Real Time Data and Dashboards for Small Business

     

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Real-Time Data and Dashboards - Obvious Value

Any business owner can see the value of adding real-time data, dashboards, monitors, and more to their business. Here at Be Structured, we use real-time data to monitor new ticket creation and close rates for the day, billable hours, severity of open tickets, employee metrics/goals, customers servers, backups, Internet connections, and more.

To put our data to use and see our metrics on display, we turn to BrightGauge Software. Check out BrightGauge's feature on how we use dashboards to track our tickets and goals in real-time. We have four large displays in our office surrounding our team. No matter where you are in the office, you'll be able to gain transparency into the latest metrics. While it might sound difficult, most businesses can get access to their data and present it without too much effort.

We use BrightGauge to track and manage much of this data. BrightGauge offers the ability to tie in many different data sources. You can see their integrations here. With the ability to pull in raw data from DropBox, SQL, and most accounting systems, many businesses can instantly get value from seeing their data in action. That being said, your specific CRM/ERP might have integrations with other providers, and research is worth doing.

What data should we look at?

This is the most important question when selecting a system and building out your dashboard and real-time data system. First, identify your key business metrics, especially ones that could be tracked in real time that might pose a problem and be able to to be resolved quickly. Slower moving data points can also be tracked, but you might consider using your system to track that data and send out daily, weekly, or monthly reports automating some processes you may do manually today. Television real-estate should be reserved for the most pressing real-time data that can be responded to.

Some ideas for data points:

  • New client calls
  • Closed business / revenue
  • Manufacturing goal and output for the day
  • Customer support issues / resolved issues

Next, identify where the data lives:

  • Accounting systems (QuickBooks, Xero, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.)
  • ERP Systems / SQL (Syspro, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.)
  • Raw Data Types (Text, Excel, CSV)
  • CRM Systems (SalesForce, Zoho, HubSpot, SugarCRM, etc.)

How do I integrate this data?

This is where a provider like BrightGauge can really help. Providers that have an integration with a product you use will have identified the key pieces of data in a vast array of data available via API and SQL queries, making it much easier and faster for you to create gauges, widgets, and full fledge dashboards. Look for providers that provide integrations to your existing systems above, but if you can't (and you likely won't) be able to find someone that has all the integrations, choose someone that has some of them and manually integrate the rest. This is where knowing who in your company has the core responsibility for the specific data can be a big help. Also, working with your MSP or a consultant to integrate the needed data into the system can be a big help, as this is often the most challenging hurdle for companies to overcome.

Ok, Now What?

First, you defined the data you want to put in your dashboards, and you defined the systems they are in. Then you selected a dash-boarding application and integrated your data... now for the fun part. Once you have all the data in there and defined, building gauges is intuitive and easy. With little training your management team should be able to manipulate data in ways they wouldn't have thought previously possible. It will take some time to figure out just how you want to present the data, but this is the fun part. Go nuts!

  • First, build gauges that will display your key data and validate the accuracy of the data using your traditional systems to make sure you're querying the data and displaying it properly.
  • Next, lay the data out either on email reports or on a screen for those television displays you've been envisioning.
  • Finally, hang up those TV's to display your newly created dashboards and schedule those recurring emails to the relevant team to spread your data through your organization.

Final Thoughts

The idea of real-time data being available to small businesses just as recently as five years ago seemed like a pipe dream. The players in the market were companies like IBM, the costs were enormous, and the process cumbersome. Now with applications becoming more open, providing better access to data, and analytics software coming in at costs small businesses can afford, it's no longer a dream but a reality that your small business can enjoy too. If you need help or want to learn more about building real-time data dashboard, feel free to give us a call or reach out via our website.

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