Simple and Elegant Dashboards with Excel

Best Practice for Developing dashboards with Microsoft Excel

Here is the problem statement

Your boss just assigned you to build a fancy dashboard with all the Pie and bar charts showing “Gross Revenue for past 12 months”, “Cost of Goods for past 12 months” and “Net Proft for past 12 months”.

The problem is all of the information is scattered in multiple Excel files and some information is stored in the MS Access database.

Here are the possible actions you could take

  1. Export data from Access to Excel, Write macros, link worksheets, write formulas and do all sort of Excel Magic work and build charts in another worksheet
  2. Get some pre-built Excel Templates, manually type in the numbers into the templates, the templates will then spit out the charts in a pseudo dashboard format

The first option is for the dare devil who is a true Excel Ninja and expert with writing Excel Macros. But the Ninja does not realize that you will end up with the following.

Bloated Excel Files – Macros – Lost Productivity

  • Big Bulky and bloated excel files
  • Undocumented Macros
  • Zero verification on the data authencity
  • No way to refresh the dashboard (lost productivity)

The second option involves manual data input and does not fit the Best Reporting and Dashboard Practice or Methods

Seperate Data and Presentation layers

One of the recommended approach is to always keep the Data and Presentation layers. The above two solutions terribly violate this rule by having the Data and the Charts sitting in the same Excel File.

So what is the best approach for building Dashboards with excel ?

Modular Design – Keep Data and Presentation Separate

  • Create a separate presentation layer
  • Connect to the Excel or Access data files
  • Visually Build the Tables and Charts
  • Link the Tables and Chart to Common Parameters
  • Now you have a presentation layer complete with drop down parameters, drillable charts and tables

Benefits of this approach

  • Your dashboard or presenation layer is independent – Dashboard definition is stored separately
  • Increased productivity – When you have fresh data just refresh the dashboard, no redevelopment needed
  • No Messy Excel Macros or coding knowledge required – Just drag and drop tables and visually build Tables, Charts, Speedometer, Gauges, Dials, Thermometers and more charts
  • Simplified Distribution and Presentation – You can Export the Dashboard to PDF or HTML and just send them as attachments
  • Save Time - Just build the dashboard presentation layer only once and automate the refreshes.

Excel Dashboard Designer is one such tool that will allow you to build Dashboards using the best practice method.

  • You can Auto-refresh the dashboard
  • Zero Coding - Visual Development
  • Create variety of charts like Pie, Bar, Speedometer, Dials, Thermometers, Line, Bubbles and much more
  • One click Export to PDF and HTML
  • Centralized distribution of Dashboards

Once you adopt this method of creating the dashboards, you will definitely fall in love with the approach and wished you knew this before.

You can now get this Excel Dashboard Designer for only $47

Excel Dashboard

  • Desktop Based
  • Create unlimited Dashboards
  • Modify any dashboard
  • View any Dashboard
  • 1 Developer License per named user
  • Work with any and unlimited Excel Files
  • 10 Additional Viewing licenses per named user

What do you get for $47

  • Empowers you to build unlimited Dashboards
  • Build Dashboards that provide value for your Business or Organization
  • Build Drills and granular reports for data analysis
  • Total control over each Dashboard Element

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  • Publish to Static HTML document

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