Shortly before or after publicly releasing a product, I inevitably fashion some form of a business dashboard. I’m amazed at how many products are launched without any instrumentation. To me, this results in a scenario similar to “flying blind”, or only having partial, imperfect information about the health of your product.
A business dashboard is a realtime or near-realtime information screen that provides information about key metrics around your product and business. When set up correctly, they provide numerous benefits.
1. A business dashboard provides motivation
After any product launch, it’s easy to lose steam. You’re working on a marketing campaign and it seems to be increasing website traffic, but is it really helping sales? What sort of ROI are you getting on your effort? Should you continue with it or try something different?
It’s hard to feel motivated when you don’t have a good idea of where you stand and where you’re heading. Having an indication that you’re not doing so great can motivate you to work harder. An indicator that an action you took is paying off can also motivate you to keep it up.
2. A business dashboard gives you metrics of your progress
Tied closely to the benefits of motivation, having a measure of the health of your product is absolutely necessary. These will be crucial when measuring the health of your product over time. They can provide small metrics like “how many people are using this new feature we added?” or larger ones, like “what is the average lifetime value of a customer?”.
3. A business dashboard guides decision making and focuses your effort
Building metrics around key aspects of your business, such as customer acquisition, onboarding, retention, and churn will help you better understand why you’re at the place you are today.
Without business metrics, it’s much easier to base a business decision on the latest article you’ve read on Medium. Having metrics around your business, instead, will scream at you when there’s a problem. Retention may be great, but your customers are getting stuck during the onboarding process. Acquisition is lower this month since that article you were mentioned in became less visible. With each of these indications, obvious, logical reactions can follow. When you invest time addressing them, you know it’s a worthwhile endeavor as opposed to simply “trying something” and seeing if any sort of measurable result occurs.
They’re good for successes, too. Maybe something you changed has resulted in a spike in new customers. That’s good to know! Perhaps the newsletter you’ve been sending out has increased product engagement and decreased churn more than you imagined. Keep it up!
Build a Dashboard Today
If you don’t have one already, spec one out today. If you’re using third party services, like Stripe, run a google search on “Stripe Metrics”. We’re partial to profitwell.com, but encourage you to check out multiple offerings. Other metrics engines like Google Analytics and Mixpanel are both great but are narrowly scoped. Use them, but try to extract the data and use it to measure bigger metrics and inform the higher-level measures of your business.