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Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Why use dashboards in Excel?

A couple of weeks ago, I featured a guest post from Mynda Treacy on how to create Excel Dashboard Reports. This post went down well with readers, as did Mynda's training course.

Although the early bird offer mentioned in the post has now expired, you can still access Mynda's Excel Dashboards online training course until 9th August. So do it now if you don't want to miss out - and you'll still get the my Introduction to Pivot Tables course free when you do sign up.

Mynda's blog post and her course have proved very popular with those who understand that employers are increasingly requiring this skill, but I thought it might be useful to write a post myself on the purpose of dashboards for the rest of us.

Sometimes it is easy, amid all the trials and tribulations of our day-to-day work, to forget why we are creating spreadsheets in the first place. In most cases, it boils down to one thing - taking all sorts of disparate data, and turning it into something that our business/organisation/household can use.

Dashboards are the ultimate expression of that purpose. Like a dashboard in a car, the idea is to have all of the information you need right in front of you, in a very visual format, so that you can immediately focus on what is important.

The selection of the dashboard contents, the methods of visual representation, the use of colours, font sizes and graphics, all should be serving this purpose.

Imagine driving a car, and having 30 screens to flick through to tell you the current state of your vehicle and journey. Do you think it's possible that you might run out of fuel, because the fuel level is mentioned on screen 7, and you are busy monitoring your speed on screen 26?

This sounds silly, but often we tolerate this kind of information overload in our organisations.

Dashboards can be used for anything, whether it be the current state of your business or department, or distilling all of the results of the Tour de France!

The key in every case, is to give the drivers of our organisational vehicle all of the important information they need to drive us forward as safely and quickly as possible.

Excel Dashboard Reports

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