Dashboards make it easy to track performance and trends, and are a critical tool for any business. A dashboard is a visual tool that displays key performance metrics on one screen, allowing the user to monitor statuses and results at a glance. It helps identify relevant information quickly, so business owners, managers and executives can make informed decisions.
The purpose of a dashboard is to take business data in multiple forms and formats and convert it into visuals that are easy to understand. Dashboards can help users more effectively identify and assess opportunities, quickly spot trends and changes, and ultimately, make better decisions.
Using Excel to deliver a dashboard has many benefits. Excel is an inexpensive and powerful tool that has a large user base and wide availability. Excel also provides users with a great amount of flexibility in how data is arranged and displayed meaning dashboards can be easily customised without needing technical skills.
Pre-Deployment: Designing Your Dashboard
Having an effective data dashboard can help any team or organization get an overview of their data and improve decision-making. However, designing your dashboard for successful deployment requires proper consideration of several factors. Below are best practices for designing your dashboard for successful deployment.
Understand What Type of Data You Need
When designing a data dashboard, it is important to understand what type of data you need. Identifying key metrics that provide data-driven insights can help you track performance and ensure you are placing the right focus on the most important goals. Once you have an understanding of the data needed, you can focus on getting the data from the right sources and determining how the data should be presented for an effective dashboard.
Choose the Most Appropriate Visualization Tools
Choosing the visualization tool for your dashboard is essential. Using the wrong visual can make your dashboard unnecessarily complicated or overwhelming. There are several chart types you can choose from, including tables, line charts, bar charts, and scatter plots. No two dashboards are the same, so it is important to determine which visual will best represent your data and the message you are trying to convey.
Design with Your Audience in Mind
The final step in dashboard design is to consider your audience. You need to make sure the dashboard is designed in a way that is easy to understand and digest for the intended audience. Since dashboards are intended to present complex data in a clear and concise way, it is important to ensure the visual elements, metrics, and overall layout make it easy to understand the data at a glance.
When deploying dashboards in Excel, data organization is key. To maximize the potential of your dashboards, here are some best practices related to data organization.
Use data commands, tables, and queries effectively
Data commands, such as sort, filter, and group, can help you organize the data for your dashboards. Excel tables, a type of structured data range, are useful for managing data, such as sorting, filtering and calculating totals and subtotals. Queries can be used to filter and combine data from multiple sources.
Establish consistent formatting
To ensure accuracy and readability in your dashboard, you need to establish consistent formatting. When you set up the Excel model, include a table of formatting rules. This can ensure that everyone is using the same standards when they input data into your dashboard.
Set up a data pipeline
To maintain the accuracy of your dashboard, you need to make sure the data stays up to date. To do this, set up a data pipeline that automates the process of getting data into the dashboard. This can include connecting to external data sources, scheduling data refreshes, and setting up alerts for data quality issues.
Using Excel for dashboard deployment provides a useful way for users to monitor, visualize, and analyze data sets to make informed decisions. Excel dashboards leverage charts, illustrations, and macro tools to bring together information from multiple sources into a single user-friendly interface. To maximize the effectiveness of dashboards deployed in Excel, the following features should be considered.
Incorporate filtering options
Using filters in Excel dashboards enables users to quickly pinpoint specific data points. For example, filters can be used to segment data or to see individual data points that make up larger sets. To ensure maximum return on users’ filtering efforts, Excel dashboards should also have options to display summary metrics, sometimes referred to as “aggregate data” that reflects the use of filters.
Consolidate formulas into a single cell
A single cell can store multiple formulas, greatly simplifying the number of formulas. This makes is easier to maintain the dashboard and helps ensure accuracy so the data is collected without having to re-enter the formulas each time. formulas are added to the single cell, additional cells can refer to the formulas, creating an easier-to-read and utilize dashboard.
Create dynamic charts
Using dynamic charts in Excel dashboards offers benefits to both the user and the dashboard manager. Dynamic charts allow the user to manipulate the values and explore a range of scenarios that can help in the decision-making process. For the dashboard manager, dynamic charts provide the ability to update the visualizations when the underlying data changes.
- For example, a dynamic chart can show an easily-adjustable range of values that the user can manipulate with their mouse.
- In addition, dynamic charts can provide summaries of data in a way that is both visually appealing and enables users to drill down into the underlying data when necessary.
- One example of a dynamic chart is a heatmap, which allows users to quickly and easily differentiate between areas with highest and lowest values.
When creating Excel-based dashboards, ensuring the accuracy of their data is absolutely critical for garnering any sort of trust from the readers. To ensure this accuracy, several quality assurance steps should be taken.
Test Your Formulas
The formulas used to power dashboards should be tested thoroughly before being used in production. This will help to ensure that the correct results are being displayed as expected and that simple errors aren’t causing an incorrect analysis to be presented to end users. As well as testing for accuracy, it’s important to check for efficiency. Exploring techniques such as data caching can massively improve the performance of your workbook.
Check Charts Against Your Source Data
Verifying that charts are displaying the correct information is a very simple process. Checking charts against the source data it was created from is the best practice way to ensure that the data displayed accurately maps to the data you have stored.
Troubleshoot Enhancement Requests
Ensuring that any changes to your dashboard are properly implemented is a very important task. When being asked to make changes, it’s important to get a clear specification on what they would like changed. It’s a good idea to troubleshoot changes as well and make sure they are implemented in the most suitable way.
Once you have successfully deployed your dashboard, there are some key post-deployment steps for optimal use and performance. Follow these steps for the best performance from your dashboard.
Develop an Updating Schedule
It is important to develop an updating schedule for your dashboard immediately after deployment. Having a regular schedule for when your dashboard is updated is essential for consistent performance and accuracy. The schedule should include the time of day when you update the dashboard, as well as how often you update it. Depending on the data sources and frequency of use, you may need to update multiple times a day or once a week.
Monitor the Performance of Your Dashboard
After you have developed your updating schedule, it is important you monitor the performance of your dashboard. Take note of any errors or bugs, and pay attention to how well the dashboard is responding to user requests. This will enable you to make any necessary changes more quickly and easily.
Identify Opportunities for Improvement
Even once your dashboard is up and running, there is always room for improvement. Make sure you regularly assess your dashboard and create a list of any improvements that could be made to enhance the user experience. This could mean adding new features or cleaning up existing ones. By continually assessing and evening improving the dashboard, you can ensure it remains user-friendly and effective.
In this blog post, we have covered the practical aspects of deploying a dashboard in Excel. We discussed the importance of Excel dashboards in evaluating data, the best practices associated with dashboard deployment in Excel, and helpful tips on presenting and visualizing a dashboard correctly.
Recap Key Points
To recap, here are the main points of this blog post on dashboard deployment in Excel:
- Dashboards are an effective tool for evaluating data and making decisions.
- When creating a dashboard, ensure that you plan and structure your data correctly.
- Consider the audience and tailor the dashboard to their needs and interests.
- Use visualizations that create the most impact.
- Structure charts so they are easy to navigate and interpret.
Emphasize the Importance of Dashboard Deployment in Excel
Deploying a dashboard in Excel requires attention to detail, as well as a good understanding of the data and the audience. It is important to consider the best practices associated with Excel dashboard deployments, and to structure the data and visualizations accordingly. Done correctly, an Excel dashboard can be an effective way to present data in a meaningful and impactful way.