The Importance of Dashboards and Data

The Importance of Dashboards and Data

Most of us don’t even realize we’re doing it, but when we drive, we glance down at our dashboards every minute or so. We want to make sure we haven’t started speeding. We want to know if the engine’s overheating or if we’re running out of gas. It’s a reflexive behavior for most drivers. Now, with business dashboards, you can have the same beneficial experience while running a company.

What Is a Business Dashboard?

A business dashboard is a computer interface, usually built in a web browser, that graphically displays selected business data for easy consumption. Dashboards are invariably customized, and seldom look alike from one business to another. They may contain displays for sales by day or week, order statuses, sales by top 5 customers and so forth. Like a car’s dashboard, they give managers a quick reference on the health of the business.

How Business Dashboards Work

Most business dashboards, like those available in Acumatica and comparable ERP packages, are assembled using “widgets.” A widget is a single data display element. It might show the sales-by-week data in a line graph. Another widget could show the order statuses in a pie chart, and so forth.

Widgets work through database queries and code that work behind the scenes. While you see a colorful, clean-looking pie chart of order statuses, the widget’s code is asking your ERP database, “What is the status of all open orders?” and then building the pie chart in real time. Like the speedometer on a car dashboard, the order status widget will change dynamically as order statuses get updated across the business.

Why Business Dashboards are Important

Dashboards are helpful in business management for many reasons. For one thing, they enable real time visibility into how your business is running. For example, if sales are slowing down, a good dashboard can let you know right away. You won’t have to wait until the end of the month to know you have a problem. Similarly, if your dashboard shows sales forecasts, you can even see a sales slowdown coming and be able to act before it affects the business.

Another reason dashboards are important relates to their ability to connect strategy with real time action. For instance, your competitive strategy might be based on delivering outstanding service. However, if your dashboard shows you that your service department is chronically late in providing service, that’s a big disconnect that could ruin your competitive advantage. The dashboard highlights the problem for you to see. Of course, a text-based report could also inform you of your service problem. A dynamic real time data graph, however, is a better way to flag the service problem. It gets your attention.

Dashboards are part of a bigger picture that includes data analytics and reporting on business operations and financial results. They make it easier to understand data about your business. Data awareness, as presented in dashboard form, helps you make decisions about personnel, investments, vendors and more.

Making dashboards work requires having the right underlying ERP solution in place and then focusing on reporting based on business data. Most ERP solutions have some basic data analytics and dashboarding features available out of the book, but in most cases, it pays to work with an experienced advisor in implementation of meaningful dashboards.

Integrated Business Group can help with analytics and dashboards. To learn more, visit

Microsoft Dynamics GP: 8 of our Favorite Tips and Tricks

Microsoft Dynamics GP: 8 of our Favorite Tips and Tricks

Your Microsoft Dynamics GP software solution is very robust. It’s probably saving you time and helping you create efficiencies in your organization. But what if it could save you even more time? Keep reading for 8 of our favorite Dynamics GP software tips & tricks!

1. How to create reports that you can run over and over with the same filters.

  • Choose a report type (i.e. Historical Aged Trial Balance) and choose “New” at the bottom of the screen
  • In the options field, place a very short description (i.e. Your Name, Date, or “Monthly”)
  • Set the desired parameters for your report
  • Save the report
  • The next time you want to run the report, you can generate the report quickly and modify your dates as needed

2. Easy date creation in any GP window.

  • Clicking (+) or (-) keys on date fields in Dynamics GP increases or decreases the date by one day
  • Keying in the day number in date field will cause Dynamics GP to fill in the current month and year; for example, keying “10” in the date field on 5/3/17 will automatically input the date 5/10/17 in the date box

3. Fix auto-complete errors.

  • The auto-complete function finishes your entries for you
  • This is a great tip until you misspell a word and are stuck with it forever
  • To get rid of an auto-complete error, start typing until the error shows up in auto-complete, then right click and select “Remove” from list

4. Copy/Paste from Excel for easy journal entry imports.

  • Set up an Excel spreadsheet with four columns in this order: Description, Debit, Credit, Amount
  • Fill in the data; you don’t need to fill in the description, but the description column needs to be in your Excel spreadsheet
  • Copy just the data, not the column headers
  • In GP start a GL transaction (Financial/Transactions/Financial/General)
  • Click the “Past” button at the top of the screen and the data will be pasted
  • Fill in the rest of the data for the transaction

5. Correct/Fix journal entries.

  • GP will allow you to back out a journal entry OR back out a journal entry to create a correcting journal entry
    • Go to Financial/Transactions/Financial/General
    • At the top of the screen choose “Correct”
    • Choose if you would like to simply back out a journal entry OR if you would like to back out the journal entry and create a correcting journal entry
    • Choose the year and original journal entry number
  • This is a helpful tip if you simply want to back out a journal entry that has been posted
  • This is also helpful if someone has entered a large journal entry and posted it, but one of the accounts is incorrect; you can then use the back out/create correcting option and the journal entry will be backed out, and a correcting entry will be created that you can then edit and post

6. Speed checkbook inquiry by entering dates first.

  • Enter your date range in the checkbook inquiry search field to avoid waiting for a long history of data
  • This allows you to pull the transactions you need in a shorter amount of time

7. SafePay to help stop check fraud.

  • Easily provide a check list to the bank after every check run
  • The bank will use the information to compare to checks presented for payment to be sure it matches

8. Document attach functionality.

  • In the GP/tools/Setup/Company/Document Attach Setup window, you can mark the check box to allow document attachments
  • Set your default location for attachments, and choose a max file size
  • Indicate if attachments can be deleted and if a password is needed to do so
  • Indicate if attachments should flow from Master Records to related documents; for example, sales contract to flow to customer order, or item picture to flow to order for same
  • Indicate if attachments can be sent in email
  • Access document attachments window by clicking on the paperclip at the top of the screen OR the notes icon on a screen