Dashboard Options for Small Businesses
By Paul Johnson
CPA, CGMA, MBA
You may have heard people talking about dashboards as a way to see all of their important business information in one place. Perhaps you dismissed these conversations as solutions which were available and useful for only larger organizations? While dashboards may have gotten their start and initial adoption through use by larger organizations, there are now many options available which small businesses can utilize…and at affordable prices!
What’s A Dashboard?
A dashboard is a type of report which is displayed through a web page and provides you with graphical representations of information you want to track and evaluate (including trends). Typically, a business will identify specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which are relevant to their business and operations. KPIs include metrics such as sales revenue, visitors to your website, time to resolve customer support requests, number of customers served, inventory items sold and in stock, and the list goes on. Obviously, the KPIs that are important to your business will depend significantly on the industry in which you operate.
How A Dashboard Can Help You
Perhaps you already track KPIs for your business in various systems, and maybe you go so far as to aggregate many of these through a tool such as Excel. The cool thing about dashboards is they provide you with dynamic (live updates) information based on the ongoing operations of your business. Better yet, many of the dashboard solutions available today are developed to integrate with popular cloud computing solutions and apps your business may currently use. This means you can easily gain information from your social media feeds, web hosting provider, CRM, accounting solution, and others, all in one place. In the past, aggregating all of this information would have required a significant investment of time to obtain, analyze and present it in a usable format. Now, thanks to solutions such as those discussed below, it is easier than ever to implement a dashboard solution for your business.
Dashboard Solutions Available
As this post is specific to dashboards being utilized for small businesses, I will not discuss solutions intended for larger organizations with significant business intelligence or data analytics needs. Rather, these solutions have proven to be effective and affordable for small businesses based on my research and experience.
All of the dashboards below provide for a relatively easy implementation with the use of drag and drop for placement and setup of the widgets. These solutions provide easy integration to many of the apps your organization may already use as well as providing the ability, albeit with a little more effort and technical knowledge, to integrate other databases. I have noted any significant differences in the dashboard solutions below.
Cyfe (www.cyfe.com) has been our favorite solution to work with to date. They provide a robust tool that is easy to. They offer an integration to QuickBooks which the others don’t. Definitely noteworthy is that they offer a ‘forever free’ version which the others in this post do not (the others do offer free trials).
Geckoboard (www.geckoboard.com) offers similar functionality to that of Cyfe. Frankly, I was unable to find anything which made Geckoboard stand out from the others during my research.
Leftronic (www.leftronic.com) provides a notable integration which I have not seen from the other solutions, Zapier. Zapier is a tool used to integrate many of the apps your business may already use. While I have not personally evaluated the extent to which Leftronic’s integration with Zapier expands the available apps Leftronic can pull data from, I suspect this could significantly increase the number. However, Leftronic does not advertise an integration to Xero or QuickBooks. They do advertise an integration with FreshBooks.
Ducksboard (www.ducksboard.com) does not advertise integrations with any of the common financial apps which I feel is a significant downside.
If you are interested in implementing a dashboard in your organization, I encourage you to take a look at these solutions and give each of them a try. If you don’t have the time to complete a full evaluation of the options available, just let us know and our team would be happy to help you out!