High end project, revenue, and enterprise dashboards are an integral part of upper management large scale organizations. Managers and executive directors are able to judge the direction, capabilities, and progress of a highly efficient organization. Now, spreadsheet and database users are finding ways to take program activities and results to new levels of information sharing.
Here is how to build your own or select one that meets the size and scope of your organization:
- Spreadsheets are available on almost every computer or over the internet. Microsoft’s Excel is one of the most recognized, but some prefer others. Most feature tabbed spreadsheet pages to enter numbers and formulas. With a little sophistication, users enter data on one sheet and compile sums, averages, percentages, and list counts (and more) in charts and graphs on a dashboard sheet. Today’s programs allow sharing of entire workbooks by multiple users along with annotations and comments.
- Databases typically handle larger amounts of active data, such as client lists, donors, suppliers and payments; databases are usually easier to update, but require a high level of sophistication in formatting, reporting, and outputting information. The two most widely known are Microsoft’s Access, and dBase, by dBase.
- Contact Management (CRM) focuses on relationship communications and results. Newer versions of ACT! (by Sage) and Goldmine (by FrontRange Solutions) offer comprehensive systems that include goals, traditional and digital communications, and progress dashboards. Constant Contact and MailChimp (and others) specialize in online digital communications as well as dashboards to show progress.
- Financial Management software like Quickbooks (by Intuit) and Peachtree (by Sage) include dashboards of a nonprofit’s financial conditions, budgets and status.
- Project Management specialty programs, managed with software like Microsoft Project, provide timelines, Gantt charts, and costing out activities.
- Donor Management – Specialty donor management programs such as Raiser’s Edge (by Blackbaud), provide overviews of funding campaigns as well as working with individual givers.
- Mission Management –Newer dashboard planning systems such as WePlanWell (Ibosswell, Inc.) focus on an organization from mission to objectives and activities, providing EDs, managers, and team members various levels of communication to succeed in their mission.
Visualizing current and future outcomes of ongoing activities can be a powerful way to keep your team on track. It also provides upper management and funders with a dashboard look at your progress, direction and speed in accomplishing your mission.