Excel dashboards are a simple and effective way to visualize large datasets in one place. By turning data into easy to read dashboards, businesses can gain insights into their operations, helping them to make better decisions. However, like all tools, Excel dashboards also have both advantages and disadvantages.

In this blog post, we will explore the benefits and challenges associated with using Excel dashboards.

Benefits of using Excel dashboards

  • A intuitive and user-friendly interface.
  • It allows businesses to quickly input, visualize and analyze large datasets without any prior knowledge of the data.
  • Ithas powerful functions and formulas which often aren’t available in other data management programs.
  • Data can be shared easily with all stakeholders.
  • It is free to use for businesses and individuals.
  • It provides timely and accurate information.

Limitations of Excel dashboards

  • It can take a long time to set up complex dashboards.
  • Data manipulation can slow down the software, making it difficult to update large datasets on a regular basis.
  • It is difficult to access and update dashboards on mobile devices.
  • It does not always offer the same level of security as other data management programs.
  • It requires significant technical knowledge to be able to correctly set up, format and update dashboards.

Advantages of Using Excel Dashboards

Dashboards can provide numerous advantages to a business. Excel dashboards are both cost-effective and interactive, making them an especially attractive prospect for professional purposes. Below, we analyze the key advantages of using Excel dashboards.


Excel dashboards extend an immense amount of value for the cost. Not only are the tools themselves free, but they are immensely cost-effective in terms of maintaining them. No additional software or licenses are required, meaning that all changes or updates can be done quickly and easily.

Engaging Visualisations

Excel dashboards come with a variety of attractive visualisations to make data analysis easier to understand. Such visuals are essential for instilling greater accuracy and output in data-driven decisions, as they allow analysis of data to occur at a glance. Excel dashboards are particularly effective in this regard.


Excel dashboards come with a high level of configuration options. From simple configurations to complex ones, the filters and custom visualisations allow for instant analysis of data from multiple perspectives. Whether it’s analyzing performance, trends, or uncovering inefficiencies, Excel dashboards can do it all.


Excel dashboards offer great flexibility when it comes to customisations, and the range of customisable visualisations are abundant. Visualisations like scatter plots, histograms, box & whisker plots and network diagrams are just some of the common visualisations offered. Additionally, users can also customise the colour scheme and size of the visualisations in order to make them clearer and more informative.

On top of customisable visualisations, Excel dashboards also offer the ability to integrate with third-party applications. This means that data from external applications can be transferred over to the dashboard and incorporated into the visualisations, allowing users to track and analyse more complex datasets.

Disadvantages of Using Excel Dashboards

Although Excel dashboards offer an efficient way to gain insights from data, there are a few drawbacks that must be considered before developing a dashboard in Excel.

Time Consuming

Creating dashboards and complex formulas in Excel is a lengthy process. Each dashboard has to be designed in Excel, and many of the graphical elements are created manually. This leaves room for human error, which can result in difficult-to-find errors. Furthermore, the time required to create a dashboard can be significant which can be a burden to businesses when they are in need of quick results.

Limited Functionality

Excel dashboards are based on manually created formulas, meaning you can only create what you know how to code. Additionally, the dashboard’s visuals are limited in their graphical capabilities and can only be used to create basic charts and graphics.

Risk of Data Errors

Using spreadsheets to develop dashboards carries the inherent risk of data errors in the formulas used. Additionally, manual errors such as sloppy technique or copying/pasting mistakes can result in unintended data projections or errors during the development of a dashboard report.


Excel dashboards offer users a reliable and secure way to store and access their data. The level of control over who has access to the data and who can edit or delete it is a significant advantage of using Excel dashboards. It is possible to create a user profile with different levels of access and security, with select users permitted to change specific elements of the Excel dashboard, while others are restricted to viewing only.

High security control measures have become even more important in recent times with higher data protection regulations such as GDPR and CCPA coming into effect. With an Excel dashboard, users can rest assured that their data is secure since the dashboard is password-protected and encrypted, making it difficult for hackers to access the same.

  • Level of control over access and data
  • Rigid security control measures


For anyone looking to use an Excel dashboard, expertise is essential. The resources needed and the understanding of the complexity of the Excel dashboard are the two main components of the expertise needed to be successful.

Resources Needed

The resources needed to use an Excel dashboard are essential. The dashboard creator should have strong knowledge of the tools and toolsets offered by Excel and other products integrated with Excel such as PowerBI, Access, and Tableau. Understanding how to use the data warehouse, data normalization, and the user requirements for the dashboard are important for the success of the dashboard.

Understanding Complexity

Understanding the complexity of the dashboard is key to successfully creating and deploying it. Understanding the complexity of the necessary data, understanding the limitations of certain technologies, such as limited data sources or limited integration capabilities, and understanding the overall workflow from acquisition to analysis to visualization are all necessary for a successful Excel dashboard.


Excel dashboards provide businesses with a powerful, versatile data visualization tool for better understanding their data. It offers many advantages over traditional paper-based record-keeping systems and other more advanced tools. It is often the end user's first experience with analytics and data visualization. Excel dashboards provide businesses with an effective way to present data in graphical format, allowing for quick understanding and analysis of data. However, there are also disadvantages to be aware of when using Excel dashboards.

Summary of Advantages and Disadvantages

The key advantages of using an Excel dashboard are primarily the major cost savings and ease of implementation. The major disadvantage is the level of effort necessary to set up the dashboard and to ensure accuracy of the data. Additionally, there is a lack of interactivity on Excel dashboards. The lack of drill-down and slicing ability, lack of standard design templates, and inflexibility of the dashboard can also be seen as disadvantages.

Overall Impact of Using Excel Dashboards

To summarize, Excel dashboards can be a great tool to present data in an easily understandable format and can yield significant cost savings. However, they do come with certain disadvantages as well. Users must be aware of and prepared to mitigate these drawbacks in order to get the most value from their dashboards. With proper planning and implementation, Excel dashboards can serve as an invaluable asset for businesses.

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