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When Should Large Companies Use "Real" Dashboards AND Excel Dashboard Reports?

Most large organizations already own "real" dashboard software. So why are so many of their Excel users buying Kyd dashboard reports for Excel?

by Charley Kyd, MBA
Microsoft Excel MVP, 2005-2014
The Father of Spreadsheet Dashboard Reports

If you check the information about where Kyd dashboards are used you'll see hundreds of large companies.

Why? These companies already own expensive dashboard software. Why are their Excel users also using my inexpensive dashboard reports?

For that matter, people working for companies that make expensive dashboard software are buying my Excel dashboards. These include IBM, Oracle, SAP, and SAS Institute. Why are their Excel users also buying my products?

It could be that my Excel dashboards offer benefits that "real" dashboards don't. Judge for yourself. Which report format here offers real insight rather than mere glitz?

You can see more information below...

A 'real' dashboard display.
Another 'real' dashboard display.

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Key Differences Between "Real" Dashboards and Kyd Dashboards for Excel

Printed and PDF Copies--Few "real" dashboard systems can print high-quality results. But I designed Kyd Dashboards for printing, or for distribution in PDF files. This makes them a perfect choice for reporting to managers on the go, to the Board of Directors and other VIPs, to bankers, to stockholders, to the public, and to others without easy access to your "real" dashboard software. 

Access to Many Sources of Data--"Real" dashboards get their data from a corporate data warehouse, which the IT department typically guards like gold. But Excel reports using Kyd Dashboards can display data from any available source. This is because Excel databases can contain any data you can find. So to compare your performance to competitors' performance, or to economic data, or to "silo" data, or to a business partner's performance, etc., Kyd Dashboards probably offer your only real choice.

Access to Large Amounts of Data--Both "real" and Excel dashboards can access vast amounts of data. Excel dashboards can do so by using spreadsheet formulas that return data from PivotTables or from Excel-friendly OLAP databases like IBM's TM1 or PARIS Technolgies' PowerOLAP. (OLAP database technology, like Excel databases, can contain data from any source. Typically, they're administered by users, not by the IT department. And unlike most "real" dashboard databases, the OLAP databases also are an outstanding platform for budgeting, forecasting, analysis, and traditional reporting.)

Scalability--"Real" dashboards require a large initial investment in software and training. But you already own Excel. This means that you can start with a few personal dashboards, expand to a departmental dashboard system, and further expand to an enterprise system. Typically, as the dashboard solution moves from "me" to "we", the database moves from Excel to OLAP.

Interactivity--"Real" dashboard software offers great interactivity. Kyd Dashboard templates, on the other hand, typically report from Excel databases, which aren't as flexible. However, medium and large companies can gain interactivity by linking their dashboard workbooks to an Excel-friendly OLAP database.

Reading Time--"Real" dashboard software gives your managers the ability to surf your data warehouse...for hours and hours. That's seldom the best use of their time. But Kyd Dashboard reports are designed to offer quick and easy insight about business performance...which is the real purpose of most business reports.

Cute Dials and Gauges--Most "real" dashboards offer a wide variety of really clever dials and gauges. But Kyd Dashboards are limited to Excel's capabilities, and Excel doesn't offer gauges. However, even if Excel did offer such glorious bling, I would strongly urge you to avoid it. Most readers want to see many trends in performance, and those cute gauges take a lot of space merely to display one number.

User Flexibility--Most "real" dashboard software isn't very flexible for users. But if you want to change your Kyd Dashboard report, you can do so easily. It's only Excel, after all. (Of course, with "real" dashboards, programmers can give you any report you want...if you give them enough time and money.)

Time to Learn and Install--"Real" dashboard software takes a long time to learn and install. But you already know enough about Excel to use my Plug-N-Play Dashboard templates today and distribute your first dashboard report tomorrow.

In short, based on our success around the world, Excel dashboards have a place in both large and small companies.

The reason is simple: Excel dashboards offer many benefits that those expensive systems don't...and for a much, MUCH lower price.

If you need reporting flexibility, the ability to report any data you can find, or the ability to quicly print reports that offer your readers quick insight, using Excel dashboards is your best choice.

Kyd War Room provides a quick and simple way to create your dashboards. Finally, my e-book, Dashboard Reporting With Excel, explains how to create Excel dashboard reports from scratch.

Why wait? If you get my dashboard templates today you can print your first dashboard report by tomorrow.

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