Top Tips for Your End-of-Year Visual KPI Reporting
As the year draws to a close in some sectors (such as the education sector), it’s time for businesses to shift their focus towards one critical aspect: end-of-year financial reporting. Whether you’re a finance professional or department manager, the end of the year is a pivotal moment for reflecting on your performance (and setting the stage for the next year ahead). Here are ten essential tips to ensure your reporting process goes smoothly:
Prioritise Data Accuracy: Accuracy is paramount. Double-check data sources and calculations to eliminate errors that can lead to misleading insights.
Define Success and Failure
KPI’s and targets are a huge part of any financial reporting, and a crucial piece of data that is often missed or overlooked is target values. Target values are the definition of success or failure that are primarily discussed and finalised at a business level, but it does not always get transferred into data points for reporting. Regardless of what value type is being used (i.e., currency, percentage) for your reporting to be effective, you need to visually compare EOFY results to KPI’s and target values.
Tell a story
Storytelling is an important topic when we talk about data visualisation; for your New financial year KPI or EOFY reporting, tell your data story across multiple report pages. Be sure to have a data theme or purpose for each page – like a chapter in a non-fiction book! Cramming lots of visuals onto one page is hard to read due to the volume and because we often see visualisations with different themes grouped together. In this scenario, consumers may struggle to identify information within the report. Consider the information you are trying to convey to your consumers and the way they may view or read each report page. For further information about data storytelling, see Expose’s blog post.
Be selective with your visuals
While tables and matrixes are useful visuals it can be difficult for people to interpret multiple rows of data quickly, instead opt for visualisations like graphs, gauges, and cards where report consumers can easily see trends or if KPI’s have been reached. Providing visual indicators of success or failure reduces the mental overhead your report consumers require.
Less is more.
Like using tables and matrixes, having too many visuals on a page can be overwhelming for consumers and reports may suffer performance issues when there are too many things to load. A great trick for this is to take a step or two back from the screen you’re working from to see how easy it is to interpret, or if you’re going to be presenting, put it up on a projector or meeting room screen and try viewing it from the back of the room. You could even ask a team member to look for you (even after years of report building, I still get people to sanity-check my reports!).
Time-based reporting is crucial for most businesses, and while most reporting software will have date tables built in, it’s not always the best fit for reporting. Adding a date table is incredibly helpful and often considered best practice. Access to a date table will help properly display any linear graphs with missing dates and make it easy to create monthly, quarterly, and yearly data measures. Work with your data team to build a date table that fits reporting needs or create one yourself – we recommend making the date table accessible for report builders so it can be reused and will be consistent across the business.
Make sure you create the relationship between the date tables and data tables you are reporting on.
Include comparisons to previous years to provide context and reveal trends. Highlight growth areas and areas that require attention.
Use more than colour to convey meaning
Consider using meaningful icons or target bars to indicate success or failure to meet KPIs in conjunction with traffic light colours. This one is important for accessibility, as protanopes and deuteranopes struggle with perceiving red and green light and are the most diagnosed types of colour blindness. For more information on types of colour blindness, please refer to Colour Blind Awareness.
Add flavour with accessible colour palettes
Continuing along the lines of accessibility, Reporting software will often provide you with colour palette options, not all of these will be colour-blind friendly (though some have accessibility-specific palettes!). If you want to create your colour palette, there are several generators online that will allow you to view your colour choices through colour blind filters, it is good when using these to check contrast between colours so they can be differentiated within the report. (Coolors is a good example of this)
Use vibrant colours sparingly
Be mindful of your colour selections on your visuals. Super vibrant colours can cause headaches and eye strain, more so for people with light sensitivity – these colours can still be useful for grabbing attention but use them sparingly and ensure that they’re not overlapping or adjacent as it will decrease readability. Contrast variation between colours also helps with making your palette more accessible.
Include Non-Financial Metrics
Don’t limit KPI reporting to financial metrics alone. Incorporate non-financial KPIs such as customer satisfaction or employee engagement to get a holistic view of performance.
Share your visual KPI reports with relevant stakeholders and encourage discussions. Their insights can provide valuable perspectives and drive improvements.