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Utilize The Effectiveness Of Professional Executive Dashboards & Reports

Executive dashboards and reports by datapine.

In the digital age, brands, businesses, and organizations have a wealth of information at their fingertips: a level of insight that if leveraged correctly, not only has the power to offer a real competitive edge but provides the potential to innovate, inspire and create a well-oiled commercial machine that continues to evolve with the times. Executive dashboards empower this process and provide benefits across the board. But how so?

We are indeed living in a time rich in invaluable digital data. By gaining the ability to gather, organize and analyze the metrics that are most important to your organization, you stand to make your business empire more intelligent than ever before – and executive reporting and business dashboards will help you do just that.

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Moreover, such dashboards will create a data-driven environment where you and your team will be able to utilize a modern dashboard creator, automation, and intelligent solutions that will increase productivity and save countless dollars.

To put the importance, functionality, and organizational benefits of data analytics in business, here we explore executive dashboard templates, offering an insight into what they are, why they work and real-life executive report examples created with a modern online reporting tool.

What Is An Executive Dashboard?

Financial executive dashboard reporting telling a story thanks to historical graphs (Revenue, Operational expenses and Earning before interest) that are displayed so as to be the most important graphs, with additional info on their side (Gross Profit Margin, OPEX ratio, EBIT Margin, Net Profit Margin, etc.)

An executive dashboard is a management and reporting tool used to visualize interactive metrics critical for executive-level professionals that need a high-level and strategic overview of their business initiatives, whether finance, IT, or marketing, among others.

Modern executive reporting consolidates key business metrics while outlining problems and solutions in which KPI dashboards are used to provide additional insights and serve as an added visual representation that usually lacks in executive reports and summaries.

The accessible visual nature of executive reporting means that it’s easy to make sense of specific datasets, spot ongoing trends and take a number of decisive actions that ultimately benefit the business, often in real-time. Primary business areas are enhanced, with the aim of identifying weaknesses as well as strengths, improving internal processes, boosting staff engagement, improving service, raising productivity and making the organization more profitable.

Executive dashboards work by connecting relevant data sources with the internal systems currently used within the business – platforms such as accounting software, your customer relationship management (CRM) program, email networks, and in-built website analytics, among others.

Through those connections, your executive dashboard pulls all of this information into one central location, empowering you to view your business’s most important information without logging into multiple platforms or systems. Moreover, executive reporting and dashboards also allow you to set targets, work with specific KPIs, and tailor your data to best suit the needs, aims, goals, and mission of your organization.

The point is, 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. And, given the fact that people following directions with illustrations do so 323% more effectively than those who follow text-only directions, executive dashboards are a powerful tool in today’s competitive commercial landscape.

“By visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes. A sort of information map. And when you’re lost in information, an information map is kind of useful.” – David McCandless

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Best Practices In Executive Dashboard Reporting

It should be quite clear that dashboards are used for executive reporting. Additionally, they represent a visual part that reports and summaries need in order to obtain a clear representation of data, generating added value to written words. To reap the rewards of executive reports, it’s important to understand what it takes to create an online dashboard that works for your organization in particular. When it comes to reporting data visually, an executive dashboard is an incredibly effective tool so it’s important to get it right from the outset.

Let’s look at the essential executive dashboard best practices and steps you should consider when creating a compelling executive reporting practice. From understanding your users to data-driven storytelling, you’ll uncover all of the information you need to make your reports and dashboards as successful as possible.

How to write an executive report: 1. Know your audience, 2. Set your KPIs, 3. Integrate your existing systems, 4. Customize your dashboard, 5. Tell a story with your data, 6. Use professional executive dashboard software, 7. Brief your team on new executive reporting processes.

1. Know your audience

The most fundamental aspect of executive reporting is understanding the needs, aims, and goals of your users. Depending on the key aim function of your executive summary dashboard, you will need to feature data visualizations and functionality that will improve performance while providing analytical opportunities that will benefit the evolution of the organization.

By placing yourself in the shoes of your core users, asking people within the organization which data they would like to improve their performance (or make their role easier), and selecting the right key performance indicators, you will lay solid foundations for your executive summary dashboard efforts. This brings us to our next point.

2. Set your key performance indicators (KPIs)

Choosing the KPIs that best reflect your company’s core aims and goals will ensure that your executive reports are both relevant and effective.

For instance, if you’re looking to improve the financial economy of your organization, you might want to tackle the financial reporting and analysis process, and then choose to set up a financial dashboard, drilling down into KPIs based on operating expense ratios and net profit percentages.

3. Integrate your existing systems

Concerning the setup of executive dashboard templates, it’s important to integrate all of your current business systems through APIs to ensure the accurate collection, curation, analysis and real-time value of your data.

In doing so, you’ll ensure you’ve created an executive dashboard reporting ecosystem that not only presents the insights and metrics that are most valuable to your organization but also a centralized space that will offer data-driven value throughout the organization.

4. Customize your executive dashboard

Once the framework of one of your templates is up and running, you’ll be able to tailor it to your preference, editing your dashboard so it returns your specified insights and metrics in a way that is most valuable to your business.

The best executive dashboards adhere to the best possible design practices. To help customize your executive report templates for success, follow our essential guide to 20 dashboard design principles and best practices.

5. Tell a story with your data

As a species, we thrive on storytelling. By creating a strong narrative with your data dashboards and visualizations, you’ll be able to deliver essential messages in a way that inspires both internal and external stakeholders, leading to increased success in the process.

Creating narratives with your metrics and insights is essentially an extension of the design process. To steer your efforts, here’s a guide to data storytelling for your reading pleasure.

6. Use professional executive dashboard software

To make the most out of your dashboard, professional software is a must. While you can try to use static ways of reporting, you won't have that much power over your data as spreadsheets and presentations will not show real-time information and the lack of interactive elements will finally affect your analysis since you will spend a significant amount of time to export historical data for each dashboard or report you want to create.

By using modern software and tools, real-time data is right at your fingertips, and interactive possibilities are endless. From drilling down into bits and pieces of your charts, to powerful filters that automatically change your visualizations. That way, you will have more time to focus on other critical tasks in your company, and gain a great business assistant that will skyrocket your performance.

7. Brief your team on new executive reporting processes

Finally, it’s essential that you are clear and transparent about your executive reporting processes with the entire organization, giving the right people access to the right metrics and holding internal workshops to make sure that everyone is up to speed with the new system.

If everyone knows how to use the core features and functionality of your reports, and they’re fully on board with your updated processes analytics processes, you’ll be able to squeeze every last drop of value from the wealth of business data available at your fingertips.

Now that you know the most prominent benefits of such dashboards, it's time to take a look at industry examples that come from the real-world. These templates will inspire your dashboard creation and provide you with a roadmap to start building your own.

Explore 10 Great Executive Dashboard Examples

These 10 visual executive report examples will demonstrate the function and value of a professional dashboard designer in a real-world business context.

1. Management KPI Dashboard

The management KPI dashboard hones in on revenue on a consumer-based level while offering insights on the cost of new customer acquisition.

Management executive dashboard showing important KPIs to C-level executives.

**click to enlarge**

By offering a mix of actual revenue metrics based on specific time frames in addition to comprehensive information concerning revenue development, this management report is an invaluable way to spot real-time trends, make significant economic enhancements and set tangible sales targets.

Moreover,  the detailed customer-centric information served up by this dynamic management dashboard will give you a better understanding of promotional activities including cross-selling, upselling, or the overall value of your service on an individual basis. When it comes to driving down acquisition costs, developing your service, and boosting your profitability, these KPIs and metrics are essentially gold dust.

Primary KPIs and metrics:

  • Sales Target
  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Customer Acquisition Costs
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2. Executive Financial Dashboard For CFOs

CFOs have a demanding task to make sure the financial performance of a company is progressing and has positive results. Focused on the strategic initiatives of the financial department, critical for ensuring the company has insights into the most important high-level financial charts and metrics, such an executive dashboard template provides many opportunities to dig deeper into the data and generate actionable insights. Let's take a closer look at an example.

An executive dashboard example showing high-level financial metrics such as the revenue, gross profit, cost breakdown, etc.

**click to enlarge**

This executive KPI dashboard hones on the 4 most relevant areas of performance that Chief Financial Officers find helpful in their strategic monitoring: costs, sales goals, gross profit, and satisfaction levels of customers and employees. The latter are not financial metrics per se, but they are included since CFOs need to know how the customers and the team are performing - if the satisfaction levels are decreasing, they will certainly affect the business finances as well. That's why C-level management needs to monitor these indicators to ensure that everyone critical for keeping the company's financial health is satisfied and react immediately - if not.

The focal metrics on the left side of this CFO dashboard depict the financial performance within the first quarter of the year and you can immediately spot that operating expenses don't perform quite well in comparison to other executive reporting dashboard metrics such as the net income or revenue. In this case, it makes sense to identify what exactly caused this increment in expenses and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Primary KPIs and metrics:

  • Berry Ratio
  • Economic Value Added (EVA)
  • Employee and customer satisfaction

3. Financial Overview Dashboard

Another example focusing on the financial activity at a top-level, the third of our examples offers a panoramic snapshot of gross profit margin, operating expenses (OPEX) ratio, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) margin, and net profit margin, as well as a host of additional relevant insights.

Financial executive dashboard reporting telling a story thanks to historical graphs (Revenue, Operational expenses and Earning before interest) that are displayed so as to be the most important graphs, with additional info on their side (Gross Profit Margin, OPEX ratio, EBIT Margin, Net Profit Margin, etc.)

**click to enlarge**

These financial KPIs are often determined from the income statement and not only provide a viable means of streamlining your organization’s financial processes, but also present opportunities to improve the overall financial structure of your business’s financially-driven operations.

By creating such a financial dashboard, you will not only have the possibility to automate many calculations but focus on what the data is telling you and provide opportunities to react quickly and on point.

Primary KPIs and metrics:

  • Net Profit Margin Percentage
  • Operating Expenses Ratio

4. Investor Relations Dashboard

The investor relations dashboard, and third of our executive report examples, is pivotal in quantifying your business’s operational KPIs while calculating and communicating top-level metrics based on the company’s overall situation. This level of insight is key in keeping track of the major investors that could make or break your business’s success.

Visual of a business executive dashboard example for investors.

**click to enlarge**

In addition to a host of invaluable equity and assets-centric information, this third of our executive dashboard examples also gives an insight into your company’s share price, the first line of call in finance and a near-absolute indication of the success of your business.

Primary KPIs and metrics:

  • Return on Assets
  • P/E Ratio
  • Return on equity

5. CTO Dashboard

As modern problems require modern solutions, CTOs have the responsibility to provide solutions and look after the technological and IT-relevant data and growth. By developing an executive reporting dashboard that helps in managing and consolidating data from multiple touchpoints, executives from the IT department or company can have a birds-eye overview of the most important IT data and immediately act upon issues.

A CTO dashboard example showing relevant metrics focused on internal processes, learning, finance and customers, and users.

**click to enlarge**

In information technology, it's critical to have access to the most up-to-date and important data that will enable CTOs to make the best possible decisions and improve departmental performance. An executive dashboard solution such as the CTO dashboard above will serve as a single point of truth for the most critical IT data and strategic performance.

In our executive dashboard design, we have focused on 3 main sections: learning, internal, and finance/customers. Each section has its distinctive performance data and underlines relevant metrics. In the learning part of this IT executive dashboard, the focus is on learning, where the restore success rate, reopened tickets, team attrition rate, and critical bugs will tell you how well the team learns from mistakes and whether they need more support. In this case, you can see that almost all areas are market green, except for one, which ultimately means that the teams' performance is quite good.

In the next part of the dashboard, which focuses on finance and customers, CTOs have the possibility to take a closer look at expenses, users, and the net promoter score. These metrics will help executives to connect additional information outside of the specific IT indicators in order to paint a more detailed and profitable picture. In other words, if users and customers are not satisfied and if costs keep piling up, it might make sense to investigate further because the IT department could experience additional issues. To learn more about how you can improve customer support processes and connect to other critical departments within a company, we suggest you visit our Zendesk dashboard page.

Primary KPIs and metrics:

  • Number of Critical Bugs
  • Reopened Tickets
  • Accuracy of Estimates
  • Net Promoter Score

6. SaaS Management Dashboard

The next of our executive dashboard examples is dedicated to software as a service (SaaS). Covering all of the key aspects of top-level SaaS management, this most dynamic of templates offers a comprehensive birds-eye view of your entire operation.

An executive dashboard example visualizing the number of paying customers, ARPU, CAC, CLTV, and MRR over the course of a month.

**click to enlarge**

Each KPI within this interactive reporting tool works cohesively to deliver a balanced mix of visual information that drills down into customers, recurring revenue, and costs.

With critical metrics including MRR, APRU, customer lifetime value, and customer acquisition costs, our SaaS reporting dashboard will not only help you improve the efficiency of your software as a service offerings, but you’ll also be able to meet the ever-evolving needs of your customers on a sustainable basis. A powerful business intelligence tool for any ambitious modern tech organization.

Primary KPIs and metrics:

  • Customer Acquisition Costs
  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • ARPU
  • MRR

7. CMO Dashboard

One of the best executive dashboards for senior-level decision-makers, our CMO marketing dashboard offers access to a wealth of invaluable information at a quick glance.

An executive report example showcasing high-level marketing KPIs for CMOs.

**click to enlarge**

Serving up five effective KPIs in a logical, digestible format, including numeric representations and line charts, this most inspirational of executive dashboard examples offers a wealth of insight in one easy-to-access, centralized space.

As an essential and all-encompassing field, digital marketing is integral to the growth and evolution of any modern organization, regardless of industry. Here, you can drill down into every vital aspect of your marketing performance while spotting integral trends both historically and in real-time. By gaining access to such invaluable data, you can improve your responsiveness while formulating improved marketing reports and strategies that will increase your audience while boosting your return on investment (ROI).

Primary KPIs and metrics:

  • Sales Target & Growth
  • Website-Traffic-to-Lead Ratio
  • Cost per Lead
  • Lead-to-MQL Ratio
  • MQL-to-SQL Ratio

8. Sales KPI Dashboard

The last (but certainly not least) of our executive summary dashboard examples is our sales KPI report. Naturally, sales are essential to almost every business, regardless of sector, which means working with the right sales KPIs is vital to your ongoing growth and success.

A monthly executive report template focused on high-level sales metrics: revenue, cost breakdown, incremental sales, etc.

**click to enlarge**

Offering a comprehensive panorama of the practical information required to make sales activities perform to their optimum capacity, this is one of our most comprehensive of executive summary dashboard examples. The range of sales graphs and charts included within this report provides a wealth of information that will vastly improve the internal efficiency of your sales department while helping to reduce costs, improve output, and ultimately, boost your organization's bottom line.

This reporting tool empowers sales managers and executives to compare a range of metrics and identify where and how to make strategic adjustments that optimize performance. Keeping your sales initiatives on the right track will contribute to your business’ success year after year - and this is the very tool for the job.

Primary KPIs and metrics:

  • Revenue per Sales Rep
  • Customer Churn Rate
  • Upsell & Cross-Sell Rates
  • Profit Margin per Sales Rep
  • Incremental Sales by Campaign

"The greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see." – John W. Tukey

9. Manufacturing Executive Dashboard

Another effective executive management dashboard that serves as a template for high-level managers brings vital strategic indicators into a single point of access. Designed as a KPI scorecard, this dashboard will make sure that manufacturing executives have a clear overview of the effectiveness, quality, production, and costs.

This executive summary dashboard shows 4 main areas of manufacturing performance: effectiveness, quality, production, and revenue.

**click to enlarge**

The first part, called the effectiveness area, of this executive dashboard presentation, demonstrates the performance of critical metrics such as the overall operations effectiveness, equipment, total effective equipment performance, and capacity utilization. These indicators, created with BI dashboard software, will help manufacturing leaders to compare the performance of the current month with the previous one and see if there are any issues in the production process and if there are needs for additional adjustments.

Other parts are structured similarly, but with different metrics and points in mind: C-level managers in the manufacturing industry should have an overview of the quality and performance where you can monitor the production volume, performance, and on-time delivery. That will help in assessing whether the products are delivered on time, and compare the findings with the previous period, in this case, month.

Finally, the last part of this executive dashboard report indicates the development of costs and revenue, showing the relation between the current and the previous month. Such data is important to control regularly since it can affect other metrics on this dashboard; if the production volume and production time increased, they can directly cause an increment in costs.

Primary KPIs and metrics:

  • Overall Operations Effectiveness (OOE)
  • Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
  • Total Effective Equipment Performance (TEEP)
  • Capacity Utilization

10. COO Executive Dashboard

Finally, our last executive dashboarding visual is designed for Chief Operating Officers that need to have strong operational presence and control. In order to optimize business operations, COOs need to keep up with fast-paced environments and ever-changing situations that need data yesterday. That's why a dashboard that is generated with the help of self-service BI has enormous support power to data-driven COOs and the ones that strive to become one.

A COO dashboard example showing metrics important for operational management in the logistics sector such as deliveries by destination, loading time and weight, fleet statistics, and delivery status, among others.

**click to enlarge**

When you consider the logistics industry, COOs need to have a reliable outline of business operations and quickly identify the potential for growth. As depicted in our example above, transportation management is one of the most critical parts of logistics, where delivering products in the most effective way possible is a significant component in our cutthroat economy.

In essence, this COO dashboard displays fleet efficiency, average loading, time and weight, delivery status, and deliveries by destination. These metrics will help executives to assess the health of the transportation processes and whether there is space for improvement. If you spot any irregularities such as an increase in the loading weight and transport, you might want to consider whether this is going to cause potential accidents on the road. The point is to optimize your metrics and operations but not overstretch them so that you confront serious operational issues.

Primary KPIs and metrics:

  • Delivery Time
  • Transportation Costs

Now that we listed the top examples, we will take a closer look at the benefits of such dashboards and why you should utilize them.

The Benefits Of Executive Reporting & Dashboards

To paint a more detailed picture of the power and potential of executive reporting and dashboards, here are the key benefits of using these intuitive online data visualization tools:

  • Vision: A report offers enhanced visibility and insight, thus allowing you to understand every key aspect of your business in greater detail, and in turn, allowing you to make more informed decisions.
  • Evolution: The ability to visualize your data will empower you to make continual improvements to your business, moving with the landscape around you by measuring and building upon your performance.
  • Economy: Rather than spending endless hours logging into your business systems and running reports, executive dashboards will allow you to view and engage with all of the information you need in one digestible space. Time is money, and if you’re saving time (while improving your internal processes), you will ultimately save money, making your empire far more economical as a result.
  • Realization: By working with executive report-based KPIs that are most relevant to your business, you’ll be able to refine and realize your business plan by working to accurate, valuable targets, and ensure that you reach them, time after time. There is a number of KPI examples you could choose from, but the important thing to consider is to find the right one.
  • Development: The digestible visual insights gained from executive dashboards will give you the tools to track individual employee performance, helping you to reward top performers and develop those that need additional training, support, or motivation.
  • Benchmarking: As executive dashboards offer a wealth of dynamic data visualizations based on very specific KPIs, it’s possible to set frequent benchmarks that will empower senior decision-makers to push organizational boundaries while measuring success in a way that improves engagement, motivation, and interdepartmental performance.
  • Communication: By offering access to detailed pockets of information in a way that is engaging and digestible, executive dashboards improve internal communication across the board by empowering everyone with information that improves the collaborative process while boosting individual performance.
  • Speed: The quicker and more efficient a business is, the better it’s likely to perform. Executive dashboard reporting helps executives make top-level decisions quicker and more accurately, which serves to catalyze organizational progress in a number of areas. The intuitive and customizable nature of an executive dashboard offers the unique (and powerful) benefit of speeding up existing processes while enhancing the strategy and decision-making process.
  • Evidence: While this may seem like an abstract concept, when it comes to data analytics, the more panoramic a snapshot you can access, the better. By being able to dig down deep into a host of invaluable metrics, you’ll be able to back up your decisions with tangible trends, patterns, and visualizations that everyone understands - the kind of evidence that will make your decisions all the more persuasive. This is a notion that we have demonstrated with our examples and executive dashboard templates.

“You can achieve simplicity in the design of effective charts, graphs and tables by remembering three fundamental principles: restrain, reduce, emphasize.” – Garr Reynolds

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Companies that use data analytics are five times more likely to make faster decisions, based on a survey conducted by Bain & Company. Moreover, according to Forbes, 85% of industry leaders believe that big data will drastically enhance the way they do business – exploring what it can do for improving the business performance, big data examples in real life can inspire and jump-start your new business solutions.

During our journey into the world of executive report examples and executive dashboard templates, we’ve considered the practical applications of modern reporting tools, looked at the official executive dashboard definition, and explored the many benefits cutting-edge analytical skills bring to the business table.

As a senior-level executive, you will no doubt be responsible for formulating plans and initiatives that can make or break your business. Of course, such vital decisions come with an enormous amount of pressure. But, with executive-level reports and dashboards, you’ll be able to make choices, create strategies, and communicate with your staff with 100% data-driven confidence - something that will make your working life easier and more successful.

It’s clear that executive dashboards and reports provide a window of vision that not only yields greater real-time results but has the unrivaled power of cementing continual evolution as well as a sustainable level of success in an increasingly competitive digital world.

Perpetual growth and progress are essential to the longevity of any company looking to thrive and survive in this cutthroat business age, and senior-level reporting is the vessel that will secure your success year after year.

Ready to tackle your own executive dashboards and try these dynamic reporting tools for yourself? Try our powerful dashboard software for a 14-day trial today - it’s completely free and will open you up to all of the key benefits of digital dashboard reporting. Enjoy!