Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Concise, Convenient, and Controllable

A Sad Story 
Once upon a time in Corporateville, there was a hard-working, but underappreciated Excel professional. This fine Excel pro would create wonderful, detailed reports that went on and on in glorious detail for many pages in this professional’s workbook report. The professional’s work was of the highest caliber, absolutely impeccable. All the information was there, every last bit of it! So why then (Why Oh Why) did the stakeholders not make Good Use of all of the fine information?

The Answer 
The reason is really very simple: This fine professional’s work was not provided in a Concise, Convenient, or Controllable format.

The Solution 
The solution is to create what is typically known as a Dashboard. The Key Features in a Dashboard make it user-friendly and fit on a single computer screen. The user should be able to monitor and understand it at a glance.

Though user-friendly and simple in appearance, 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 Six Key Features You Should Strive for in your Dashboard: 

 1.  Although the data is the Star, one should keep in mind other elements

 2.  It should be Interactive with drop-downs, spinners, scroll bars, etc

 3.  Make it engaging so it will hold your audience’s interest, but…

 4.  Do not make it so stylized it muddles the message

 5.  Avoid 3-D charts (elegant, but 2-D versions are more functional)

 6.  Consider using some of the new Conditional Formatting features where desirable

When properly constructed, a Dashboard is Concise, Convenient, and Controllable. It is all about providing the stakeholders with Information, not just data. A dashboard should make the user’s life noticeably easier (and bring you the Appreciation you deserve!)

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