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Follow our 5 steps for building procurement dashboards

Why build procurement dashboards? If you spend a lot of your time looking at reports and trying to make sense of the information you get from different sources such as excel spreadsheets, ERP systems, accounting software, databases and manual forms then you could benefit from building procurement dashboards.

A dashboard should contain a snapshot and summary of key information about your transactions in visual form that enables you to get an instant impression of how you are performing. Your dream dashboard will enable you to assess your KPIs at a glance and will make it easier for you to make decisions.

But just how easy is it to build a dashboard and what do you need to consider?

STEP 1Identify your key information requirements for your procurement dashboards

Start by considering what your procurement dashboards need to contain. Brainstorm and think big, imagine what information you could have in an ideal world, then prioritise what the most important information is to you. Here are a few ideas for your list:

  • Ability to select date ranges
  • Summary of KPIs – total spend, total orders, average order value
  • Line chart showing no of orders to date for given time period
  • Line chart showing supplier orders for a given time period
  • Timelines mapping supplier order volume against spend for a given time period
  • Pie chart showing spend by buyer
  • Pie chart showing spend by supplier
  • Pie chart showing spend by product

Using charts is the best way to visually capture and summarise complex data in a way that can be quickly understood.

STEP 2Choose your reporting tools

Next, you need to consider which tools you will use to produce your procurement dashboards. First, you need to look at where your transactional data is currently held.

The ideal way to produce your dashboard would be to use the data directly from the place where your orders are processed such as your transactional platform, order processing system or spend management platform. If you have a spend management platform that already allows you to produce dashboards then this would be ideal.

The advantages of tying the reporting to a transaction systems that captures accurate and up to date data is that it allows you to access a dynamic real time dashboard with information that is accurate, up to date and obtained directly from the source. As the reporting is linked to the source data it is easier to drill down to the order level to troubleshoot and solve problems.

Alternatively you may need to integrate your system with third party tools. Popular data warehouse tools such as Blackbaud enable you to plug reporting tools into your existing systems to create a dashboard. This method can be useful to produce one-off static reports for a meeting or paper. But disadvantages are that they can be cumbersome to set up and use, the data is not usually synced in real time and these systems often lack dynamic flexibility.

The traditional way to produce reports is using tools like Excel or databases like Access. The advantage of Excel is that it is usually cheap and easy to put together an initial report. However, this approach can be quite manual in nature so it can be difficult to ensure the data is accurate, it might be difficult to maintain, hard to manage securely and prove limiting and inflexible in the long term.

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Example of report dashboards available from Claritum’s Spend Management Platform

STEP 3Ensure accuracy of transactional data

The next step is to ensure you obtain the most reliable data. If you are collating data from different sources to produce your procurement dashboards then you will need to ensure that the data is accurate. It can be challenging to produce accurate data if you are relying on manual sources or manual input of information.

Ensure that you build checks and balances into your reporting to double check the accuracy of your dashboard.

STEP 4Timings and Level of Detail

Next you should decide what level of sophistication you require from your procurement dashboards. A basic dashboard should contain at the very least top level information, such as numbers of sales and purchases, broken down on a monthly or quarterly basis. This can often be a good place to start.

A more extensive approach would be to develop a flexible and dynamic dashboard that will enable you to select reports over any time period you require and then drill down from the top level information to a detailed individual transaction level view. This approach future proofs your reporting ensuring that you will be able to adapt your reports as the business changes and grows.

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Example of pie chart procurement dashboards available from Claritum’s Spend Management Platform

STEP 5Access Level and Sharing

Finally, consider who the procurement dashboards are for and how the report will be shared in the organisation. Typically senior members of staff may require a top level financial summary information whilst other employees in the business may need to drill down to a more detailed level in order to troubleshoot problems with the transactional data.

Try to build flexibility into the dashboard at the outset as report requirements may vary among individuals in the business and will change over time. The more dynamic and up to date your dashboard is, the more useful a business tool it will become.

If your dashboard is to be a static report produced on a monthly basis then you may need to create different versions for users within the business that require different levels of information.

If your dashboard is going to be a more dynamic and flexible tool then you could consider setting up different dashboards with different access levels for particular users.

To maximise security, look for a cloud based system that can establish different access levels for different employees within the organisation.

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