Like many trying out data viz, we initially hopped on the bandwagon with several Business Intelligence platforms. However, we quickly ran into several of the following impediments:
- Too time-consuming to generate dashboards for one-off surveys
- Too expensive to download on multiple desktops
- Too large of a learning curve for new data analysts
After many frustrations with these high powered software packages, we discovered that the solution was within reach the whole time: Excel! With Excel, you can easily aggregate and analyze data, and now, with slicers you can develop interactive dashboards to effectively showcase major trends and findings. Microsoft Excel is affordable, easily shareable without the use of a private server, and just as effective in displaying visualizations that are drillable without the added layers of difficulty that come with other Business Intelligence tools.
The 5-Step PARCS method
We developed the PARCS method to help make designing a dashboard in Excel super easy. Here are the five steps:
- Pivot: First, generate a pivot table
- Analyze: Then, analyze data within your pivot table fields
- Rename: Rename your pivot table from “Pivot Table 1” to “Graduation Plans”
- Chart: Insert a Pivot Chart to visualize your data
- Slice: Finally, insert a Slicer to allow the user to slice and dice the data. Slicers make the dream work!
Creative Design Layouts
One of the most exciting things about designing an interactive dashboard in Excel is the ability to get creative with your design layout and overall look of your dashboards. For example, did you know that you can create your dashboards on top of an existing image? The background images provide instant context to your data!
Use the PARCS Method with Google Sheets!
Not all our clients have access to up-to-date versions of Excel. We discovered that you can build the same amazing dashboards in Google Sheets. Interactive dashboards in Google Sheets are very easy to share and accessible by anyone with an internet browser. We have found that all of the functionality of Excel is available in Google Sheets; it just looks a bit different.
Free Interactive Dashboard Templates
We hope that the PARCS method will enable you to create interactive dashboards in Excel without spending a bundle on other Business Intelligence tools. You are welcome to download some of our free interactive dashboard templates here: https://www.shellyphd.com/sample-dashboards.html.
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