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
- Save time by developing standardized Excel reports: users can reuse existing reports, avoiding repetitive manual tasks such as report formatting and data validation
- Avoid errors from manual data gathering: automated access pulls data from all sources into a unique information channel for business intelligence Excel reports
- Combine data from multiple sources, including Microsoft Dynamics, SAP, Oracle, SQL Server, AS400, spreadsheets and other formats into a single report
- Leverage existing Excel templates: you can automate standardized reports using your corporate layouts and formats
- Scheduled report delivery: end-user reporting can be set up daily, weekly, or monthly – whenever decision makers need the information
- Automated pivot tables: automatically populate pivot tables for multi-dimensional analysis in Excel
- Save training time and cost: users already know how to use Excel reports, and they love the simple and familiar interface, so there’s no need for end-user training
- Save money on reporting software: unlimited user licensing means that your company needs only Excel – no add-ins or plug-ins and no license costs per end user
- Avoid complexity with an enterprise reporting tool that maximizes Excel automation: easy-to-use query wizard and report designer provide advanced reporting and display via Excel
Microsoft Excel, the spreadsheet component of the Microsoft Office suite, may already be a familiar and frequently-used program within your company. Although the grid structure lends itself well to organizing cells of data, you can put Excel to work harder for you for your business reports.
Whether a request for a new report lands on your desk or you want to revamp something old-fashioned, Excel can be a time saver. Find a large collection of reporting templates by clicking the “File” tab and selecting “New.” Double-click the “Reports” button and check financial report templates such as balance sheets, pivot tables, budget summaries, commission reports, receiving reports, liquidity analyses, debt ratios and more. All of Excel templates are customizable for your business, but they’ll give you a jump start on setup. Some even include the Auto Sum feature and macros, which perform calculations for you.
Show it, Don’t Just tell it!
Break up the monotony of documents full of text or numbers with Microsoft Excel charting functionality. Whether you’re putting together an annual report or a sales document, inserting a pie chart, bar graph or other infographic can help your readers better understand what they’re digesting. Excel automatically creates diagrams from its “Insert” tab’s Charts section on the ribbon. You have full control over the type of chart, colors, labels and size. You can even copy and paste the chart directly from Excel into other Office products such as Microsoft Word, or save the design and add it to other programs.
It Adds Up
Even if you use another software program to actually produce your business report, you may find Excel to be easier and quicker to use than a calculator or adding machine. When you need to produce actual calculations for your reports, rely on Excel’s “Formulas” tab to get you through. Instead of hand-typing figures from a year’s worth of monthly sales into a calculator, which leaves room for typing errors, type the numbers into the Excel grid and run the AutoSum feature. This adds it all together with a benefit – should your numbers ever change, the AutoSum automatically adjusts that result with the new data. You can then transfer this information into your financial reports.
Excel works very well for dashboard reporting. But there are a wide variety of techniques you can use, and they all can’t be explained in one short article. Even so, here are some tips and techniques to get you headed in the right direction.
Make use of Small Charts for Dashboard Reporting
Compare the charts you see in typical management reports to the charts you see in business magazines. In management reports, charts are frequently the size of a post card; in magazines, charts are frequently the size of a postage stamp. By making your charts small you typically make them more useful. Readers can view them at a glance, and easily can compare one chart with another. If we had used big charts, as many companies use for management reporting, we would have needed at least six pages to contain the same information presented on one dashboard page.
Use a Reporting Template
Your first one-page dashboard reporting probably will take several days to create. Don’t waste that investment. Set the report up as a reporting template.
By template, we do not mean that you should save your workbook as an Excel template file…an XLT file. Instead, you should design your report workbook so you can update it easily from month to month, department to department, and so on.
The key step is to design your workbook so that it contains no data, only formulas and key values…values including the month to report, the department, the division, and so on.
The easiest way to do this is to use an Excel-friendly OLAP product. This would allow Excel formulas to return specific values from cubes of data on your computer or a server.
With your formulas set up properly, you’ll find it very easy to shift your report from month to month or division to division. Just enter the month or division in the appropriate cells, and then recalculate.