Clients often ask us which report will provide the information they need for scheduled meetings or the best ones to send to Agency Leaders.  Reports have been the norm for many years, and are still the best choice in many situations, but there is another option to consider – Live Dashboards.  The dashboards we’ll talk about in this article are the pre-programmed Live Dashboards that already exist in Webvantage.  These are different from custom dashboards you can build in the Dynamic Report Writer.

What’s Best? Live Dashboard or Report

When you need up-to-the-minute information, a Live Dashboard is the better choice.  If you pull data to create a report first thing in the morning, the report may not be current for an afternoon meeting.  Some Live Dashboards allow you to make immediate updates, rather than later from meeting notes.  For those in the accounting world, reports can sometimes get massive and difficult to read.  With a Live Dashboard, you can get a quick, visual summary of important information.  In most cases, you can drill-down through many layers of additional information that make up that summary view.

The Agency Goals Graph provides a quick visual of important data that drives your Agency, with up-to-the minute billing, expense, and profit data.  In addition, the Agency Goals Chart takes the same data and compares it to the Agency’s defined goals.  These two tools together give you the “big picture” view without the need to run multiple reports.

Billing Trends quickly display the peaks and valleys that have occurred in your billing in the current and prior year.  Filtering can be done by Office, Client/Division/Product, and Sales Class levels.  This information can be very helpful when budgeting for individual clients or the Agency as a whole.

The Employee Utilization Dashboard provides an interactive view of the information found in the Employee Utilization reports and Report Writer Data Sets.  Agency leaders can review employee productivity and realization information in real-time by month, quarter, or year using the dashboard without running a single report.  With the ability to drill down to details, the Employee Utilization Dashboard allows for analysis of summary and detail-level data without running and comparing multiple reports.

Project Management is also an area where Live Dashboards shine.  Want to know how many hours have been posted to an ongoing job?  Your QvA (Quote vs. Actual) includes hours that were logged moments ago and compares them to quoted hours in an approved estimate.  The Risk Analysis Summary shows actual hours, color-coded by risk of exceeding quoted or planned hours or dollars.  It will indicate the trend of each project’s progress.

The Project Schedule Multi-View is a helpful tool to view during Status Meetings.  You can sort Projects by Account Executive and update schedules on the spot.  Some Desktop Objects on your workspace can be used as Live Dashboards, and allow you to filter data displayed, and even update information.  The Task List shows upcoming tasks for today or any date range. Filter by Employee, Project Manager, or Role to get the information you need.  Tasks can be updated or reassigned during a Status meeting, and task comments can be added, allowing assigned employees to view the comments before you leave the conference room – even if they are not in the meeting.  Project Viewpoint provides an overview of all jobs with options to filter by Account Executive, Client/Division/Product, Campaign, Sales Class, and more. View an up-to-the-minute summary of hours posted by job, function, or employee in sortable columns.

When is a report the better choice?

If you need to know data as of a point in time, use a report.  It will provide a snapshot of data as of the time or date range.  Let’s say you need year-to-date posted hours (billable and non-billable) for each employee by department.  A Direct Time Report will get the job done.

Accounting has long lived in the world of reports.  And for point-in-time analysis, reports are a good solution.  Archival reporting is also better with a report over a Live Dashboard.  You may find that both reports and Live Dashboards have their place for the same data – reporting for an archival, point-in-time focus, and Live Dashboards for real-time views.

Most data you’ll need in real time is available in a Live Dashboard. Dashboards can save you time and help you communicate with your team immediately.

Advantage offers training on live dashboards and reports, as well as consulting on when to use each option.  Contact us at training@gotoadvantage.com or call 800-841-2078, option #3 to learn more.

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