Excel Dashboard Tools Add-in Giveaway

Last week, Jon Wittwer, from Vertex42, provided 4 copies of his awesome Gantt Chart Template Pro, for project tracking. The lucky winners, in my random Excel draw, are:

Congratulations! I’ll email you later today, to arrange sending you a copy of the template kit. And thanks Jon, for providing the prizes!

Dashboard Building

A couple of weeks ago, during the hot days of August, we had a giveaway for an Excel Reports & Dashboards book, by Mike Alexander and John Walkenbach. You made great comments on that topic, and mentioned that you’re trying to find ways to build better dashboards.

There were 58 entries, with 17 people saying “No”, they haven’t built a dashboard in Excel, and 41 “Yes” votes.

dashboardbuilt01

Dashboard Layout Problems

From your comments, I broke down the problems into broad categories, and layout was by far the biggest source of problems. Among the “Yes” votes, there were 25 mentions of layout issues – 61% of those votes.

I’ve uploaded my summary file to the SkyDrive, and you can open it there, and download it to your computer if you want to play with the results. The interactive view is below, and you can go from there to the online file.

The Dashboard Tool

This week, to help you with planning and building your dashboards, the giveaway is Mike Alexander’s new Dashboard Tools add-in. He sent me a copy to try it out, and it’s great!

The add-in creates a new group on the Ribbon’s Insert tab. You can use the Mockup Tools to lay out the components during the planning phase.

dashboardtool02

Then, use the Info Graphics, Canvas Builder and Color Swatches tools to create a dashboard layout, and link it to your data. There are lots of colours and shapes to choose from, so you can break out of your usual layout, and dazzle your co-workers, and boss, with something new.

dashboardtool03

In the screen shot below, I’ve added a pointer from the Info Graphics tab, and linked its textbox to the value in cell D2. A couple of clicks, and it was done.

dashboardtool01

Enter the Giveaway

Mike Alexander, from Bacon Bits Blog, has donated 2 copies of his Dashboard Tools add-in for this giveaway. If you’d like a chance to win a copy, please read the rules, and then make a comment below.

NOTE: If you’re reading this in email, or an RSS feed, please go to my blog to add your comment.

  • In your comment, tell us a benefit you’d get from using Mike’s dashboard tools add-in
  • Include your email address, so I can contact you if you win. Your contact information won’t be publicly visible, and it won’t be used for any other mailings.
  • The deadline is Wednesday, September 11th, 2013, at 12 noon Eastern Daylight Time.
  • One entry per person.
  • The 2 winners will be announced on Thursday, September 12th, 2013.
  • Each winner will have 24 hours to claim the prize, and if not claimed, another name will be selected.

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42 Responses

  1. Dibyendu says:

    I work on Excel everyday and have to produce Business Insights reports and Dashboards. These includes Dashboards and innovations on them on a ongoing basis. This particular Add-In would be of huge help to allow me to do mockups of dashboards with different shapes & templates, reproduce them as and when required. Instead of a paper now I can use the Excel tool itself to build all these Dashboards. I am a follower of Mike’s awesome tips he puts in his blog and they are extremely help and visually very appealing for professional Dashboards. I am 100% assured that this Excel Add-In is going to be a time saver and innovation source for most user like us. Looking forward for get a copy of this excellent Add-Ins

  2. Vasim says:

    Eagaerly waiting….I was looking after such a thing…The new look will defiantly stand out..

  3. Patrick says:

    Looks like a great tool. Especially the possibility of creating mockups looks nice; I often find that only after building a complete dashboard, my clients want to change the look and feel of it. Changing cell styles is not a problem, but moving things around on the worksheet without breaking all the references is always a challenge.

  4. jimmm says:

    In my work, I’m regularly adding more and more items to a weekly report. A dashboard version of this report would be MUCH better and exactly what our managers need, not a static weekly update.

  5. Jason says:

    With Mike’s Dashboard tool, I could greatly improve the visual appeal of the financial reporting for management and impress my boss too.

  6. Cecilia says:

    I build dashboards in Excel since 1999 when it was not that common, and I love doing it… I would benefit from using Mike’s dashboard tools add-in because even since then, the MOST time consuming task is the layout/design phase. Each dashboard tells a story, and I love investing my time focusing in the story, not in the “packaging”. I would see a huge time reduction by using Mike’s tool. It seems that one more time Mike figured out what power users need…

  7. Heather R says:

    Dashboards continue to be a challenge – mainly because of the variety of people I’m working with. Once thing I really like with this add-in is the color swatch and canvas builder. After I’ve spent the time designing what needs to be on the dashboard – how to make it all fit to one screen, and be understandable to users who look at data differently (not only from my perspective, but differently from one another) – I don’t often have much time to make it pretty :)

  8. Mark Cattrell says:

    I have built dashboards before, but I don’t know that they could stand up to anything many folks on this forum put together. I’d love to kick it up a notch, especially with graphical ways of communicating earned value, progress with a variety of metrics in large projects over time. Thanks for the raffle!

  9. Trouttrap2 says:

    Layout of a dashboard has always been a challenge for me. I usually end up “borrowing” somebodies layouts that I’ve seen before and mashing them with other layouts. I hope that the mockup tool will help me. Deciding a nice color scheme would be easier using his swatch tool.

  10. Zak says:

    I work in the NHS, and while we are constantly developing our ways of presenting information, this tool could help slash the time it would take to create really modern and effective dashboards. Tax payer money would be used to create very high standard reporting tools that we probably don’t have time for right now!

  11. P.J. says:

    I am always looking for ways to become more creative AND efficient in transforming data into information. This tool would allow me to deliver insights in a variety of ways. Thanks for the contest!

  12. As a consultant (Technical Writer), my small company has investigated dashboards/scorecards, etc. We started testing a couple; one vendor went from $2,000 to $20,000 for a server-based system.

    We still haven’t found anyone who was willing to give a dashboard a shot. Plenty of our clients could use one, for sure.

    Excel would do just fine for the majority of these clients. An add-in would help tremendously.

  13. Niyaz says:

    Would help me in my analytics dashboard modelling

  14. javad says:

    I realy like everyone that are crazy about using excel like me .

  15. Vitalie says:

    Obviously having a tool for dashboards would save a ton of time. I don’t like fiddling, but dashboards have to be fiddled with to look good and useful. As a result, the ones i make for my own benefit usually are half-baked, while the ones I do for clients are rather Spartan in appearance.

  16. Paul says:

    I’ve been tasked with creating reporting tools from a Sharepoint database. Downloading the data as an Excel table, that I can do. Success would be transforming the data into information via a dashboard template that updates monthly. No idea how to even start, so this book will get immediate usage.

  17. Rolendza says:

    I work as an excel trainer in indonesia, where many of my students always amazed with reporting and pivoting, by using this dasboard I wish I could broaden their knowledge that an an excel can do more than simply calculating data. In my experiences as a trainer, event the manager always like the idea of dashboarh and frequenlty asked my help how to build one. So with this add in I wish I could help more people know and learn and love building their own reporting with different view, Good looking and amazing graphics of dashboard in their office report.

  18. JD says:

    Pictures speak a thousand words, and that’s the philosophy I’m trying to promote at my current company. We present management with scores of numbers, but they are dull and not interactive … sometimes their representation makes me cry. I want to change all that with dashboards that are meaningful and can paint the right picture and help me hone my analytics skills. That’s what I hope to achieve with the right dashboard tool, and I’m confident that Mike’s add-in will help me meet that goal!

  19. Tony says:

    I need to get to grips with Excel Dashboards, and anything that helps will be a great bonus.

  20. JeanMarc says:

    This Add-in would definitely allow me to improve the look of the dashboards I have to make and impress my boss and colleagues! I would also befenit from the mockup tools when I have to create new dashboards.

  21. Donna Swoope says:

    I am just learning how to create dashboards for work. We don’t currently have anyone that really analyzes data thoroughly and put it to easy to use information. I thought by learning to create dashboards would fill in that gap and hopefully get me a raise as I have 2 boys in college and am a single mom. I do feel a little overwhelmed by all the formulas and functions it takes to get the data to useful form and I think the add-in would definitely help me with the creation process.

  22. Karogan says:

    I am sure that the add inn will save me from some of the double work I did on the dashboard I’m currently working on (my first) as I have realized that planning the lay out is an important part of creating dashboards. I would also hope that the next dashboards I’m creating would be more interesting visualy.

  23. Dave says:

    I know Mike didn’t initially rate the usefulness of the “mock up” tools he himself designed according to his blog, but maybe thats because he has to put so much effort into creating them, but I think that’s going to be one of the biggest benefits. The ability to easily throw together a look and feel for what my customers would actually like to see will be great, instead of spending hours refining what I think they asked for only to realise it was like we never had the “format” discussion!

  24. Paul J says:

    What a neat looking, time-saving tool the add-in looks like.
    I find it easy to waste lots of time trying to get some ideas on dashboards together, so having a time saving tool like this one will be a real time saver for us part-time, pro bono Excel modellers.

    I’m now off to check out Mike’s site to find out more.

  25. Mike D says:

    I have pieced together dashboards manually over the last 15 years for operational reporting. It always is a tedious process. I would like the ability to help automate at least part of the creation process. This would save time and result in a more appealing tool for management to utilize.

  26. Michel R says:

    These tools look great ! They would help a lot in the creation of dashboards.

  27. Renee Keel says:

    I currently use the standard Excel tools as well as ASAP Utilities to “jazz up” my dashboards. However, I am VERY ready for some new options and tools to revise my current and improve my future dashboards. Thank you!

  28. Janice D says:

    I work with Excel illiterate folks and anything that can help deliver data in a more concise, clear, and easy to understand format would be beneficial. Everyone is comfortable with the concept of dashboards so being able to deliver information in a familiar presentation format would help them get the data they need.

  29. Andrea R says:

    I have realized lately that my “dashboards” are really just a lot of numbers and percentages thrown together that only I understand — I need help designing something that makes the data stand out to the senior execs I am sending it to. :-)

  30. Mike Alexander’s AddIn is useful as a template for the not-so-creative dashboard builders and at the same time ease the build-up of generally accepted presentation charts.

    • Martin says:

      Hello Anchalee,

      I wish to let you know that I have
      seen your salary survey dashboard and
      am very impressed by it. Especially the
      world map on the Contest31 worksheet.

      I have one query: how did you create
      the individual country shapes, e.g.
      egypt, China etc. I tried to but didn’t
      succeed.

      Thank you.
      Martin

  31. Jason S says:

    As one that is fairly new to creating dashboards (1 year-ish) I struggle with finding ways to present data without under or overwhelming the target audiance. Mr Alexander’s add-in looks to be a fantastic solution! Not only does it appear to create attractive views, the time savings would be amazing.

    Warm regards

    Jason

  32. Jennie says:

    With this tool I could have something of great value to market my new accounting practice! I could “wow” potential clients into becoming paying clients. It looks amazing – not having to reinvent the wheel for client changes would be extremely beneficial.

  33. Jeff says:

    A picture says a thousand words. But let’s face it – Not all of us are artists.

  34. Anantha krishna says:

    This tools really helps a lot. We keep writing on note books and not getting the actual feel of the outcome. Use to face several comments after implementation. Really this one would be be beneficial.

  35. Maxim Manuel says:

    Dashboard you said? I’m in!
    I create dashboards but sometimes I need help with the designs. I think that having some tools can be handy to make me complete mu design faster.

  36. richard phaneuf says:

    I am planning on getting Mikes book on dash boards.

  37. David Unger says:

    To date, I haven’t yet built a dashboard, Mike’s book would be a very useful starting point.

  38. Hamilton says:

    I have Mike’s books on Dashboard (including the Dummies Series) and I am in the thick of making Dashboards. This addin is awesome and I am keeping my fingers crossed…:)

  39. Irasha says:

    Really brilliant initative exactly what I was looking for.

  40. Lori says:

    We use Excel extensively and I am just beginning to develop dashboards this would be a big help.

  41. Thanks for your comments, and the giveaway deadline has passed. The winners will be announced in a blog post tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013.