6 Ways to Get the Most Out Of Business Dashboards

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Business dashboards are all the rage in companies around the world. Some companies use them solely to help senior management with decision making while others use them company wide. Many businesses still use manual dashboards created using spreadsheet programs but the trend now is to automate the process. Some business leaders see dashboards as simply charts while others see them as key decision making tools.

There is no denying that many businesses now use dashboards but, while many can see a direct correlation with business performance, others can’t see the benefit. The reason for this; it all comes down to how they are used.

The following are six ways to ensure you get the most out of your business dashboards.

1.    Expand their Use

Many business managers make the mistake of using dashboards for just one purpose. For example, for one department, one process, or only during meetings. This is a very narrow view. To get the most benefit, cascade the use of dashboards across the organization. Every business unit should have a dashboard to keep track of their key performance metrics.

2.    Make them real-time

A good dashboard should be up-to-date by the second. The impact of any business process should be immediately visible. This way, problems can be fixed as soon as they occur and not one week later. For example, a sales dashboard should be able to show sales as they trickle in. A line graph or simple graphic can effectively achieve this; if a daily trend is noticed where sales are slackening, sales managers can quickly convene a meeting with sales staff to find out why activity has dropped and get to the root of the problem before things get out of hand.

There should also be alerts whenever an important event happens. This could be a positive or negative event. For example, once a milestone is met, an alert should go out to all staff congratulating them for hitting the milestone. The vice versa is true where a milestone is missed.

3.    Make Them Interactive & Customizable

The process many companies follow to create their dashboards goes something like this. The team leader or senior person in a department will request the analytics team to prepare a dashboard. After some initial consultation, it will be solely up to the analytics techies to come with what they think suits the department/unit best. The problem with this is that the analytics guys won’t use the dashboard and are not on the business side of things. So, when all decisions are left to them, the often come up with dashboards that have pre-determined metrics and a static layout.

A good dashboard should be customizable and interactive. For example, someone on the team may want to see filter the data in a different way and get different insights. This should be possible. Each user should be able to adjust the dashboard to meet their unique needs.

4.    Include Goals & Reference Points

Dashboards should allow people to always keep their eyes on the prize. Without a reference point, the business will be like a rudderless ship. Benchmarks will be different in every unit of the business. For marketing, a reference point could be a targeted number of new customers/users. For accounting, the goal could be a 10 percent reduction in fixed overheads and so forth. Including goals on the dashboard truly maximize the value of the dashboard.

5.    Automate, Automate, Automate!

It’s really unfortunate that many businesses are still using manual spreadsheet dashboards. This includes leading Fortune 500 companies. A lot of manual work is involved, which results in employees spending too much time doing tasks that aren’t core to the business. There is the additional danger that manual dashboards are rarely current and when management demands they be current, a human resource has to be fully committed to the task. There are many business dashboard solutions. In fact many of the leading CRM, accounting, project management and marketing solutions have beautiful dashboards that do all the heavy lifting for you. If security is an issue, you can always have a custom solution that operates within your closed network designed by a software firm.

6.    Make them Accessible via Different Technologies

Gone are the days when dashboards where designed with only desktop in mind. To get the most out of your dashboards, ensure they are accessible via smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop and even television. This way, anyone with an urgent need to view the data can do so on the fly.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that dashboards have the power to positively impact how an organization makes decisions. Implemented well, dashboards help an organization make smart decisions. At the end of the day, a significant part of smart decision making is having accurate information on a timely basis. And, business success is the result of a series of smart decisions.

Best Managed WordPress Hosting? WPEngine. No Contest.

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10 years. That’s about how long I’ve been working with WordPress sites. It’s grown from a simple blogging platform, so a fully fledged content management system that most use for their website needs, regardless of how they use it. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re currently researching WordPress hosting. Let me make it very simple for you. Stop. This blog post can end any questions you have about who to choose for your managed WordPress hosting. It’s WPEngine. By a long shot. Let’s chat briefly why, and if you’re not convinced after reading through this, caveat emptor.

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Yes, this post is designed to earn referrals with WPEngine, but that doesn’t mean what I’m sharing here isn’t 100% on point. WPEngine is a phenomenal hosting company first, and guess what? They’re also a phenomenal affiliate program. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s break down why you shouldn’t even bother with anyone else when it comes to shopping for managed WordPress hosting.

  1. The hosting is 99.999999% dependable. I’ve been with them for a few years now. Guess how many times any of my sites have been down? ZERO. I’d say 100% here, but nothing in life is that. Seriously, you can’t beat the reliability they offer.
  2. Your site will fly. The difference between the loading time of your site on WPEngine vs. the cheap options is staggering. I’ve used the cheap guys and they will slow your site down to a crawl on numerous occasions. With WPEngine my sites are always loading as quickly as they possibly can. Every time.
  3. The control panel is idiot proof. I’ve used GoDaddy, Bluehost, all the cheap offerings, and their control panels are a mess. WPEngine? Wonderfully designed, easy to use. Which means less time searching for answers or contacting support.
  4. Incredible features. They have so many useful features. The staging site feature is killer and so easy to use. You can work on your site or site redesigns outside your live install, and with the click of a button switch ’em. Awesome. Have a site you need to transfer in or out? Piece of cake. WPEngine makes it as easy as clicking a few buttons. Everything is on point and helps make hosting your site seamless.
  5. Unbeatable support. You ever tried getting on support with the cheap hosting companies? Have fun for the next hour or more. Any time I’ve ever had to reach out to support, I’m talking or chatting to someone within 5 minutes at most. Love it.

Everything can’t be rainbows and unicorns through right? Of course. You can’t host your email with WPEngine, so you’ll have to find alternative options in that regard. At first I found it a little cumbersome to deal with, but what I’ve learned over the years is that this is actually better. It allows WPEngine to focus on what they do best…host your WordPress site. Take your email to Google Apps or Office 365 where it belongs. It’s much more dependable and easier to manage. Plus most web hosting companies that offer email hosting have terrible user interfaces.

WPEngine is also more expensive than many of the cheap managed wordpress hosting companies. It’s easy to be enticed by the less than $10/month options, but trust me when I say you get what you pay for. If you’re serious about your website, be serious enough to pay a few extra bucks for all of the above. The speed, reliability, ease of use, and lack of headaches you’ll have are worth every penny. I’ve learned that a 1000 times over the past few years.

So end your search, take my word, you won’t be disappointed. And as always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or want to discuss.

Click here to save 20% off your first payment with WP Engine. Use coupon code SUMMERSAVINGS. Expires 8/31/2016.

Introducing Marketima – A marketing career website

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As I’ve gotten older the things I’m interested in writing about have strayed further away from my actual career. My personal blog has become a smorgasbord of topics ranging from tech to lifestyle, and less about marketing. Thus my entrepreneurial itch came storming back, and I felt the need to launch a separate site to be home to all my marketing content. Say hello to Marketima.

Quite simply Marketima is a marketing career website focused on giving marketing professionals a place to find a job, find an agency or read some laser focused content specific to the world of marketing and marketing careers. While we’re just getting started, we already have what I believe to be the most extensive and accurate list of US based marketing and advertising agencies. It was built from scratch, and includes social links and contacts for easy access.

In addition to my contributions, I’ve partnered with another great marketing pro, Alanna Honigman. She brings a more youthful perspective to the mix. Between the two of us, I hope to have plenty of perspectives and topics that reach a wide range of marketing pros regardless of where they are in their career.

We’re just getting started, so forgive the dust as we settle in. For now, give us a look and consider following or subscribing.

Analysis Paralysis. How I Finally Started An Idea 20 Years In The Making.

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Analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome.

A few years after I got out of college and realized that any dream of being in the movie business was all but over, I started to jot down short synopsis of movie ideas I would think of. At the time I didn’t really think about how or what purpose they served, but I wanted to keep track of my ideas. My entire life I’ve always seen life through a movie like lens, so I was always thinking of cool ideas that would make great movies. Unfortunately that’s all I had ever done though…come up with some great ideas. I always felt that maybe someday I’d figure out what to do with those ideas, but in the meantime, they collected digital dust.

There was one particular idea I had that I could never stop thinking about that to this day, I always thought it would be a blockbuster hit, and rarely would a day go by that I did not think about it. 20 years I’ve had that idea. It’s evolved quite a bit of course. As I’ve gotten older, I started to get more serious about doing something with it. At first I thought I’d write a book. Why not? These days you can self-publish, and I could have a tangible accomplishment; something I could sell or give to friends and family to read. But I could never get my head right about how to write it as a book. The biggest problem was, I’m not a big reader. How can someone effectively write a book, that barely likes to read them? I’d research tools, software, strategies, trying to find a way to get me started. Excitement and motivation would come and go, life would get in the way. Progress stifled. Paralyzed by over analysis.

I suppose there’s no set blueprint for how to break through with a big idea. For me it was the combination of years of planning, and a few seeds late in life that put me over the top. The first was courtesy of a completely random conversation with a colleague of mine. While on a video shoot for my company in Nebraska, I and Playfish Media, a film crew I hired for the project (who by the way are fantastic, highly recommended), were driving to our shoot when I felt motivated to share my book idea. Jillian Suleski, the owner, and someone who’s opinion matters on the subject matter, was really taken by the idea which was great. But more importantly she asked me a very important question that as I look back, I realize may very well be the turning point.

Well, when you think of the story in your head, do you see a book or a movie?

Something as simple as that really drove it home for me. I got so caught up on having to write this story as a book. I just felt that made more sense. Self-publishing is at our finger tips. A tangible deliverable I could give to people to read. Screenplays and Hollywood seemed like such a fantasy world to me. Why write a screenplay that would just collect dust? Jillian went on to share how in this day and age, there’s more opportunity then ever when it comes to screenwriters. Pitchfests, contests…not to mention streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon all vying for great concepts and ideas. It’s a different world. I was hooked. Of course I saw my story as a movie in my head. I had to stop denying the path that made sense for me.

My excitement and motivation was at an all time high. So what did I do next? I fell right back into my analysis paralysis. Rather then dive into writing, I researched all the avenues a screenwriter could submit to. I researched how to write a screenplay, how to do it right. Weeks went by, excitement/motivation died down again. Ugh. But this time I was determined to not stay trapped. I knew I was doing this to myself again. I needed help. I needed structure, guidance, and accountability.

We live in a day and age where there is so much opportunity at our fingertips. And for me, the Screenwriters University was exactly what I needed to break through years of non-action. Memorial Day weekend cooped up in the house with the wifey was the last step. She not only thought it was a good idea, she implored that I take it. That was all I needed. I signed up, and hoped that this was the kick in the ass I needed.

I’m a week away from finishing the class, and in the past month, I can’t even believe how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve come. Everything is coming so easy to me now that I honestly think this is something I was born to do. I’m not so naive to think that I may actually sell a screenplay someday, but it won’t come without trying. 21 years ago I turned down going to film school. I think about that day all the time. What if?

But now I’ve got a second chance. A second chance at the very least to accomplish something I’ve waited a long time to do. Write my movie. I’ve broken free and I’m off and running now. And if I can do it, anyone can. Whatever your passion, gift or bucket list item is, never stop trying to figure out how to make it happen. Don’t let the details paralyze you from action like it did me for so long.

Coming soon to a theater near you (be sure to hit play on my trailer music as you read the synopsis!)

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Are You Prepared To Be Laid Off? 5 Things You Need To Do Right Now So You Are.

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You’re going to be laid off. There’s a damn good chance of that happening. Are you prepared to deal with it?

In my daily perusing of news and entertainment, I stumbled across this article about what one particular woman wished she knew before being laid off. While it’s a relatively interesting piece about one woman’s experience with being let go after a long tenure, I couldn’t help but feel like it lacked any true call to action for people that experience this. Having been a victim of this numerous times, it sparked my desire to crawl out of my blogging cave with the motivation to write a helpful piece so you can avoid the mistakes I made.

  1. Clean Up Your Social. You think HR and recruiting folks are just looking at your cover letter and resume these days? Fat chance. They’re social stalking you, and every post you’ve put out there is fair game. If your Facebook story says anything you’re sketchy about, make sure your privacy settings are where they need to be, and I’d keep the raunchy stuff off of other channels like Twitter or Instagram that are much more public domain. Yes, you have freedom of speech, but not freedom of consequences. It matters.
  2. Up Your LinkedIn Game. I’m still amazed at how many people don’t have their profiles fully fleshed out and up to date. Recruiters are always perusing LinkedIn for candidates, so regardless of how happy or content you are with your current role, keep your profile up to date. Post interesting things. Interact in groups that are relevant to your industry. And if you can afford the extra few bucks a month, go Pro for even more visibility.
  3. Have A Blog. This is the #1 thing I ever did in my career. By starting and contributing to a blog throughout my career, it gave potential employers a deeper window into my background, knowledge, and what makes me tick. You don’t have to be a great writer, just have something entertaining or useful to say. Everyone has something they are good at or knowledgeable of. Find out what’s yours, and easily sign up for a free blog at WordPress or Medium and get crackin.
  4. Always Be Looking. You’re not safe…period. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how smart you are, or how loved you think you may be. You’re a commodity, and commodities are expendable. It can be a financial decision. It can be new management coming in and they want their own people. There are a hundred reasons you can get laid off, and most of them you won’t see coming or think of. Always be looking. That doesn’t mean you’re going to leave, or you’re being disloyal. It means you’re being prepared so that when it does happen, you’ll be better prepared to deal with it. And what’s the worst thing that could happen otherwise? You find an even better opportunity?
  5. Diversify Your Income. This one is a bit trickier, but if you have a hobby, or a manageable side business, a great way to lesson the blow is to have some sort of income stream outside your normal job. This way when the hammer comes down, you have something to help bridge the gap. We live in a world where starting a business is easier than ever, especially with the tools available to you online.

Be prepared for the worst. Shit happens, and if you do any combination of the above, you’ll be much more prepared than I ever was to deal with it.