An Excel Dashboard is a single information-packed one-page data view which shows the highlights of what is important, enabling people to quickly understand the current performance of key metrics. It is a powerful tool that can be used to track performance metrics and identify potential areas of improvement.

Building an Excel Dashboard is a great way to keep track of important data points in a meaningful way. Here are just a few of the benefits of building an Excel Dashboard:

  • Allows easy access to important data
  • Provides clear visual representation of performance metrics
  • Quickly displays overall performance in one glance
  • Gives insights into trends and issues
  • Helps to identify areas of improvement

Gathering the Data

Building an effective Excel dashboard requires raw data that is simple to access and accurately reflects key performance metrics. Gathering the necessary data can become challenging, however, as it can necessitate connecting with multiple sources and finding a way to format them for an easy to read dashboard that effectively displays performance metrics.

Identifying the Data Required

The first step in the data gathering process is to identify the metrics that need to be tracked. These metrics should reflect the goals of the organization, provide an easy way to measure progress, and tie back to any key performance indicators (KPIs) that have been established for success. Often this involves collecting data from multiple sources and considering a variety of measures that can be used to track performance.

Accessing and Formatting the Data

Once the required data has been identified, it then needs to be obtained. This could mean accessing data from internal and external sources, such as databases or other applications, and ensuring that the data is up-to-date. The data should then be formatted into a readable format that can be easily read by the dashboard. This could involve streamlining the data, organizing it into lists and tables, and choosing appropriate chart types to visualize the data effectively.

Designing the Dashboard

Designing a dashboard is a key step in leveraging the power of Microsoft Excel for tracking performance metrics. Representing data in an appropriate way can make the dashboard easy to use, comprehend and navigate. Thoughtful consideration of the visuals, colors, layout and usability can help maximize the dashboard’s impact.

Deciding on Visuals and Colors

The way in which the metrics on the dashboard are visualized can have a significant impact on the user’s comprehension of the numbers. Graphical representations such as bars, lines and pies help to provide a quick overview of performance. Consideration also needs to be given to the colors used on the dashboard. Colors can help distinguish values that are in line with goals and those that are lagging. When assigning colors, it is important to consider variables such as color blindness when choosing what colors to use.

Choosing the Layout and Usability

An intuitive layout makes a dashboard much easier to use and increases the impact that it can have. Consideration should be given to making the dashboard mobile friendly, and investigating ways of making it interactive. This can help make it easier to analyze data, as well as aid with the visualization of trends or correlations. Other factors such as the organization of categories and the navigation of the dashboard will also impact its usability.

  • Make sure to choose visuals to quickly depict the numbers
  • Keep colorblindness into consideration when assigning colors
  • Maximize usability by focusing on intuitive layout and navigation
  • Make the dashboard mobile friendly and interactive

Building the Dashboard Cells

Creating an effective dashboard requires an attention to detail, accuracy and efficiency. Excel’s tools make it easy to build powerful and interactive dashboards that help you track and visualize performance metrics. To build a dashboard, you must first understand how to use Excel’s formulas, macros, and other features to create the dashboard cells.

Utilizing Formulas and Macros

Formulas are a powerful way to instantly calculate important performance metrics and trends. Excel offers a wide range of formulas that can help you quickly calculate totals, averages and other important measures. You can also create custom formulas to meet your specific needs. Macros are also helpful in automating repetitive tasks. They can save time by reducing the number of steps required to perform a task. Once configured, macros can help quickly update the data in your dashboard.

Automating Tasks with Conditional Formatting

Conditional formatting is an intuitive way to visualize data in your dashboard. Excels's range of features allows you to customize your dashboard and set different thresholds, so you can easily spot trends and outliers. You can also set triggers that will automatically apply different formatting to data that meets certain criteria. This powerful feature can help reduce the effort needed to continuously monitor and update the data in your dashboard.

Final Dashboard Customizations

Creating an Excel dashboard can take time and effort, but it can be ultimately beneficial for any project. Once all of the necessary components are added and the functionality works correctly, it is time to customize and refine the dashboard.

Creating Buttons and Links

The dashboard can be enhanced with visuals that might draw the user's attention. Buttons and links can be added to transition between different worksheets. Excel's 'Conditional Formatting' tool can be used to create effects like alternating row colors, or to highlight certain numbers that are above or below the average performance metrics.

Adding Visual Effects

Color-coding metrics can be useful with charts and graphs. Color can draw the user's attention to the most important elements of the dashboard and make it easier to scan the data. The 'Conditional Formatting' feature can also be used to create a heatmap to better visualize the range and differences between data points. Furthermore, changing the way a graph is presented can be an effective way of communicating the data; this includes switching from a bar graph to a line graph or vice versa.

Dashboard Best Practices

An Excel Dashboard is a powerful tool for tracking performance metrics, and following best practices can help ensure that it is reliable and accurate. Refreshing the data regularly, creating backups, and organizing the data in multiple tabs can help you get the most out of your dashboard.

Refreshing the Data Regularly

It is important to ensure that your dashboard is displaying the most current data. Refreshing the data regularly not only allows you to analyze up to date metrics but also prevents inaccurate results. This can be done by directly refreshing the data or using a macro to automate the process.

Creating Backup Copies

It is equally important to create backup copies of the dashboard. Backing up the data periodically allows you to go back in time and investigate the dashboard at previous points in time. This can be a convenient way to track changes in the data over a longer period of time.

Utilizing Multiple Tabs and Organizing the Data

Organizing the data in multiple tabs can also aid in the accuracy and function of the dashboard. Utilizing tabs for each metric allows for easy navigation and analysis, and makes it easier to make edits or updates if necessary. It also keeps the data organized in one central place, allowing for easy reference when creating visuals or reports.

  • Organize data in multiple tabs
  • Refresh the data regularly
  • Create backup copies periodically


Creating an Excel dashboard to track performance metrics has a slew of benefits that should not be overlooked. Taking the time to craft such a dashboard will not only provide you with analytical insights and the ability to compare, it can also provide opportunities for data-driven decision making. Moreover, you will gain a greater understanding of your business, trends and performance objectives. With the right use of data visualizations, you can provide an effective overview of activity, trends, and performance.

Summarizing the Benefits of Building an Excel Dashboard

Building an Excel dashboard can provide you with the following benefits:

  • A better understanding of your data
  • Enables data-driven decision making
  • Highly customizable options for data visualizations
  • Allows you to easily compare performance metrics
  • Provides analytics and insights

Looking Ahead to the Future of Dashboards

The future of dashboards is bright as organizations continue to adopt technology to automate operations. Dashboard tools will become more user-friendly with improved reporting capabilities, making them even more accessible to users. Dashboards will continue to be used to monitor trends, analyze performance, and compare data. As businesses become increasingly data-driven, dashboards will become a staple in their tracking arsenal, providing the insights they need to make more informed decisions.

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