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Download the sample Excel file used to create this dashboard here.
Excel dashboards are a popular tool for communicating key business metrics with colleagues and stakeholders. But building dashboards directly in Excel has several major drawbacks:
- Uninspiring design, and too many confusing options
- Excel dashboards still need to be sent around using email, often meaning numbers remain hidden in someone’s inbox
- Once they’re sent, they’re sent. KPIs can become stale very quickly, and a spreadsheet attached to an email rarely contains up-to-the-minute information
A wall-mounted Excel dashboard on the other hand can transform how everyone in your company understands and perceives their KPIs, as this example shows.
Start with a source Excel file
This example dashboard is powered by the data in a sample Excel file which you can download yourself here.
There’s no special trick to how the source data is structured. Inside the Excel file you’ll see the numbers are arranged in columns, with titles at the top of each column.
To get these numbers into Geckoboard, the source file has been uploaded to Dropbox. There, the data can easily be updated by the owner of the spreadsheet, and they can also allow others in their company to collaborate. Dropbox syncs any changes when they are saved, and widgets on the dashboard update within minutes to reflect the updated numbers.
Let’s look at how the dashboard has been put together using data in the sample Excel file.
To the top left of the dashboard is a Leaderboard widget showing ‘Sales this month’ for a fictional company. Leaderboards are a great way to motivate teams that have a competitive spirit, and to help individuals benchmark their performance against others in the team.
Creating a leaderboard widget from Excel data is simply a case of selecting a column of data to serve as ‘labels’, and then selecting a column of values.
To the top right of the dashboard is a ‘Sales this year’ Column chart. The X-axis shows the calendar week of the year, and the Y-axis represents sales in $000s sold each week. A goal of $75,000 has also been set, which will automatically highlight in green the weeks where this goal has been hit.
Below the column chart is a Line chart showing the same data set presented as a trend line. An additional line (in yellow) shows sales targets. Unlike the column chart widget, a Line chart widget can include multiple data series, allowing for several data sets to be presented on the same set of axes, with each one represented in a different colour.
In the bottom left of the dashboard is a gauge, or Geck-O-Meter widget, showing ‘Current leads’. The Geck-O-Meter is useful for showing a value that changes frequently, in relation to its upper and lower limits. In this example there are 6 leads currently, and but the team has only ever experienced a maximum of 10 leads at any one time.
Looking at the widget, it’s also possible to see their goal is to achieve 7 leads. The gauge will turn green if and when they hit their target.
Number with goal
To the right of the Geck-O-Meter gauge is another ‘Current leads’ widget showing the same count of 6 leads, and the same goal of 7. Instead of a gauge though, the information is presented using a Number widget, showing a single number with progress towards the goal shown as a strip of blue across the bottom of the widget.
As the number of current leads increases, the strip of blue will edge towards the goal towards the right, and show a higher % completion, before ultimately turning green when the goal is hit.
Number with comparison
The final widget on this example dashboard - ‘Units shipped today’ - is also a Number widget. Like the ‘Current leads’ widget, a the main number that’s displayed is a single value from the spreadsheet. Instead of showing a goal though, this Number widget has been set up with a change indicator.
This arrow and number combination adapts to show the difference between two values, for example between two reporting periods, or the difference between a ‘first’ and ‘last’ value. In this case a higher number is ‘better’, so the widget has been set up to show a decrease in the colour red.
This example dashboard should hopefully give you a rough idea of how easy it is to turn KPI data in an Excel spreadsheet into something much more intuitive and actionable. Combine some Spreadsheet-powered widgets with over 70 integrations with tools like Salesforce, Zendesk and Google Analytics to build powerful, effective dashboards for your team.