Do you want to create a dashboard that will update all of your charts simultaneously based on what filters your users select? Follow the steps below and you can create a professional-looking dashboard without having to use any complex formulas or programming.
Preparing the Data
If you have data in Excel that you want to use to create a dashboard, there are a couple of things you’ll want to do first to make sure everything goes well.
1. Ensure your data is free of error cells, as this will result in errors.
2. Have proper headings setup so that you know what you are referencing in your dashboard.
3. Setup a named range for your data, ideally a dynamic one. This will make it easier to link everything to your data quickly and easily.
Making sure your data is clean and ready to go is the most important step, but unfortunately the one that is easily overlooked. After all, if you’re data is no good, your outputs won’t be either. Garbage in, garbage out. You can follow along with my sample data, which can be downloaded here.
Setting up the Pivot Table
First up, let’s look at creating a Pivot Table (see this post for an into into pivot tables). I’ve assigned a name of Dataset1 to my data, and this is what I will referencing when I create a pivot table. With a named range, I don’t have to worry about selecting the data before clicking the create pivot table button, I can do it from anywhere.
Once I’ve got my pivot table ready to go, the next thing to do is to select my fields. The fields that I have to choose from in my data set include: date, store, salesperson, and product. For my first pivot table I’ll want to look at the date because I want to start from a high level and work my way down. No sense in starting from the detail when I don’t have any context yet.
For the rows, I’ll select Dates, and in the values I’ll select Total Sales. My table now looks like this:
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if you want to select columns or rows for this as it’s going to be in a chart anyway. In Excel 2016, my dates were automatically grouped into months, which is what I wanted. If you want to change the grouping, simply right-click on the dates values and click Group.
Then select the how you want the dates to be grouped
Next, I want to clean up my formatting so that my total sales have commas and so that the data is easier to read. To do this, I’ll right-click on that field and choose Value Field Settings.
Then click on Number Format and then select Accounting.
Creating a Pivot Chart
Now it’s time to convert this into a chart. Select the Insert tab and in this example I’m going to select a regular ColumnChart.
What you have now is a simple column chart that shows your sales by month. The only thing special about a pivot chart is that you’re able to filter it based on your pivot table.
You’ll notice there are drop downs on your pivot chart that you select to modify your data. I can select only certain months to look at.
The amount of options you have on here depends on how many fields you added to your pivot table. Whether you make the changes on your pivot chart or pivot table doesn’t matter, the chart will update all the same.
However, for the purposes of a dashboard, I’m going to get rid of these ugly filter buttons on my chart. To do this, click on your chart and click the button for the Field Buttons and this will remove the buttons.
Now that the pivot chart is ready to go, you can now go about and format it how you like.
Formatting and Tidying Up
Once you’re done formatting the chart, move it on to another tab. Because you’re creating a dashboard you probably won’t want your original pivot table to show up along with it. For this reason I usually move all the charts onto a separate tab. Lastly, you’ll probably want to format your chart so that it is more appealing to your users.
Rinse and Repeat
For a dashboard, you’ll want to create multiple charts and so you’ll likely want to create another pivot chart following the same steps as above. In the next chart you can focus on a more detailed analysis, such as sales by store or rep. In my example, I added three more charts in total and decided to mix it up by using a column chart, a pie chart, a stacked chart, and a bar chart. Mixing it up a little will keep your dashboard more interesting for your users.
Once you’ve added your charts, the next thing you’ll want to do is add slicers. Note that slicers are new to Excel 2010 and if you have an older version you will not be able to utilize these features. For an overview on slicers, refer to this post.
The real advantage of using slicers is that they can be linked to multiple pivot tables and pivot charts. This allows you to now turn your dashboard into a dynamic one that will update as the user selects options from the slicers. Once you’ve inserted slicers, you want to make sure that each slicer is connected to every pivot table. To do this, simply right-click on the slicer and select Report Connections.
On the next screen you can see all the pivot tables and charts that the slicer is connected to. Ensure that you have ticked off all the ones you want it connected to and then click on OK.
By doing this your slicer will now update all those charts and tables automatically. Repeat this step for every slicer you create. Your dashboard is now ready to use and anyone that makes a selection on one of your slicers will see all the charts update immediately.