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Dashboard Reporting for Managers

Dashboard reporting offers its readers several significant benefits. Dashboards can distill extensive data into a single page of succinct results. Dashboard reports can reduce the flood of paper to a

Two Tips on Excel Worksheet

  When you see a new excel worksheet arrive in your Inbox, your pulse doesn’t exactly quicken, does it? I’m guessing that you don’t lean forward in your chair, eager

The Role of Excel functionality in Financial Reports

  A common frustration among many Finance and Accounting departments is the difficulty associated with modifying financial and operational reports. Users often resort to manually adjusting their reports in Excel

Dashboard Reporting for Managers

Manager looking at reports

Image Courtesy of stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net

Dashboard reporting offers its readers several significant benefits.

Dashboards can distill extensive data into a single page of succinct results. Dashboard reports can reduce the flood of paper to a trickle.

With dashboard reporting, managers can compare many results to each other. This gives the managers a more accurate view of their organization, more quickly. With traditional reports, managers tend to compare many facts from many reports received over many days; with dashboard reports, it’s all there in front of them.

Dashboards easily can emphasize areas of performance that managers care most about. This is because dashboards are extremely modular. It’s very easy for Excel users to replace a chart or table that managers no longer care about with a figure that’s critically important.

In the past, the move to dashboard reporting largely bypassed Excel. This is a shame because Excel is an excellent tool for dashboard reporting. And the incremental cost of dashboard reporting with Excel is essentially zero.

What’s going on here? Why is Excel so underused for this application?
We can think of three reasons.

First, software companies can become quite successful by selling proprietary software for dashboard reporting. But selling an Excel solution offers a tiny fraction of the sales potential. Therefore, few companies find it in their interest to promote Excel for this purpose.

Second, few people have discovered the techniques needed to create high-quality dashboard reports with Excel. Although the techniques are relatively easy to use, they’re not obvious.

Third, Excel easily is overlooked for high-quality dashboard reporting. Picture in your mind a typical Excel report produced by a typical Excel user. Compare that report with the example shown above. It’s hard to believe that the same product—Excel—produced both reports. It’s no wonder that people long accustomed to standard Excel reports would never think of using Excel for magazine-quality dashboard reports.

Two Tips on Excel Worksheet

 

Open worksheet

Image Courtesy of nuttakit at freedigitalphotos.net

When you see a new excel worksheet arrive in your Inbox, your pulse doesn’t exactly quicken, does it? I’m guessing that you don’t lean forward in your chair, eager to open the file and see what exciting new numbers the worksheet is likely to present.

You can lessen this type of math anxiety for those who view your worksheets by using some simple techniques in Excel to get your data message across clearly. Here are a few tips to get you started.

 Give a Good Title

The ultimate goal of your excel worksheet is to present information in a way others will understand, right? Give readers a head start by titling your worksheet clearly. A good title lets readers know immediately what the content of the worksheet is going to show them — that way, they won’t have to work so hard. “2015 Projections” isn’t bad, but it leaves a lot of things out. What kind of projections? Sales? Hired Employees? New Store Openings? Be as clear as you can and, if necessary, add a subtitle. And if you plan to circulate the worksheet by e-mail, be sure that you title the worksheet file with something that reflects the content of the sheet itself.

Say Good Morning with Colors

Sure, black and white does the trick. But. It’s. Boring. For those of us who aren’t numbers people to start with, pouring over a black-and-white grid stuffed with an ocean of numerals is torture. Jazz it up by splashing a little color on the page. Choose an energizing color — green, orange, purple — for your column heads. Do something special with the title — maybe format it in a complementary color, add a picture at the top, put a background behind it to make it pop.

Excel makes it easy to add a picture to the background of the worksheet as well. This is really a neat effect, if you have a reason to use it. As a general rule, don’t put pictures behind your data just for the fun of it — readers have to work harder to see what’s in the foreground. But if you want to promote something fun, such as a summer sales competition, you can raise the energy by adding a special picture behind the scenes.

The Role of Excel functionality in Financial Reports

 

Female Reviewing financial reports

Image Courtesy of stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net

A common frustration among many Finance and Accounting departments is the difficulty associated with modifying financial and operational reports. Users often resort to manually adjusting their reports in Excel to get them into their preferred format for distribution. This can become a very time consuming process when multiple drafts of the same report need to be prepared month after month. Excel doesn’t just store cells of financial data – it can filter and transform them into visual diagrams and even save you time in document setup and design.

One of our favorite aspects of reporting is the familiar Excel-based environment and Excel functionality, which allows users to easily make these types of changes to existing reports. This means you only have to make each change one time for it to be incorporated into all future versions of that report. Changing fonts, highlighting rows, adding verbiage, or inserting in ratio calculations are no problem for Finance and Accounting users who are already well versed in Excel and often make these types of changes.

You can even take things a step further by adding conditional formatting to highlight variances and trends or by inserting a simple graph or pie chart for a quick visual snapshot of your receivables and payable. If you have a balance sheet item that might be classed as an asset or liability (depending on whether it has a credit or debit balance), use an Excel IF statement so it always shows up in the correct section of your balance sheet without manual manipulation.

With an understanding of Excel functionality, all of the above can be easily achieved and will deliver reports with strong visual impact that are fully formatted and ready for immediate distribution and use. By using Excel’s filters, you can quickly sort through large packages of information to get tailored results for your documents.