Why Every Association Needs to Use Analytics Dashboards
It’s not uncommon for associations to fall into the trap of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Unfortunately, what happens in some cases is that association management or volunteers don’t realize that something is, in fact, broken and therefore continue to work under the assumption the organization is operating efficiently—all while the underlying issue gets worse. And if the problem is finance-related, the damage can quickly become severe.
The good news is that there are an abundance of solutions available to associations that can help you ensure the organization is operating as it should. One example is analytics dashboards. An analytics dashboard presents large volumes of data in a user-friendly visual format that allows you to see key metrics at a glance. It is essential for associations because it provides critical insight into the overall health and performance of the organization.
In this article, we’ll discuss the fundamentals of analytics dashboards and why every association should use them.
What Are Analytics Dashboards?
An analytics dashboard consolidates various data points about your association along with multiple tools you can use to explore and, ultimately, better understand that data. For example, you could create a dashboard that displays general association stats like total membership, new members, overall retention rate, and renewal rate.
You can also use dashboards to quickly view business insights and financial metrics such as month-to-date payment volume and total year-to-date transactions as well as volume by day and transactions by payment source. An analytics dashboard can both offer a snapshot of an association’s current financial health and illustrate performance and trends over time.
Top 5 Benefits of Using Dashboards
The primary advantage of an analytics dashboard is that it enables you to transform raw data into easy-to-read tables, charts, and graphs. But dashboards offer plenty of additional benefits, some of which we’ve outlined below.
1. Instantly identify unusual activity. In a list of every transaction your association has conducted during a given period, it may be difficult to spot potentially suspicious transactions. However, because dashboards display data visually, you’ll immediately see out-of-the-ordinary activity and can start investigating.
2. Use objective data to easily draw conclusions and guide your decision-making. There’s no need to make assumptions about the volume of revenue coming into the association because the dashboard gives you on-demand visibility into the association's finances.
3. Gain insight into payment trends. Analytics dashboards allow you to see when members make payments throughout the year and whether they do so online or in person. With this information, you can pinpoint patterns and more effectively forecast future revenue.
4. Illustrate progress towards strategic financial goals. Rather than tell committee members and stakeholders the association is financially healthy, you can use dashboards to show them, which helps make the news more potent. Additionally, you’ll be able to see if a goal was reached earlier than anticipated and share this accomplishment.
5. Demonstrate financial impact of association activities. When your association enacts a major change (for example, offering members a recurring payment option), you won’t need to rely on anecdotal evidence to understand its effect. A dashboard will let you see the actual impact the decision has had on the association’s cash flow.
Most importantly, analytics dashboards save you from wasting time and energy digging through data to determine the association’s financial standing.
Tips for Using Analytics Dashboards
To make sure you get the most out of your analytics dashboards, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is to remember that one of the main goals of using dashboards is to help you understand the relationship between the various activities the association engages in and the choices the organization makes. In other words, you shouldn’t evaluate the data from your dashboard in a vacuum; rather, you need to consider the role of this data in the larger story of your association.
Keep in mind that while dashboards are powerful, they aren’t magical. It’s your responsibility to ensure that you and your staff know how to analyze the data presented in them. An analytics dashboard should help your staff reach actionable conclusions, not generate unanswerable questions. If necessary, schedule training sessions with the team so you can ensure they know how to use the dashboards properly.
On that note, you need to consider who will have access to your dashboard. Not everyone in the organization requires the same level of visibility into the association’s finances. You’ll also need to establish how much the analytics dashboard will influence decision-making at various levels of the organization. Some staff members will assign greater significance to the data in the dashboard than others, so you need to ensure everyone is on the same page in regards to the association’s goals.
Analytics dashboards can help you make more confident decisions about how best to manage your association and give you the peace of mind of knowing the association is operating as expected. Stop relying on gut feelings and assumptions and start taking advantage of dashboards.
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