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I may be dating myself with this reference, but much like Johnny 5, I need input! (For those of you who are confused and staring at your computer screen, do not let the generation gap completely separate us. Do a quick Google search, download the 80s classic “Short Circuit,” and resume reading.) 

I love information: How it can be several things, and one thing all at the same time, and how it can have different meanings to different people in different ways! Data is an infinitely evolving chameleon. If you are a movie buff, information is now beginning to sound a little more like “Inception,” but stay with me.  

Data in the right hands and presented in the right way can move the needle for associations at a variety of levels. Leaders love information, but they don’t always want the nitty, gritty details, they often want the 500-foot, summarized view. 

That’s where dashboards come in, says digital marketing expert and Salesforce MVP Chris Zullo.

“A dashboard, in the simplest sense, is a visual collection of multiple reports,” says Zullo. “It’s pulling or showing a lot of different types of data, some of it’s connected, some of it’s not. It’s a  higher level view of whatever you are trying to monitor.”

Dashboards can be broken up in a variety of ways: by team, department, company and even by leader. 

Here are some great dashboard thought starters, based on leadership roles: 

CEO: This dashboard is all about efficiency, efficiency, efficiency, says Zullo. “What is our average deal cycle?  What takes longer, and what takes shorter? Where are opportunities to improve the process?”

CFO: As you could have guessed, your CFO dashboard is all about debits and credits. “A CFO may look through metrics across all departments,” says Zullo. “Revenues and expenses. How much revenue is coming in compared to costs,” will be the focus of a CFO dashboard, says Zullo. A CFO will look for visualization into a range of organizational questions, he added. “A CFO will be looking for quantifiable metrics around what is driving revenue and where are the costs. What is our expected margin vs. what is reality? Are there opportunities to improve costs?” 

Sales Manager: A sales leader dashboard is all about the three Cs: Conversion, competition, and ca-ching! “A Sales Manager may want to look at the sales team leaders,” says Zullo. “Who is getting through the lead list? Who is closing the most deals? What is the overall pipeline?” Members of a development department are all a part of the same team, but each player wants to be the MVP of the squad. Putting those sales stats into a graph seen organization-wide may feed the competitive hunger within your sales team.  

Building dashboards is not a difficult thing to do, technically speaking, says Zullo, but the process should be managed and implemented by someone within your organization who is in the know and has the know-how.  

“Putting a dashboard together is pretty easy,” says Zullo, but it’s important that the numbers and charts actually mean something.

Sculpting your dashboard will require someone who likes to put together puzzles and has the ability to discern what each of the pieces mean. 

“You need someone with the business knowledge because they will give you the what and the why,” suggests Zullo, like someone who will be able to decipher between what leaders are saying they want in a dashboard compared to what they actually need. “IT may have the oversight of the technology itself, but you need someone who sits somewhere in between the technology and the business that can provide context of what a leader needs and why they need it.” 

A dashboard can be a valuable tool when utilized by the right members of your team. Most CRMs offer dashboard capability as a part of the platform, and some platforms are open to plugins that feature standard and customized dashboards. 

You and your team may be one dashboard graph away from working smarter, not harder. 

Angela Hatem enjoys piña coladas, getting caught in the rain, and obviously yacht rock. When not checking her son's ears for wayward Cheerios, Angela contributes to parents.comlifehacker.comwellandgood.com, and Shondaland.com.

Angela Hatem enjoys piña coladas, getting caught in the rain, and obviously yacht rock. When not checking her son's ears for wayward Cheerios, Angela contributes to parents.comlifehacker.comwellandgood.com, and Shondaland.com.

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