Below is a Part 2 of the Guest Post by my guest blogger Dr. Kadakal, (CEO of Pagos, Inc.). This article is about of how to build Dashboards and Data Visualizations with Excel. The topic is large, and the first portion of article (published on this blog last week) contains the the general Introduction and the Part 1 “Use of Excel as a BI Platform Today“.

The Part 2 – “Dos and Don’ts of building dashboards in Excel“ is below and Part 3 – “Publishing Excel dashboards to the Internet“ is coming soon. It is easy to fall into a trap with Excel, but if  you avoid those risks as described in article below, Excel can become of one of the valuable BI and Data Visualization (DV) tool for user. Dr. Kadakal said to me recently: “if the user doesn’t know what he is doing he may end up spending lots of time maintaining the file or create unnecessary calculation errors”. So we (Dr. Kadakal and me) hope that article below can save time for visitors of this blog.

BI in my mind is a marketing umbrella for multiple products and technologies, including RDBMS, Data Collection, ETL, DW, Reporting, Multidimensional Cubes, OLAP, Columnar and in-Memory Databases, Predictive and Visual Analytics, Modeling and DV.

Data Visualization (aka DV), on other hand, is a technology, which enabling people to explore, drill-down, visually analyze their data and visually search for data patterns, like trends, clusters, outliers, etc. So BI is marketing super-abused term, while DV so far is focused technology and article below shows how to use Excel as a great Dashboard builder and Data Visualization tool.

Dos&Don’ts of Building Successful Dashboards in Excel

Introduction (click to see the full article here)

In previous week’s post (see also article “Excel as BI Platform” here) I discussed Excel’s use as a Business Intelligence platform and why it is exceedingly popular software among business users. In this article I will talk about some of the principles to follow when building a dashboard or a report in Excel.

One of the greatest advantages of Excel is its flexibility: it puts little or no constraints on the user’s ability to create their ideal dashboard environments. As a result, Excel is being used as a platform for solving practically any business challenge. You will find individuals using Excel to solve a number of business-specific challenges in practically any organization or industry. This makes Excel the ultimate business software.

On the other hand, this same flexibility can lead to errors and long term maintenance issues if not handled properly. There are no constraints on data separation, business logic or the creation of a user interface. Inexperienced users tend to build their Excel files by mixing them up. When these facets of a spreadsheet are not properly separated, it becomes much harder to maintain those workbooks and they become prone to errors.

In this article, I will discuss how you can build successful dashboards and reports by separating data, calculations and the user interface. The rest of this post you can find in this article

 Dos and Don’ts of building dashboards in Excel” here.

It discusses how to prepare Data (both static and external) for dashboards, how to build formulas and calculation models, UI and Input Controls for Dashboards and of course – Pivots,Charts, Sparklines and Conditional Formatting for innovative and powerful Data Visualizations in Excel.