While accountants are used to viewing data in a multitude of rows, columns and pivot tables, most people struggle with seeing any patterns in rows of numbers. The implementation of visualizations through data analytic dashboards allow for you to view data in a user-friendly environment in easy to understand visuals. In addition, the creation of a dashboard allows for the implementation of multiple visualizations that best suit the company and its intended users and can generally have multiple sources of data and aggregation of data.
The creation of dashboards/visualizations will provide the company a different means of communication utilizing colors, images, and visualizations to highlight important data points and using these datapoints as a basis for discussion. In addition, including a month-end reporting package allows for a quick read for non-financial readers, without the needs for continuous and tedious preparation, at a level that is meaningful based on their role or needs.
Visualization options are almost endless with current software options. Options include charts (area, bar, graph, pie, etc.), maps, scatter plots, tree maps and tables are standard options for most software packages. In addition, the building of dashboards and visualizations allows for ways to include/exclude certain data (perhaps certain division should be excluded or done independent) or group transactions (by period, by state/country, etc.). In addition, companies can utilize scripting and computer coding, such as Python and R-Visual, to create in-depth visualizations.
Dashboards can generally be shared in real-time with instant or frequent data refreshing or can be generated periodically (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.). Based on software utilize the dashboards can be shared via a website, email, print reports and even digital signage (think of airport arrival and departure boards).
An example of a dashboard that is frequently used is within COVID-19 tracking, whether it is state level data such as AZ Department of Health Service (https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/covid-19/dashboards/index.php) or John Hopkins University (https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data) both organizations have created a dashboard to share information to users of all different levels of expertise and familiarity.
We’re here to help you get the most from your data. Please contact us with any questions or to get the ball rolling on building your own data analytics dashboard.
Kevin Bach, CPA