How Do You Make an Interactive Excel Dashboard?

Published on
April 11, 2022

An interactive dashboard is one of the most valuable tools for visualizing complex datasets in Excel reporting. But what exactly do interactive dashboards do, how do they relate to Excel dashboard widgets, and how do they work?and how do they work? 

Put simply, these tools enable you to visualize and share your reports easily. These dashboards are often applied in business intelligence use cases and function to create highly-accurate and visually stunning data resources. A few benefits associated with interactive reporting include the ability to:

  • Make data reports easier to understand
  • Help departments collaborate and share information
  • Provide agility for business leadership
  • Enable access to real-time data
  • Avoid redundancy in reporting
  • Allow for less IT involvement
  • Help businesses make data-driven decisions

By now you might be thinking, “Sounds great, but how do I create a dashboard in Excel?” Not to worry, we have the answers to that too. In this article, we will discuss three different methods for making a dynamic dashboard in Excel: Microsoft Power BI, pivot tables, and XLCubed. 

Create a Dashboard From Excel Data Using Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft’s Power BI application functions as a one-stop-shop for visualizing data and generating interactive reports or dashboards. Power BI comes with many impressive dashboard functionalities. Here are a few:

  1. Enables you to develop actionable insights for a wide range of scenarios.
  2. Easily integrates with hundreds of supported on-premises and cloud-based sources.
  3. Utilize self-service analytics to enrich your data.
  4. Possesses built-in AI capabilities.
  5. Identify patterns in your data. 
  6. Choose from hundreds of modern data visualization templates.

At its core, the Power BI platform is fairly well-stacked regarding its ability to create and distribute interactive reports and dashboards. However, Power BI does have its limitations. 

Firstly, the Power BI platform is limited in its ad hoc reporting capabilities. Because of this, many businesses that use Power BI tend to gravitate toward using pivot tables for their self-serve or ad hoc reporting needs. Secondly, when complex and analytical projects need to be exported from Power BI and analyzed in Excel, it can be fairly difficult for the Power BI system to handle, slowing down the overall process and making it difficult for the user.  

That being said, XLCubed can integrate with Power BI and pick up the slack where BI’s capabilities lack. Here are a few examples: 

  • Regarding analytical use-cases, XLCubed provides an extended model which connects Excel directly to Power BI data, avoiding the need to save into Excel, and the limitations of Pivot Tables.
  • XLCubed improves Power BI reports by adding custom visuals like analytic grids, multiple small charts, and financial reports.

Create a Dashboard in Excel Using Pivot Tables and Pivot Charts

Excel’s built-in pivot table is another way to create interactive dashboards. Pivot tables mainly function to conduct a detailed analysis of numerical data, summarize large amounts of data, query large datasets, and answer questions that occur throughout the analysis process.

Concerning data visualization, pivot charts are used to take the data from pivot tables, allowing you to create custom models, charts, and graphs. These visual tools help you and your team observe patterns and trends in your data. 

However, like PowerBI, pivot tables have a few drawbacks:

  1. Pivot tables lack a robust collection of calculation options, requiring the user to manually calculate the data and input equations. Additionally, users are often discouraged by the limitations of adding calculations to data-connected pivot tables.
  2. Pivot tables do not automatically update, meaning that when new information arrives, the user needs to manually enter everything in. This can result in outdated and inaccurate data reporting. 
  3. Although learning how to build interactive excel dashboards using pivot tables  can be rewarding, it’s often too time-consuming and difficult for first-time users to master. This is especially true regarding data analysis using pivot tables. 

As with Power BI, XLCubed is able to solve the shortcomings of pivot tables as well. XLCubed functions as a pivot table alternative, offering more sophisticated and flexible interactive dashboard capabilities. In respect to calculations, XLCubed allows users to add standard Excel formulas into cube-connected grids, functioning similarly to a pivot table, minus all of the restrictions. With XLCubed, users have the ability to add a new column or row and enter any Excel formula. Unlike pivot tables, the entered formula is dynamic and will grow and shrink as needed with the data volumes. 

XLCubed: Create Dynamic, Powerful, and Accurate Dashboards With Ease

Aside from resolving the individual weaknesses of Power BI and pivot tables, XLCubed is a powerful dashboard tool on its own. XLCubed’s Dynamic Dashboard sheets create responsive dashboards within Excel that can be opened and used on any device. Additionally, XLCubed Charts help users create seamless, visually effective charts to offer a more comprehensive understanding of the data being presented. These charts connect directly to the data source, are highly interactive, and are equipped to configure a predetermined view of data, supporting interactive data discovery.

XLCubed has much more to offer in addition to these functions. Learn about the other ways XLCubed can upgrade your Excel dashboarding capabilities here

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