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3 Types of Financial Dashboards for More Strategic Decision Making

Joseph Garafalo
Posted on
March 2, 2021
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The average financial dashboard isn’t nearly as useful as it should be. You don’t just need a pretty way to visualize last quarter’s numbers—you need something that gives real-time insight into both the numbers and the stories behind them. Check out three types of financial dashboards that can help the entire business (not just finance) make more informed strategic decisions.

The average financial dashboard might look pretty. But more often than not, it’s not nearly as useful as it should be.

The problem is that financial dashboards make everyone feel like they’re running the business effectively—when in reality, they’re stuck in an inefficient, siloed cycle with the numbers.

While sales and FP&A use their dashboards to look ahead, accounting is tracking many of the same metrics to look backwards. And even though you have an executive dashboard that tries to bring the two together, you still aren’t basing business decisions on real-time insight into your financial numbers.

The answer isn’t to add more financial dashboards to fill the gaps. It’s to give finance a better way to pull data from its many sources and distill the numbers in a way that the entire business can understand. Your dashboards can’t just present numbers on a screen—they need to highlight the story and insights behind the numbers to enable more strategic, real-time decision-making.

Turning the following three critical financial dashboards into canvases with Mosaic will help you go beyond historical context and use real-time data to make finance more collaborative and strategic.

1. Sales & Marketing Financial Dashboard

A good sales and marketing financial dashboard gives the leaders in those departments insight into critical key performance indicators (KPIs) that drive strategic, forward-looking decision-making.

These teams are likely already using out-of-the-box reporting with tools like Salesforce and HubSpot to monitor some key financial KPIs. But the financial data available in those tools is incomplete.

For example, a CRM and marketing platform might calculate customer acquisition cost (CAC) on a high level with basic campaign spending and customer counts. But what about data on advertising spend, and software costs that live in the ERP? Or the data on salaries and commissions that lives in your HR system?

Without deeper financial context, sales and marketing leaders can’t solve tough strategic challenges. They’ll see that the pipeline changed, but they won’t know why. They’ll see they’re behind on next quarter’s revenue goals but won’t know how many reps they’ll need to catch up or how long it will take those new reps to ramp before they can contribute in a meaningful way.

It’s finance’s job to give sales and marketing the complete picture. Give them the information they need to set goals accurately and plan the headcount to hit their numbers. This sales and marketing financial dashboard example helps you do that.

The 11 metrics that make up this sales and marketing dashboard are:

  • Opportunities Created: Total number of deals created in the CRM over a given period of time
  • Sales Cycle: Average number of days between deal creation and close date
  • Deal Conversion Rates: % of opportunities which convert to closed-won deals
  • Average Selling Price: Average booking amount per deal
  • Sales Rep Ramp: The amount of time it takes the average sales rep to start closing deals
  • Annual Contract Value (ACV): The annual value of bookings from a given period (e.g., a two-year $200k booking has an ACV of $100k)
  • Bookings: The total contract amount for all signed deals in a given period
  • Customer Count: Total number of active customers at the end of a given period
  • CAC: All sales and marketing costs in a period divided by the total number of new customer starts in that same period
  • Pipeline: Total amount of closed-won or open deals in the current period
  • Revenue Retention: The percentage of net revenue retained broken out by ARR or MRR

2. Financial Performance Dashboard

Finance teams need a dedicated dashboard that helps them quickly identify operational issues and pinpoint exactly how to solve them, freeing up time for more strategic tasks.

The value of a financial performance dashboard comes from giving operational finance functions an at-a-glance view of the numbers and action items as they close the books.

Normally, the end of each month comes with the same cycle of investigation. The previous month’s numbers come in, finance reviews for anomalies in the data, and then manually identifies and resolves any operational issues. For example, you might notice that cash out is unusually low compared to the previous month. You’ll need to dig into your spreadsheets to figure out which bills you haven’t paid and adjust the numbers once you’ve sent out the checks.

A better financial performance dashboard doesn’t just highlight the numbers—it surfaces the action items you need to investigate to maintain the company’s financial health.

Building a financial performance dashboard like this example in a Mosaic canvas reduces the amount of time you spend investigating operational issues.

The 10 financial performance metrics that make up this dashboard are:

  • Cash In/Cash Out: Net cash flow (cash in less cash out) during a given period
  • Gross Profit: Profitability calculated by revenue less cost of revenue
  • Gross Margin: Gross profit divided by total revenue
  • Expense Composition: Total expenses broken down by percentage across key categories
  • Operating Income: Total income less operating expenses like wages and cost of goods sold (COGS)
  • Accounts Receivable (AR) Aging: Current amount of open invoices based on aging bucket
  • Accounts Payable (AP) Aging: Current amount of open bills based on days since the bill date
  • Billings: Total amount of invoices less credit memos for a given period
  • Collections: Total amount of customer payments for a given period

3. Executive Financial Dashboard

The right dashboard can help CFOs and their teams assume a more strategic advisory role for the business.

Traditional, backward-looking finance functions haven’t been able to play this part. They’ve been too bogged down in past numbers to give executives at-a-glance insights into big-picture financial data that can drive strategic decision-making.

When executives have real-time insight into financial metrics, they can speed up the board deck prep process and unlock the strategic value of board members. And they can make more informed decisions about things like the product roadmap, pricing changes, and resource allocation.

This executive financial dashboard example gives a SaaS C-suite all the information they need to make better strategic decisions. It overlaps a bit with your financial performance dashboard, but it cuts out the strictly operational metrics that executives don’t need.

The nine metrics that make up this executive dashboard are:

  • CAC: All sales and marketing costs in a period divided by the total number of new customer starts in that same period
  • Magic Number: An efficiency metric measuring ARR for a given period against the prior period’s CAC.
  • Rule of 40: The revenue growth percentage plus profit margin percentage
  • Customer Lifetime Value: The average amount of money expected over the life of a customer’s relationship with your business
  • Revenue Retention: The percentage of net revenue retained broken out by ARR or MRR
  • Runway: The number of months until the cash balance is $0 at the current net burn rate
  • Net Burn: Cash flow from operations (cash in less cash out) over a given period, excluding bank transfers and financing transactions
  • Cash Balance: Total balance of “cash equivalent” accounts at the end of each period
  • Recurring Revenue: Total amount of recurring revenue for a given period presented as either ARR, MRR, or annualized MRR

Want Better Collaboration? Don’t Build Finance Dashboards. Make Canvases.

The average financial dashboard—even a powerful one built with a BI tool—is a poor collaboration tool. It surfaces the numbers but fails to bring other business stakeholders into the financial conversation.

Mosaic’s canvas solves this problem. It’s part dashboard, part living document, letting you easily create, monitor, and share the right financial information with the right people at the right time.

Mosaic canvases do more than just give you a basic visualization of your financial data. They’re interactive sandboxes for collaboration, allowing anyone in the business to drag-and-drop charts and graphs, update scenario planning to see the financial impact in real time, and add context to the numbers with text comments.

A collaborative finance function is one that can clearly tell the story behind financial data to anyone in the business. That level of clarity is critical to strategic decision-making. And it’s why Mosaic canvases are the future of financial dashboards.

Want to see how easy it is to analyze and collaborate on financial numbers in Mosaic? Request access and start creating canvases based on real-time financial data.

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