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In this article we will take an Excel source containing scorecard information and convert into dials and speedometer charts.
We will also create few bar trending charts.
Consider the below sample data
Source File: You can download the excel file here
The above excel file tracks few metrics such as safety, quality and revenue. This is just a sample data and may not make sense in actual world but just imagine a manufacturing company that wants to track its overall safety and quality score and also track its total revenue. Now the company may use its own method at deriving the individual safety and quality scores.
They may have a dedicated team to collect safety violations and product defects and then use some formulae to convert those data into final score for any given month. We are not concerned with any of the methods on how those scores are generated. You are the dashboard person and the company has provided you the metrics by each month and now your job is produce a nice dashboard that shows relevant charts for the given data.
Since the data is tracked for each month, it makes sense to show a line or bar chart trending for the metrics.
Dials and Speedometers are relevant when we need to show performance of a single value. So in this case, since we have 12 month data, how do we show single value on the meter chart?
One solution is to show an ‘Average’ value for the safety and Quality metrics or we could show a dial that shows the current month values.
So the GOAL for this exercise is: Show bar chart for Safety trending 12 months and show average and current month value on the dial chart.
Dial chart requirement: For the dial chart, we are measuring the performance, whether we are on track or missed the goal. In order to achieve that, we create three new columns for safety such as ‘safety_bad’, ‘safety_ok’, safety_good’. These values need to be decided by the company management. If you are not sure, then look at previous year data and decide what should be good and bad values. The dials are used to guide the company to perform better or atleast improve that portion of the company operation represented by the metric.
First let us create the date hierarchy columns from the Period column. You need to make sure that the Period column is an actual Excel date column, else the hierarchy will not be generated
Right click on the period column, select Create -> Add Year, Quarter, Month columns
As you see we added the year and month columns. We may not use all of the above columns but having them ready gives us the option during the chart building.
Now right click on the “Name” and select ‘Create Chart”
We selected the ‘Bar’ chart type
For the x-axis we select the month column and for the y – axis we select the Safety metric
Next, we click on the “Create Chart” button
This action takes us to the below dialog
We rename the chart to ‘Safety’ and then click on ‘Fully Apply’
This action create the below chart (You may need to move the screens and dialog around to see the chart behind)
Now having the chart wizard open, we change the selection to ‘Dial’ chart
Check the Dial chart options below
We modify the options as below
- You can type the low and high range values for each range on the dial.
- In our case, we have defined the safety bad, ok and good values in our spreadsheet so when our goals change, we just change the spreadsheet and the dials will automatically take care. Also, what if we needed different goals for each month so rather than hard coding the range in the chart, we get them from the excel file
We first change the label sequence for the “Region Name” from “Bad” -> “Warning” -> to “Good”. For the dial chart the labels are not used so make sure that the colors are selected appropriately.
You may click on the color icon to change the colors of your choice
Next, we select the range boundary values
The safety_bad value from our spreadsheet represents the lower boundary of our bad region, “safety_ok” represents the upper boundary of our bad region, similarly ‘safety_ok’ is the lower bound for our ‘ok’ region and so on. For the ‘Good’ upper bound we simply typed a value but as general practice we should have one more column for the upper bound of the final region. In our case the final region is ‘Safety Good’.
Next, for the pointer value, select the column that you want to show on the dial chart. In our case we select ‘Safety’ and aggregation as ‘Avg’
Next, we click on “Create chart”. This action shows the dialog below
We change the chart title to ‘Average Safety’
NOTE: remove the double quotes in the SQL statement for the group by. This will cause an error.
Click on ‘Fully Apply’
Here is our final Dial Chart
Next, create a dial chart to show current month value
We will change some conditions on the main Qlet. Right click on the “Name” and select ‘Duplicate’
It creates an exact copy of the qlet table. We change the name to ‘Current Month’
Right click on the ‘Period’ column and select ‘Create’ -> Create Date Filter
This action shows a dialog as shown below
First change the operator to ‘Between’
Next select ‘First Day of Month’ for the from and ‘Last Day of Month’ for the To val.
Click on ‘Use This Filter’
This action applies the filter to the Qlet and it shows only currrent month row
Next, right click on ‘Current Month’ and select ‘Create Chart’
All of the settings remain the same except the ‘Aggregation’, make sure to select ‘NONE’
Once all the three charts are done, we arrange them as below
Similarly, you may create the charts for “Quality” and “Revenue”
Previous – Excel Dashboard Tutorial – 11
How do you share your Excel Dashboard with users?
Now that you have built the dashboard, you can share the dashboard in multiple ways.
” Create a PDF output of the dashboard and send as email attachment.
Click on the PDF icon on the toolbar as shown below and it will instantly create a PDF output
” Create Static HTML output. Click on the HTML icon on the toolbar. This option creates a static html page that you can put in on the web. Users cannot interact with the dashboard. It is just a snapshot image of the dashboard at the time the output was generated. It does not refresh automatically. You will need to regerate the output again when the data is refreshed.
” Desktop Sharing. You can put the dashboard definition file (icv) on a file share directory and other users can view the dashboard through the Dashboard viewer. You may need separate license for dashboard viewers for desktop.
Go to Menu Create ‘ Publish to web and it will generate a file that you can put it where the dashboard web server is and it will render the output. The look and feel is different with this option
The web version is using a flash charting engine to the desktop Java chart engine.
Details of converting the desktop to web version are not covered in the document. Please refer online at any of our websites for more details
You can download the complete tutorial as PDF
” Web Sharing: In this option, you can publish the dashboard to web and the dashboard is available real time with all the dashboard parameters and refresh actions
Previous – Excel Dashboard Tutorial
We built the above dashboard completely from scratch.
- We defined Calculations
- We defined date hierarchies
- We built Date Filters
- We built Date Parameters
- We built Bar Charts
- We built Pie Charts
- We cleaned the dashboard layout
Previous – Excel Dashboard Tutorial – 9
Cleanup – Resize and Organize
Give appropriate names to each portlet.
During the chart creation if we did not provide names, now is the time to provide them.
Right click on each title and click on “Edit”
Scale down the Size
Note, you can drag the corners of each portlet to resize the frames and drag the title name to place them on the canvas
Screen real-estate is very important when designing any dashboard or web application. For better space utilization, we will convert the standard pie to a 3D view
Also, while arranging the objects, keep the most important charts on the top and left area. Put all the detailed portlets at the bottom.
Avoid horizontal scrolling
Remember, do not put any objects on the right side of the scroll bar. Always, keep the scrolling to vertical as it is convienient for viewing.
The above layout will cause for horizontal scrolling and is not a good practice.
Once you do the basic layout of placing the portlets so that they are distinctly visible, it becomes easy to use the resizing options within the tool.
Navigate to Edit ‘ Resize Mode
Once in the resize mode, you can select each object and they are enabled for group resize and placement
Select all the parameters on the top and we will align the top edges with respect to the first one.
As you see, each plet is shown in red with a bar on top indicating it is selected for alignment
One more, thing, you can also turn the Grid mode to see a guide for your alignment and placement
Goto Edit ‘ Show Grid
Note: Once you are done with resize and align with one set of objects, make sure to deselect them before working on the next set of objects
It is best practice to first resize all the objects. All objects on the same horizontal line should have the same height. Select the optimum height of any object on that particular horizontal line and then right click on the title and resize the height of all the selected ones. Then apply the alignment -> Top , deselect the objects and start with the objects in the next horizontal line.
This completes our basic dashboard which is dynamic and extremely informative.
If you need to further customize the look and feel please refer to our online tutorial and reference section
Previous – Excel Dashboard Tutorial – 8
Finish the Dashboard Design and Development
By now, your dashboard is quite chaotic. You have objects all around your dashboard canvas with different sizes. We will start the process of finishing our design.
Before proceeding, we save a copy of the dashboard.
Navigate to menu File ‘ Save As
Give a name to the file so that you can identify the raw dashboard definition file.
Click on Save.
Next, go to menu File => Close All
Note that there are no dashboards to view.
If you need more backup copies to be created or create different versions of the same dashboard definition, then go to the File Explorer, select the file and type – Ctrl-C, and then Ctrl-V
Now, Click on the File ‘ Open
Select the file “Order Management Analytics.icv”
Note that we are not touching the – Initial Copy file.
Click on Open
Get rid of objects you don’t need
We don’t need the initial table portlet, so we will delete that.
Select the “Name” portlet and then click on the “Scissor’ icon on the toolbar
Click “Yes” to confirm.
Note, we created the backup copy of the dashboard so don’t worry if you mess up the dashboard. You can always go back to the original and start again.
Similarly remove all objects that you don’t need it.
Next – Excel Dashboard Tutorial – Arrange objects in sizing and alignment