We all love having access to insightful reporting dashboards in business. In the right hands, they show us where the business is thriving, which areas are struggling, and if we’re on track to reach our goals.
However, creating dashboards can take a lot of time. In addition to the learning curve involved in understanding what data to collect and how to collect it, compiling up-to-date, accurate, and meaningful data takes time and effort.
Because of this, reporting is one of the most beneficial areas of your business to automate.
Automated reporting workflows do not have to be complicated to implement.
Learn how to automate your business’s reporting workflow for dashboards that are continuously updated, without lifting a finger.
Reporting Workflows: Pros and Cons, and the Ugly
You know that you need good data reporting in your business. What does this look like?
Check out the characteristics below and see how your business’s data workflows are currently performing.
To identify the best reporting workflows, look for:
clear tracking of the most important KPIs, without clutter or vanity metrics
An automated dashboard that your team can access from any device
Updated data that does not require manual, time-consuming, and error-prone imports and exports
In contrast, reporting workflows in need of optimization and automation look like this:
Workflows that rely on you (or anyone else) to trigger updates
Uncertainty regarding the accuracy of data in your business reports
Siloed reports that can only be accessed by certain people
The following are the things to avoid if you want to save time, improve data accuracy, and fix efficiency leaks:
Importing and exporting data manually between apps, or copying and pasting data between presentation slides and spreadsheets
Dashboards that are out of date or overly complicated and fail to provide any real value, or lack any clear data
The data on your dashboards is inaccurate
We Pick the Best Options for Automated Reports
What can you do to make your reporting more effective and less ugly? Below are some of the best ways to automate your reporting and create insightful dashboards with the most relevant and up-to-date KPIs:
Built-in reporting for your CRM and key apps
Built-in reporting for your CRM and key business apps
There are many CRM options on the market with excellent reporting capabilities. Many also offer native integrations with other key apps.
HubSpot, for example, connects to Google Analytics to enrich your CRM data. This allows you to display website engagement metrics alongside lead and customer information.
Check your CRM's capability to create up-to-date dashboards that share your business's key data as a simple solution for automated reporting.
Tips: For the most accurate and enriched data insights in your CRM, sync it with your other business apps that collect data in two ways.
Google Analytics provides a simple, yet robust framework for automating website engagement and conversion reporting.
Start by optimizing the data you're collecting. Be sure the tracking code is properly added to your website, and consider setting up Events to track the conversions that matter to your business, such as eCommerce transactions or visitors landing on your sign-up confirmation page.
Then you can add these key metrics to your dashboard as custom widgets and choose how to display them. You can use custom dashboards to tailor your reporting for the best overview, taking into account the most important KPIs for your team.
You might also want to create a simple process for sharing or exporting your dashboard, such as with a link that anyone in your team can use without logging into Google Analytics. Alternatively, you could automate Slack notifications that share the GA dashboard every week.
Using Google Sheets for automating your data reporting is a very simple yet effective solution.
Google Sheets can be used for automated reporting by enabling the Google Analytics add-on and automatically pulling data in.
An example of a report that is straightforward to create in Google Sheets using Google Analytics data is as follows:
You can set your reports to update automatically (and avoid having to click "refresh" to bring in the new data from Google Analytics) by selecting Add-ons > Google Analytics > Schedule Reports from the menu bar.
Another great option for automated reports in Google Sheets is the Supermetrics integration with Google Sheets which allows you to connect data from your non-Google business apps as well.
Tip: If you use Google Slides to present business meetings and reports, you can automatically sync charts and data views from Google Sheets with Slides (and Docs) to avoid manual copying and pasting before every meeting.
Google Data Studio
You can connect, visualize, and share your business data using Google Data Studio. Setting it up is fairly straightforward, but there are lots of possibilities for customization and complexity if that's what you're looking for. You can:
Using built-in and partner connectors, you can access data from the apps you use every day. Google Analytics, Sheets, and Ads, as well as partner apps such as Copper, Mailchimp, or Facebook Ads, are built into the 500+ data sets.
Easily visualize your data with interactive reports, charts, and dashboards.
With public visibility, you can share your reports and dashboards with individuals, teams, or the world. Google Data Studio reports can also be embedded on any website.
Start by choosing which data sources you want to connect to Google Data Studio:
Decide how you want to visualize and share your reports.
Using Supermetrics, you can track all your marketing metrics in one place, including PPC, SEO, social, and web analytics.
Together with these tools, you can bring all of your marketing data insights directly to each platform with Supermetrics:
As an example, here is a report using Supermetrics data in Google Sheets:
Reporting Best Practices
You can achieve the best results by following a few best practices when automating your business reporting workflows, regardless of the tools and processes you use.
Focus on these three goals when automating your reporting workflow:
Simplicity: Often, the most effective reporting workflows and dashboards are the simplest. What data is most valuable to your business? Make sure the data is automatically updated, accurate, and easily accessible, and focus on a few KPIs.
Accessibility: Avoid silos in your reporting. Your team members should be able to easily access the data they need to track performance and do their best work, such as through a public dashboard pinned in a Slack channel.
Data accuracy: If the data in your source apps is inaccurate, even the best automated reporting workflow will fail. Using an iPaaS, you can instantly sync data between your apps using conditional rules after cleaning up your databases.