Dashboard Best Practices

Get the best dashboard practices! In this post, we’ll show you how to improve your Excel skills with the help of a FAQ section.

How many performance indicators are needed? You should know exactly. If the goal is to track only 5-10 KPIs than it is sensible to use a gauge chart, most of the companies will need a lot more than that. A gauge chart is an incredible tool, but it could be more efficient. If the goal is the tracking of more than 10 KPIs, than the best choice is the bullet chart.

How to track and visualize budget vs. actual performance? By all means, use a variance chart, but as an alternative, the bullet chart is suitable.

What should be the format of the final work? Will we have to share our information through the intranet or only share it with a few managers? We have to pay attention to set authorizations. The template should always be a read-only! Just imagine where it would lead if somebody opens the file, modifies it then forward it in an e-mail. I don’t even dare to think…

Compatibility first! Remember that different versions of Excel have a different function. If the file was created with Excel 2016 and someone wants to open it with Excel 2007 will not come anything good out of it.

Data Cleansing: Last but not least clean raw data using built-in and macros and VBA solutions! It’s very important to convert tabular format data into an Excel table. All right, the task is given! But how should we start?

Dashboard Practices and Fundamentals

Focus on the essence! The basis of every report is the one-page-layout. Keep it in mind that the user doesn’t always interested in the details. A CEO is usually still busy, having just enough time to look through some KPIs. While the business analyst has to see even the smallest details.

Before you effectively start creating a dashboard, here are some useful tips and advice:

  • KISS! Keep it simple, sparse. Very important is that we appropriately apply this rule! Don’t jam the screen full of unusable charts. This only distracts attention from the essence!
  • Apply user-friendly interface. What we measure is not the only important thing. Representation is also important. When you create a report, you have to think about others also have to understand it besides you.
  • Add an alert for KPIs. Apply varied tools! Some great technics are gauge charts, traffic lights, free widgets, bullet charts.
  • Use form controls
  • Ability to pull real-time data from several bases. The most frequent data sources are the following: online and offline database, OLAP cubes, pivot tables, text files, internal and external data sources.
  • Logical structure behind the scenes: most of the mistakes can be filtered out if we work with well-structured databases and data tables. Use three worksheets. The first one contains the raw data tables. On the second one, we make the calculations. Finally, on the third one, we display the final dashboard
  • Displays actual data, forecast, or trends.

Conclusion – Use the best practices

When an idea is born in our heads, there are two possible ways to go about it. In the first scenario, we immediately get to work and neglect the planning part. This never leads to nowhere. In the second case, we carefully plan the design and the necessary steps.

What do you think is more productive in the long run? In our opinion, the planning phase should take up 70% of the whole project. The remaining 30% is needed for the implementation. Mistakes are a lot less if we advance step by step. Stay tuned, we’ll append the article with the latest dashboard practices!

I am not a designer but would like to create splendid presentations. What should I do? Read on! More of our free tools support beginner users also.