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Driving your SME with a dashboard

Modern car instrument dashboard panel in night time

Your car has a dashboard and so should your SME. Driving a car without a dashboard is inconceivable and running an SME without one increases the risks of crashes. A business dashboard is an information management tool that can be used to track KPIs, metrics, and other key data points relevant to your business, individual departments and specific processes. Using data visualizations, dashboards can simplify complex data sets to provide users with at a glance awareness of current business performance. They can also be useful as warning signs of things that are going wrong in your SME.

Designing an SME dashboard

A car dashboard is right under your nose and is designed by the car manufacturer when you buy your car. If you are an SME owner without a dashboard at present, here are a few things to keep in mind that will help to make a dashboard easy to understand and use:

  • Keep it clean and uncluttered by carefully choosing only the most relevant information. You want to get maximum insight at a glance
  • You don’t have to use a lot of detail on the tiles themselves. On good dashboards you can click on a tile to go to the relevant report and see further details
  • If the dashboard will be accessed on a big monitor in a conference room, you can add more content. If it’s going to be accessed mostly on tablets or smartphones, keep it light
  • Highlight important data by increasing the size of the tiles
  • Don’t be afraid to put a single metric on a tile if it’s really important such as sales to date or customer satisfaction

What you need on your SME dashboard

A car dashboard has indicators for speed, fuel, lights and other fundamentals as well as warning alerts. When you have designed your SME dashboard you then need to pick your top KPIs that are going to be displayed on it.

Here is a list of KPIs for your SME dashboard:
* Financial Indicators – 6-10 KPIs
* Business Performance Indicators – 4-7 KPIs
* Business Generation Indicators – 4-7 KPIs
* Employer/ee Based Indicators – 3-4 KPIs
* Risk Indicators – 1-2 KPIs

This list can be tailored to your own SME business depending on current business status and needs. These are only indicators and managers and other users can use this information to highlight where to investigate further and get more information. Here are suggested KPIs for various aspects of your SME business:

Financial Indicators
  • Profitability – Profit Margin
  • Gearing – Debt to Equity Ratio
  • Debtors – Debtors
  • Fixed Costs – Fixed Cost Ratio
  • Variable Costs – Gross Margin
  • Costs per employee – rent, stationery, travel, phone etc.
Business Performance Indicators
  • Response Rates – Inquiries to customer resolution
  • ROI
  • Accuracy of reporting – Tax office reports, Payroll runs, etc
  • Number of Compliance Breeches
Business Generation Indicators
  • Revenue
    • breakdown by Customer
    • breakdown by Service/Product type
    • sources – lead generation information
  • Client and Referral channels – social media, website, forums etc. [/one_second]
Employer/ee Indicators
  • Employer Investment (ROI)
  • Training Payback Period – total training (or education) cost divided by total monthly benefits
  • Profit per employee
External Indicators
  • Risk Levels – Reducing frequency and impact – consider, market, economic, geographic and demographic risks
  • Resource availability – what scarcity is impacting inputs into your process

Set the KPIs to suit your business needs

Once you have decided on the relevant KPIs for your SME business that need to be included on your new dashboard, then build the data collection and reporting of these top KPIs into your weekly reporting routine. You can always chop and change your KPIs every few months or as needed depending on where your SME is now and how it is evolving, but start by setting up, and then stabilising, a few KPIs at a time. When deciding which KPIs are the most important make your choice based on your current business strategy for profitable growth offset with reducing risks to the business.

SME dashboards coming to SE Asia

Maybank has stepped up its digital transformation drive in Malaysia with a cloud-delivered payment solutions service. How will this help SMEs in a tough business environment?  SMEs can now access online accounts via smart phone or mobile devices anywhere, and at any time. With this GST-compliant subscription-based cloud accounting, customers do not need to purchase costly accounting software, or worry about software installations, updates and training, manage data security and data loss as well as prepare for disaster recovery, thus giving them more time to focus on their business. “This greatly improves efficiency in businesses’ payment processes and drives changes in payment procedures, in line with Bank Negara’s Financial Sector blueprint,” said a Maybank Spokesperson. It also includes a free 90-day trial for its business customers. Coming soon is an Interactive Dashboard with graphs and drill down, point-of-sales (POS), inventory management, eCommerce and invoicing to meet customers’ needs. “The successful movement of money is at the heart of every well-managed business,” added the Spokesperson continuing, “By tapping on technology to integrate key accounting functions of business processes and systems, organisations can reduce manual administration and free up time for more value-add activities. Entrepreneurs and their businesses can achieve higher levels of automation, efficiency and productivity, as well as gain better visibility into business performance by automating these key functions.”

Don’t think about driving your car, your SME or anything else without a dashboard. Global institutions are making moves to introduce easy-to-use, comprehensive dashboards for their SME clients. If you are an SME owner looking to drive your business forward you should get market savvy and align your SME business with current developments and an SME dashboard will help you do this with less time, stress and cost.

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Grant Morgan
Grant Morgan
Grant is a highly experienced and motivational sales leader with a wealth of experience within fintech and the wider tech market space from companies such as Bottomline Technologies, Ideal Hardware plc, and Panasonic. Having worked with customers from micro SME to large multinational through a variety of sales channels, Grant has extensive knowledge of supplying business’s with financial, payment and collection systems, working with partners such as HSBC, J P Morgan Chase, Barclays, and Worldpay.

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