Announcing Liveplan’s Supercharged Business Dashboard

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Editor’s note: Since publication of this update, our Scoreboard feature has undergone a change, and we now call it the Dashboard.  

This month’s product update, which just went live today, delivers a major expansion of LivePlan’s Dashboard feature for ongoing financial management.

For those of you not using it already, the Dashboard is a powerful tool that helps you track your progress, identify and correct problems, keep your plan alive during the all-important execution phase, and intelligently adjust your plan to stay on course as your business evolves and grows.

With the original Dashboard, you could track half a dozen important financials metrics at a high level. Now you can see more information on the most important metrics, with easy-to-digest graphs that track progress, and the ability to drill down deeper into the numbers to better understand your company’s actual performance.

How is your business doing?

That’s the most important question in ongoing planning. The new Dashboard makes it easier than ever to find out at a glance. The redesigned overview shows you the big picture right away. How is this month going? Are sales and expenses on track? How did you do last month? How are your overall numbers for the current fiscal year to date? See all of this information—and how it compares to your plan—on the overview. Then click anywhere to drill down and see the details.

Are you on pace for this month?

When it’s the middle of the month, you need to see how your actual results are progressing toward your goal. Are you on pace? That requires a different view than previous periods do. It’s not a matter of comparing half a month to the planned values for the whole month.

Instead, the new current-month trend views use thermometer bars to show how close you are to your goal—and how that compares to where you’d expect to be at this point in the month. You can see this view for sales, expenses, and direct costs—basically, any metrics that accrue toward a goal.

Are you outperforming the past?

The Dashboard has always shown how your actual results compare to your plan. Other comparisons are useful for ongoing management too, though.

In our business, we always look at three comparison points:

  • Actuals vs. Plan: Are you meeting or beating the plan? If not, you probably need to either change what you’re doing to achieve better results or adjust your plan to reflect updated assumptions and give you achievable targets.
  • Actuals vs. Previous Period: How did your latest month (or quarter) compare to the previous one? Are you picking up steam?
  • Actuals vs. Same Time in Previous Year: How did your latest month (or quarter) compare to the same month (or quarter) last year? That’s important because most businesses have a strong element of seasonality. Comparing, say, January to December may show a big difference because of the holiday effect at the end of the year. Looking at this January against last January, though, cancels out that effect and may give you a better view of your real growth.

Expanded manual entry option

The easiest way to use the Dashboard is still to connect to your accounting software—QuickBooks or Xero. We plan to integrate with other solutions soon, though, so if you’re interested in that, please drop us a note and tell us what you are using. More requests means faster action.

If you don’t have a QuickBooks or Xero account to sync to, it only takes a few minutes to periodically (or even daily) enter your actual results. The updated entry view makes it quick and easy to plug in your values —no matter what system they are coming from.

Any questions?

Our whole team is super eager to hear your thoughts on the revamped Dashboard. To share your feedback, just click the Contact Us button at the top of the app. Let us know what you like, what could be better, and where you think we should go next. We’re listening. 🙂

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Josh Cochrane
Josh Cochrane
Josh Cochrane is Vice President of Product Development at Palo Alto Software, where he manages development of the business planning tool LivePlan. He writes for this site and elsewhere on product design, small business and entrepreneurship, and related topics.
Posted in LivePlan Updates

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