Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Interactive Dashboards

A Parable:
There once was an Excel professional, (you may have known him or her), who would create wonderful, detailed reports that went on and on and on for many pages in the professional’s workbook. The professional’s work was impeccable. All the information was there, every bit of it! So why (why, why, why) did it Not get used and appreciated like it should?

The problem with this fine professional’s work was it was not Concise, Convenient, or Controllable.

The solution is to create what has become popularly known as a Dashboard. A key part of the definition of a Dashboard is that they can fit on a single computer screen so it can be monitored at a glance.

Dashboards can be linked to complex (or comparatively simple) formulas that work in the background gathering information from a centralized database. The formulas may be comprised of Database functions, Boolean arrays, IF functions, or several others.

Here are some Key Features you should strive for in your Dashboard:

1. The data is the Star, but keep in mind the other elements
2. Make it Interactive with dropdowns, spinners, scrollbars, etc.
3. Keep your audience in mind (it’s Their Dashboard…)
4. Don’t clutter the screen with unnecessary components
5. Make it attractive enough to hold your audience’s interest, but…
6. Don’t make it so stylized it muddles the message
7. Avoid 3-D charts (fancy, but 2-D tend to be more functional)
8. Experiment with the new Conditional Formatting features

A truly fine Excel professional will always make a Dashboard that is Concise, Convenient, and Controllable. It's all about Information, not just the data. A dashboard is only as valuable as the Information that can be obtained from it!

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