daily in a way that is easy to understand. On the other hand, a financial dashboard is an organizational tool that helps CFOs and other leaders track, match, explore, and present more complex key performance indicators and goals.

That is why financial dashboards come in various types, as one standard dashboard would be too confining, given the fact that finance has many branches and sub-branches. Here’s a glimpse of a few financial dashboards commonly used:

  • Cash Flow Dashboard: Dashboards designed for managing cash offer an outline of your business’s current cash flow and liquidity. Companies utilize this information to quickly understand their interim financial status and gain insights relevant to existing obligations and arrears. 
  • CFO Dashboard: CFOs often require data from different sources, as they need to integrate and track metrics connected to expenses, deals, income, customer satisfaction, and hypothetical plans. 
  • Profit & Loss Dashboard: This yields a typical outline of profits, expenditures, and charges acquired in a given time frame. 
  • Financial Reporting Dashboard: This illustrates how proficiently your business uses capital. It offers an understanding of how the business should be spending its profits. It is one of the most critical dashboards, and businesses need to pay close attention to set parameters to ensure long-lasting success. 

Best Practices for Designing an Intuitive Dashboard

1. Define the audience and objective of the dashboard. The goal of creating a dashboard should be clear cut and focused, which can be achieved by answering the following questions:

  • Who are the finance stakeholders that the dashboard is being made for? 
  • What are the responsibilities of individual stakeholders? 
  • What goals need to be achieved?
  • What KPIs are being measured?  
  • How does each KPI define growth, evolution, and financial development?
  • How can each KPI meet essential milestones and fit the context?

2. Clean and accurate data is key. Once you have an audience and objectives in place, it’s time to sieve data, which is the backbone of any financial dashboard. There are numerous parameters, countless data sources, and the inherent Data Quality management (DQM) strategy before designing a financial dashboard.

3. Pick the right chart for the data. Interactive dashboards are graphical by nature and break the communication barriers of complex key performance indicators, rendering them dynamic visuals. But the secret lies in going for the correct type of chart among many to choose from. According to the need, select these common types of charts: bar chart, pie chart, line chart, tables, gauges, and area charts. 

4. Balance the colors and follow vital design basics. A lot has been said and written about color theory and how it relates to perception, which underlines the need to select an optimized color scheme for your financial dashboard. It is best to go with the rule of thumb and choose two, a maximum of three colors, and then use only them across the board.

5. Offer a balanced viewpoint. Contemporary data dashboard platforms allow for various customizations with ease and don’t require advanced technical knowledge. This is why a balanced perspective for a dashboard would be a genuine mix of past data, predictive analytics, and real-time data that spreads your messages interactively.

6. Use predefined templates. Since customization is one aspect of dashboards, using predefined dashboard templates is another. Going for predefined time-saving styles, layouts, and charts via dashboard templates is another perk of using professional financial dashboard software. It is not only quick but saves a lot in terms of effort and money. 

7. Leverage interactivity. The key to simplifying the dashboard’s analytical processes while making it more user-friendly and responsive to answer questions immediately is interactivity. This way, your company’s financial leadership can explore unlimited possibilities to manipulate data and drill down into each aspect of visualized information.

8. Choose a mobile-optimized dashboard. In this hyper-connected digital age, there is a frequent need to access information around the clock, across many devices. Having mobile-optimized technology means you have the freedom to connect, campaign, analyze, and produce data and analytics wherever you are, using it to its full potential.

9. Seek feedback and repeat. Upscaling dashboards and developing them for the intended purpose is only possible if you have critical feedback.

The Tactical Edge – What Makes Interactive Financial Dashboards Best?

1. Data-based decision making: Businesses today have to operate at lightning speed, where an essential part of the process lies in making pivotal decisions that impact revenues and expenditures every day. The visual nature of a financial dashboard empowers businesses to dissect and analyze data faster to make intelligent decisions. 

2. User-friendly: Dashboards are intended to restructure a large volume of data. A well-designed dashboard boosts the speed and quality of decision-making in the business organization. Financial dashboards help in getting detailed information about KPIs. They also identify shared variables from the data to draw connections. They help in achieving better transparency, efficiency, and management of compliance and security.

3. Data visualization: Dashboards offer a gateway to intelligent data analysis and make it easily accessible. Representing data in dashboards supports visualization and lets team members analyze data and generate strategic understanding. Analysis and processing of unrefined data is a task that requires knowledge and experience. By utilizing dashboards for displaying information graphically, you allow for better understanding and catching opportunities. Dashboards create an interface between valuable data and employees, offering scope for improving operational performance.

4. Improved agility for businesses: The ability to track real-time data allows businesses to make cost-efficient and productive strategies. It also helps in quick decision making, and therefore you can quickly recognize difficulties and opportunities allowing planning in time. Financial dashboards come with a rich data visualization library with which users can curate a financial dashboard suiting their needs. 

5. Liability and alignment: Dashboards make sure every member on your team remains answerable. It can be beneficial for your business as you enhance the visibility into operations; this way, you can increase the level of performance within the whole organization. With new competition every day, you need to come up with good strategies. Create dashboards that focus on new KPIs to coach employees and inspire them to implement new processes and more extensive organizational transformation.

6. Reporting and drill-downs: Dashboards display your KPIs in the form of printed outputs drawn from the primary dataset, which considerably decreases the time spent on reporting. Earlier organizations wasted a lot of time and resources on gathering and processing data into meaningful information. Mainly, this process required management and exporting data in spreadsheets to perform analysis. 

That is why managers and analysts value dashboards for performing most of this manual structuring and processing task for you. There are special drill-down functions that allow for getting detailed analysis within a few clicks. You can use this feature to find reasons behind corrective actions required for a particular case. Now you can examine complete details and insights of a specific case and view advanced prints of operations without exiting the dashboard.

7. Emphasis on efficiency: Financial dashboards are handy in highlighting weak spots like employee productivity, expenditure vs. revenue, underachieving assets, etc. It dives deep into facts to find the root cause behind loopholes and offers a remedial way out.

8. Adaptability and flexibility: Being able to adapt to an organization’s requirements is one of the main characteristics of a good dashboard. The KPIs that you target can alter with the developing business. Traditional methods of improvising businesses are not able to show relevance for your organization. 

Flexible dashboards that be modified without any hassle of reprogramming are preferred more. Moreover, if they can integrate with different systems and keep room for future updating, it is like icing on the cake for businesses.

Go for Interactive Dashboards and Move Beyond Standard Reporting

Previously, businesses put more emphasis on storing financial data rather than thoroughly analyzing it. But things have changed now. With self-service business intelligence (BI) and reporting tools becoming more prevalent, financial specialists use interactive dashboards to understand data and utilize it better. 

Now, they can stay ahead in this cutthroat competitive time, where data is gold and said to be the next oil. Having the correct interpretation of data can make or break the game, often impacting pivotal decisions and has to be 100% accurate. 

Therefore, organizations should look for tools that help generate intuitive reports instantaneously without losing time, speed, and accuracy. Embracing interactive dashboards that can be configured without any problem and require optimum operational intelligence with long-term benefits is the key. Adapt to interactive dashboards and empower your business to make futuristic strides.

Leave a Reply