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Establish the User Requirements
overall trend of the attendance. Second, not all the details of the data are shown in this presentation;
only the key pieces of information that support the goal of this dashboard. Finally, by virtue of its
objective, this dashboard effectively presents you with analysis and conclusions about the trending
of attendance.
Figure 1-2: A dashboard provides an at-a-glance view into key measures relevant to a particular objective or
business process.
As you take in this concept of reports versus dashboards, remember that Excel doesn’t provide tools
specifically designed for dashboards or reports. The beauty of Excel is that any of its tools can be
used to perform virtually any task that you need. For example, you can use the chart, pivot tables,
and macros features in a basic report or to play a key role in a dashboard presentation. In this topic,
we introduce you to the many ways that you can leverage everyday Excel tools to build your own
dashboard components.
Establish the User Requirements
Imagine that your objective is to create a dashboard that provides information about monthly
service subscriptions. Do you jump to action and slap together whatever comes to mind? Do you take a
guess at what information would be useful in a dashboard like this? These questions sound
ridiculous, but it happens more that you think. We are constantly called to action but are rarely provided
the time to gather the true requirements for the project. Between limited information and false
deadlines, the end product often ends up not being used or causing more work than value.
This brings us to one of the key steps in preparing to build a dashboard — collecting user
requirements. These user requirements include defining your audience, data sources, performance
measures, refresh schedules, and so on.
In the non-IT world of the Excel analyst, user requirements are practically useless because of the hard
left and right turns we’re asked to make every day. So the gathering of user requirements sometimes
seems like a waste of valuable time in the ever-changing business environment.
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