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5 simple steps to reports and dashboards

Last Updated: Aug 07, 2017 10:02AM CDT
Reports and dashboards show how you performed in the past and what’s happening at the moment—they’re key to driving success and adoption for any database project. The information provided by reports and dashboards is especially important in today’s environment, where it’s critical to be proactive, rather than reactive, in your approach. You want to be able to spot trends and act on them immediately.

To make the most of Congregation Connect CRM’s reporting capabilities, it’s important to plan carefully and then follow these 5 proven steps to making reports and dashboards part of your business process:
  1. Know what keeps your executives up at night
  2. Capture the right data
  3. Build your reports
  4. Build your dashboards
  5. Use data to change behavior and drive results
Step #1: Know what keeps your executives up at night

Finding answers to critical business questions and making good decisions is vital to executives—and to their companies’ success and competitive position.
  • Ask questions and start at the top - When designing reports and dashboards, first define what your executives—your Executive Director; the board chairperson; and other stakeholders—need to know to run their business. What are their key metrics? What behaviors do they want to encourage?
  • Align metrics with your synagogue's vision - Take your synagogue's objectives, determine the metrics that measure those objectives, and map those metrics to the capabilities of Congregation Connect. For example, if forecasting and tracking major gifts are important to the ED, make sure you understand the key data points that give insight into those tasks and the best frequency for reporting that data. Or if your marketing person needs to track response rates, meetings, or outreach awareness, you need to capture that data at the outreach, outreach member, lead, and invoice level to return meaningful metrics. 
Step #2: Capture the right data

Your reports and dashboards are only as good as the data behind them—planning is the key to capturing and displaying the correct metrics. Identify your sources early. Consider working backwards: plan your reports first and then configure the application by adding custom fields, formulas, and so on.
If your marketing team wants to see outreach effectiveness over time, for example, you’d want to track which outreaches lead to prospects, donations, and event attendance. Every week, you could use snapshot reports on member status by outreach and donation status by outreach to show how many members transactions were received and converted from each outreach.
  • Manage what you measure - Pick a limited number of key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics. A third-party survey of the number of metrics used by CEO’s showed that 52 percent use 5–10 metrics to manage their entire business.
  • Limit the number or reports/dashboards - Focus on those tied to specific business objectives.
  • Develop a clear, concise naming strategy - That approach will make report and dashboard folders easy to find. Use labels that are meaningful to your users; for example “Membership Team,” “School Attendance Analysts,” or “Won Donations by Year.” For dashboard folders, start with the word “Dashboard” (Dashboard – Membership Team,” “Dashboard – School Attendance")
  • Determine security and access for the report and dashboard folders and give users access based on their job functions or roles.
Step #3: Build your reports

Most CLIENTS start with a current report tracked in Excel or Access and use it as a baseline. As you begin to build reports in Congregation Connect, there are several resources to help you get started.
  • Start with out-of-the-box reports. Congregation Connect offers standard reports across all standard objects. You can use these reports as the basis for your custom reports.
  • Understand the three different report types and how they're used:
    • Tabular reports are the simplest and fastest way to return your data in a simple list view format. Keep in mind that tabular reports can’t be used to create dashboard components.
    • Summary reports return your data with subtotals and other summary-level information.  Summary reports are great for showing average dollar values for closed won opportunities by salesperson or number of cases by status by support representative.
    • Matrix reports show data summaries against both horizontal and vertical criteria; for example, total sales per sales rep per year by quarter. 
Step #4: Build your dashboards

When you finish planning after asking all the right questions and building your reports, you’re ready to build your dashboards. The key to building dashboards your board members, managers, and users can’t live without is to match the dashboard metrics to a compelling business metric.
  • Understand the different dashboard formats and what type of data is best displayed in each format:
    • Horizontal bar/ vertical column charts are great for showing geographical data, stage or status information, or any data that’s part of a single grouping.
    • Pie and donut charts are useful for displaying data that shows proportions of a total, such as the number of leads by lead source.
    • The funnel, is best used for showing ordered picklists such as invoice stage, membership status, or registration stage.

Step #5: Use data to drive behavior and produce results

Reports and dashboards are designed to be iterative—it’s important to keep them current and relevant. To successfully roll out business metrics, good communication is key. Make it easy for your users to find, view, and access the dashboards relevant to them. Use the schedule refresh feature to ensure your users see the most recent data. And use schedule and email reports and dashboards to remind your users that their business-critical metrics are in Congregation Connect.
  • Manage from the top down - Encourage managers and users to run reports directly from their dashboards. Many clients also have the following mandate for development: “If it’s not in Congregation Connect, it doesn’t exist.” This directive proves to be extremely motivating for development people.
  • Include adoption and data quality metrics - Include a dashboard component that tracks faulty data, such as all accounts without an address or contacts without valid email addresses. Again, publishing such metrics can be extremely motivating.
  • Engage your user community - Don’t make the mistake of tracking such metrics only at the executive level—make sure your users see the same metrics on their personal dashboards. What do your users want to see? What will help them do their jobs faster and smarter? Those are the metrics that matter. 

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