Why you need an Excel dashboard

Why you need an Excel dashboard

Dashboards have the ability to give you unheard of insights into your work. You are able to obtain quick, visual status updates on the various assignments you may be undertaking. You are also able to

You can get a quick, visual status update on your projects or drill down into important details, all in one place. Dashboards can boost your organization’s speed by allowing you and your team to see more, manage more, and communicate more.

Before we delve deeper into this conversation, let us define what a dashboard is.

What is a dashboard?

A dashboard comprises of tables, charts, gauges and numbers and can be used for various purposes across various sectors.

Dashboards track key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics, and other data points in one visual, central place. They give you an in-depth view of work, encourage quick decision making and keep everyone up to date. The visual nature of dashboards simplifies complex data and gives a comprehensive overview of your organization’s current position or performance in real time.

Things to consider before creating a dashboard

It is important to pinpoint the reasons why you need a dashboard. You will need to think about the purpose it will serve, the data sources as well as what you require and what is surplus to requirements.

You will specifically need to ask yourself the following questions:

Why are you creating it? Is this dashboard for a specific task, like showing status of a project, or does it need to achieve a broader goal, like measuring business performance? Understanding why you are building the dashboard will help guide the design and data.

Do you need to track certain KPIs? Your dashboard should only highlight data that adds value. It is important to understand the most important KPIs and create the dashboard around those metrics. Anything outside those main KPIs aren’t necessary.

Who needs to see it? Is this for workmates, middle management, stakeholders, external vendors, or C-level executives? How do these people digest information? How much time do they have to look at this dashboard? Think about who you’re making the dashboard for and keep their preferences in mind.

What are your data sources? Do you need to manually import data into your dashboard or will you use an integrator or connector to automatically sync and refresh data? What other tools do you use to gather data?

How current does it need to be? Can you update your dashboard weekly or monthly, or does it always need to show real-time, updated information? Depending on what you chose, this will change the way you build your dashboard.

What format does it need to be in? Are you emailing a static dashboard or giving a link to a dynamic one? Does it need to be embedded in presentations or decks? Do you want to share read-only access or do you want to provide editing capabilities to certain people?

And once you are through with the dashboard building process, you will need to take into consideration a few do’s and don’ts.

Keep it straight and simple (KISS): A simple dashboard is much more effective than a “pretty” dashboard as it is easy to understand. Resist the temptation to add 3D effects, gradients, extra shapes, and other bells and whistles. Go for simple formats such as magazine formatting.

Use freeze panes:  The ease of navigating dashboards can be made easier through the use of freeze panes. You can freeze all your rows to enable viewers see your whole dashboard without scrolling. You can also freeze headings in the top rows so that the headings are visible, even when you scroll down the dashboard.

Also Read: Make your data tell a story

Add alerts for important information: If you want to highlight a certain aspect of your dashboard or quickly convey status, add alerts (or red, yellow, green balls). You can use these traffic light symbols with conditional formatting, so they automatically update based on the values in your table.

Use shapes and charts together: The layout of your dashboard can get repetitive if you have multiple charts all in the same box layout. You can add visual interest and hierarchy to your dashboard by inserting a shape (like a rectangle, circle, triangle) and then putting your chart on top of that shape.

Also Read: Transform bland and boring reports using dashboards

 Use different tabs: Keep your dashboard organized by using different sheets for different things. For example, one tab will hold the dashboard itself and another tab will hold the raw data that populates the dashboard.

In conclusion

Dashboards are extremely helpful in gaining insights into the most important aspects of organizational and/or industry related data. They get real time insights and competitive analysis, and use them to identify items that require urgent action, streamlining work processes and properly allocating and assigning resources.

You too can further your knowledge in dashboard reporting by signing up here https://bit.ly/2SM28Qp  for our advanced analysis and visualization course in Excel taking place from 24th to 26th April at the Strathmore University.