3 Dashboards Every SaaS Company Should Maintain
Dashboards give SaaS companies a standardized, transparent way to communicate the health of their business to all of their stakeholders. Intronis CEO Rick Faulk breaks down three SaaS dashboards your company should be maintaining.
On most modern cars, the dashboard provides a quick glimpse into the vital signs of the machine. Within seconds, you can see how fast you are going, how much gas you have left, how efficiently you are using that gas, and whether there are any other issues with the car.
For SaaS businesses, dashboards deliver similar information and value.
Provided they draw from quality data, SaaS dashboards can quickly tell you and your stakeholders everything you need to know about your business. Worried that you are burning cash at an unhealthy rate? A financial dashboard can confirm or quell that concern, typically provide insight into what exactly is happening. Curious which sales or marketing tactics are bringing in new revenue most efficiently? Dashboards can help identify those tactics, too.
More importantly, SaaS dashboards foster better communication and engagement among a roster of stakeholders, often motivating everyone to work together to achieve a shared set of objectives.
3 Dashboards Every SaaS Business Needs to Maintain
While different dashboards can be created to provide a quick glimpse into the key performance indicators (KPIs) of almost every business function, is it obligatory your business maintain and share all of those dashboards?
Which metrics should you include in your dashboards?
Not necessarily. But the more you do communicate your data to your team and show them how it’s impacting your business goals, the more likely stakeholders will feel more informed about — and invested in — your company’s future.
The good news is that dashboards can be created rather easily through applications like Excel, and the specific fields within those dashboards can be populated with metrics that SaaS companies should already be tracking (churn, customer acquisition cost, sales and marketing spending, sales bookings, etc.).
That being said, there are three basic dashboards that every SaaS business (regardless of size) should maintain:
1) Financial Dashboard
This should be your company’s most comprehensive dashboard, providing every stakeholder in your business — founders, employees, investors, etc. — a complete glimpse into factors impacting its short- and long-term health. This dashboard can include numerous metrics.
- Customer count (number added or lost over the previous quarter or year)
- Sales bookings, close rate, and average deal size
- Marketing expenditures (channel or tactic layouts, cost-per-lead, etc.)
- Cash burn rate (how much money the company spends per month or quarter)
- Customer churn (how many customers are not renewing their contracts over certain periods of time)
Your financial dashboard is an opportunity to report the financial data of the company.
It should deliver a comprehensive overview of the health of the business to everyone who may be impacted by its performance.
2) Management Dashboard
Naturally, each member of your management team will care about different things, and that can make organizing management meetings difficult. A management dashboard helps mitigate that issue by encouraging everyone to focus on your company’s most important key performance indicators.
The metrics you include in your dashboard will vary based on your unique objectives, but management dashboards typically include metrics showing:
- Financial growth (gross profit or loss, SGA expenses, etc.)
- Customer count (customers added or lost)
- Sales bookings and opportunities
- Marketing spending and engagement
- Cash management (cash in, cash out, forecasted revenue, etc.)
- Customer service (net promoter score, call wait time, etc.)
- Head count
It will take time for the common language of a dashboard to take hold. Once it does, the cadence and flow of your management team meetings will improve because everyone should intuitively know which information to report prior to those meetings.
3) Board of Directors Dashboard
Unlike the previous dashboards, a board of directors dashboard focuses solely on information that will help board members quickly assess the health of the business. Because many board members are short on time, it’s best to make this dashboard quick and easy to read.
This dashboard may simply include:
- Revenue bookings
- High level expenses
- High level cash management
- Core marketing expenses and engagement
Of course, you should give board members the ability to drill down further into each of those dashboard elements. However, it’s best to assume board members are only interested in high-level metrics concerning your company’s status. If they want more information, give them access to your financial or management dashboards.
Who should be responsible for creating, maintaining, and sharing these dashboards?
The answer largely depends on the audience each dashboard is designed to address.
For instance, the CFO generally maintains financial dashboards, sharing them weekly or monthly. Meanwhile, the CEO often takes responsibility of the management and board of director dashboards, sharing them occasionally (i.e., prior to monthly management meetings or quarterly board meetings).
The Keys to Impactful Dashboards: Consistency and Transparency
Dashboards are effective for making your stakeholders — more specifically, your employees — feel like they are genuinely involved in your business’s development.
Yes, there is risk involved in sharing this information with everyone in your organization. Namely, if you have any disgruntled or unscrupulous employees, there is the possibility that sensitive financial data might be released or compromised. Then again, if that is a concern of yours, you probably have bigger issues to deal with than transparency.
Are your employees butting heads during dashboard meetings?
In the right environment, the benefits of creating and sharing dashboards with your team outweigh the risks. Along with making your team feel more vested in the company’s success, dashboards also prompt team members to think more creatively about your business’s challenges or opportunities, and share ideas for how to improve your performance against metrics.
Again, the only way to realize those benefits is to ensure that the dashboards you create are consistent and transparent.
If stakeholders feel like you are withholding important information for any reason, it can have a negative impact on company morale and performance. Similarly, if you fail to deliver dashboard reports on a consistent basis then engagement with those reports will suffer.
How does your SaaS company use dashboards to drive stakeholder engagement and improve company performance? Which metrics do you think are most important to include in the three dashboards listed above?
Photo by: Dawn Hopkins