Dashboards are powerful data tools used to give business insights to key decision makers. Excel dashboards offer an efficient and effective way to visualize data and generate meaningful reports. This post will provide technical tactics for efficiently developing Excel dashboards that will be invaluable to data professionals, project managers, and business analysts.

What is an Excel Dashboard?

An Excel dashboard is a visually appealing, information-packed data presentation that provides a quick overview of the performance of a business or project. An Excel dashboard is an additional sheet added to a workbook, which provides a conformable platform for visualizing varied key performance indicators (KPIs) of an organization. It highlights significant trends, opportunities and challenges, so the viewer can instantly analyze a snapshot of the current performance of a business.

Different Types of Excel Dashboards

Excel dashboards can contain a variety of data execution tools, depending on the complexity of the data and the goals of the dashboard. Common types of Excel dashboards are as follows:

  • Single dashboard – Displays mainly KPIs.
  • Analytic dashboard – Allows data exploration through calculated metrics and filter options.
  • Operational dashboard – Offers a detailed view of KPIs in an organized way.
  • Interactive dashboard – Interactive data selection and graphical representation.

Benefits of Creating and Using an Excel Dashboard

Creating and using Excel dashboards can bring numerous advantages to every business. Dashboards display data effectively, enabling decision makers to instantly identify trends, outliers, inefficiencies, and potential issues. This can lead to faster decisions, improved operational performance, and validated choices that align with the company's strategy.

Excel dashboard also offer enhanced accuracy, as automated systems make sure data entry is done properly. By displaying the most critical information in an intuitive and visualize way, Excel dashboards helps users maximize value from data and promotes agility in responding to different changes.

Gather Data from Reliable Sources

A key factor in creating an efficient Excel dashboard is to gather data from reliable sources. Data has to be relevant, accurate, and free from any bias. There are several steps one can take to get the necessary data and make sure it is of good quality.

Research Accessible Data Sources

The first step towards efficient data gathering is to research available data sources suited for a given project. Look for sources that are not time-consuming but still have the necessary information. Ultimately, this step will help save time during the organization process.

Create a Comprehensive Data Checklist

The next step is to make a list of the required data according to the project’s needs. Creating this list beforehand will help clarify the project requirements and ultimately help gather the necessary data.

Confirm Accuracy and Completeness of Data Sources

Once the data is gathered, check that the data sources are accurate and complete. This will ensure that the collected data is precise and aligned with the project requirements.

Use Metadata to Organize and Gain Better Understanding of Data

Metadata comes with a lot of data and provides important additional information. It can be used to better understand the data, as well as to improve the organization of data. This will make the data preparation process easier and more efficient.

Develop a Storytelling Narrative

Storytelling narrative is an effective way to make a long-lasting impact when presenting a dashboard. Developing a narrative helps to explain the results, tell the story, and brings perspective to the results. Here are some tactics to help you most efficiently develop a storytelling narrative:

Develop a Narrative to Explain the Results

Creating a narrative does not necessarily mean a written narrative or story. It can be composed of visuals, descriptive text, and a timeline or progression of events, with labels to help explain each data point. The narrative should tell the story behind the dashboard, making sure that the metrics are clearly labeled and their meaning is easily understandable. Try to avoid displaying too much data, as it can be overwhelming. To help make sure the message is easily understood, only display the most relevant and useful data.

Utilize the Data to Tell the Story

To tell a story, the right data needs to be portrayed. Firstly, the data should be grouped into categories to allow the reader to identify trends and relationships between the points. Data should be filtered, so that it only contains relevant information. Any outliers should also be taken into consideration, to provide a better understanding of the patterns in the data.

Utilize Visuals to Bring Perspective to the Story

The visuals should elaborate on the story, to present a more vivid view of the results. Utilize visuals such as bar or line graphs, or a picture to add clarity to the data. If the data set is complex, consider using a pie chart or table to display the key takeaways easier and more quickly from the data.

Simplify the Visuals to More Effectively Convey the Message

Eliminate any unnecessary visuals to make sure that the message can be easily understood. To do this, you may need to modify the code or formatting of the presentation. Finally, when you have the visuals streamlined, consider adding annotations to explain any particularly complex visualizations.

Establish a Robust Dashboard Structure

Excel dashboards provide users with a quick and efficient way to review important data and make decisions. In order to make a successful dashboard, it’s important to establish a well-structured and organized structure. Here are some tactics to consider when building an Excel dashboard.

Consider design elements to create a visually appealing dashboard

Design plays an important role in creating a visually compelling dashboard. Consider incorporating various formats like charts, graphs and tables, to help users quickly and easily comprehend information. Utilize icons, color coding and fonts to add emphasis, to draw attention to important pieces of data and to group content. When carefully implemented, design elements can help make a dashboard visually attractive and easy to read.

Create an arrangement that will enable users to find information easily

It’s important to consider how users will interact with the dashboard and to design its layout accordingly. Place important visuals on the dashboard first and ensure that the dashboard is user-friendly by using logical structures, such as adding titles and subtitles. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that the dashboard has a cohesive look and feel and that information is organized in a straightforward manner. The arrangement of the dashboard should enable users to quickly orient themselves, find information and take action.

Embed interactive elements for users to explore the analytics

Adding interactive elements to an Excel dashboard will allow users to further explore data in more detail. For example, you can use filters and drill-down menus to allow users to choose what data to view and to specify the metrics they want to analyze. Interactive elements will also provide users with detailed insights, help them to make smarter decisions and enable them to quickly access important data while saving time.

Employ tricks to speed up the time of refreshing the data

Speed and performance is key when it comes to dashboards, as users will want to access data immediately. It’s important to ensure that a dashboard is always up-to-date with the most recent data. And to optimize speed, you can use techniques such as data caching, data compression, and indexing. These techniques will help to minimize the time it takes to refresh the data, allowing users to access information more quickly.

By following these tactics, you can create an effective and efficient Excel dashboard that will enable users to better understand their data and make smarter decisions.

Integrate the Different Components

Creating effective Excel dashboards can be complex and labor-intensive, however, the power they unlock make them entirely worthwhile investments. To be successful, it is important to incorporate each of the components and tools available within the Microsoft Excel system. This includes activating the database queries, using macros, code and VBA, to build the necessary interactive features.

Activate the database queries to enable data collection

The first step in building an Excel dashboard is to gather the data. Using the database queries in Excel, you can gain access to various sources and easily combine them into a single query. This ensures that your dashboard maintains its accuracy and efficiency. Once the queries are activated, begin exploring the data and analyze any patterns or trends that are apparent.

Utilize macros to automate some of the process

Using macros can help simplify the process of managing your Excel dashboard. Macros allow you to schedule tasks, store values, and automate entire workflows. This can increase accuracy and save time, both of which are essential when dealing with complex data. Remember, when using macros, always save a manual step as a backup, just in case something goes wrong.

Use Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to add features to the dashboard

VBA is an incredibly powerful tool that can be used to customize and enhance an Excel dashboard. With VBA, you can create dynamic elements, such as min/max ranges, reference tables, conditional calculations, and more. It also enables you to add user input to the dashboard, weaving interactivity into the design.

Connect various elements to create a comprehensive dashboard

Now that all the elements are integrated into the Excel sheet, it's time to connect them. Aim to keep the design simple, while still allowing users to access the various features and customizations. To add interactivity, consider adding navigation tools and leveraging pivot tables, charts, and lists. This allows you to make the most of the data and provide a comprehensive snapshot of your dashboard performance.


This blog has examined multiple tactics for efficiently developing Excel dashboards. We discussed skills such as managing data sources, utilizing data models, filtering tasks, and table improvements. We then looked at exemplar tips for leveraging greater performance, such as making simple changes, applying data validation techniques, taking advantage of the Excel functions, and testing the model. Finally, we discussed techniques for improving visual aspect such as using different types of charts, employing color to differentiate data, and ensuring a streamlined layout with logical row and column widths.

In conclusion, Excel dashboards are a powerful and effective mechanism for managing large sets of data and presenting complex information in a clear and comprehensive format. By leveraging the tactics and skills discussed in this blog, users can efficiently and effectively develop Excel dashboards to optimize performance and design.

As private or public organizations rely increasingly on data-driven analysis and informed decision making, the need for accurate and succinct representation of data will be more important than ever. Excel dashboards are the perfect tool to quickly and intuitively present relevant data in a neat and attractive format, making them a valuable resource for any organization.

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