I spent the last eleven years or so as a SaaS CEO — growing from $1M in ARR to $10M+. I’ve always been data-driven, but when I discovered live dashboards, it changed my day-to-day life. Metrics are important, but access to and visualization of key data are much harder to come by. So here’s the anatomy of my SaaS CEO dashboard.
CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost)
LTV (Lifetime Value)
Gross & Net Churn
New Contract Value
Customer Growth Potential
Growth-Focused SaaS CEO Dashboard
Different companies have different priorities. My CEO dashboard was growth focused because that was our stage and objective. Important things like gross margin and expenses didn’t make it to my dashboard, because they weren’t current challenges. At our stage, we managed to percents of revenue for most of that and were highly predictable in the P&L.
In addition to the income statement exclusions, I also didn’t surface cash flow or balance sheet items to my CEO dashboard. Again, those were tightly watched, but not on a daily basis as they were also predictable and stable.
Another candidate that makes it onto many a CEO dashboard, but not this one, is ARPU (average revenue per unit). Again, in my case
I’d recommend limiting your metrics to ten or fewer; including only those metrics that have significant volatility or variability; and only ones that align with current goals and initiatives. You don’t need a dashboard to watch paint dry.
A Note on Execution — Dashboard Tech
We liked our dashboards. In addition to my CEO dashboard, the leadership team had one, and there was one for almost every department. Links to them were posted in department-specific Slack channels and TVs showed them all over the office. I’m partial to Geckoboard for low-overhead business dashboarding. And I like Enplug for the TV/digital signage piece to reliably show those dashboards all over far-flung offices. There’s nothing worse than a black screen where there’s supposed to be insightful, motivational data.
And a (Hopefully Obvious) Disclaimer
All of these gauges are examples, not actual data on my company or any other.