excel kpi dashboard feature image in clickup blog

How to Create a KPI Dashboard in Excel (Free Templates and Examples)

A KPI dashboard is one of the most powerful data visualization tools to show progress toward business objectives and opportunities for strategic growth. But creating a dashboard in Excel comes with a set of productivity and usage challenges. It’s a time-consuming task!

In our step-by-step Excel Dashboard guide, we learned how to build a standard dashboard from the ground up. We’re back with practical steps to take it to the next level! This guide will cover:

  • How to manage your time better throughout the Excel dashboard build process
  • Which high-level metrics to include in your Excel dashboards for specific audiences
  • Free Excel dashboard templates to get started
  • An alternative to Excel for mobile data visualization

Ready when you are! 🏁

4 Steps to Building an Excel KPI Dashboard

An Excel KPI dashboard is a collection of various graphs and charts organized in a spreadsheet. It represents the most critical key performance indicators to a specific audience

Busy teams are looking for powerful project dashboards to accurately measure projects, trends, and financial metrics in one place. This high-level visibility into the operations and growth of the business is critical to driving immediate actions. 

Let’s put on our strategic thinking caps and dive into best practices to 10X your Excel dashboard preparation and build! 📊

Step 1: Ask the right questions to define the right type of KPI dashboard

You will save so much time during the process by making the proper preparations. So before you start any work in Excel, ask these critical questions to your dashboard audience: 

What is the purpose of the KPI dashboard?

Will this be used to share insights or drive action? 

What version of Excel do they use?

Excel has improved its interface over the years, but some features are not carried over, or they might be moved to different places on the menu bar. This will affect the accessibility—and more importantly, the functionality—of the Excel dashboard.

What specific key metrics linked to business goals must be included?

KPIs will be different depending on your audience and their business function. Remember, too much information will cause clutter and confusion! For a list of KPIs broken down by teams, check out ClickUp’s KPI Examples guide!

Where will the KPI dashboard be displayed?

The design and composition of the Excel dashboard will be highly influenced by where it lives. For example, if it’s presented on a mounted TV screen in the office, you’ll have to resize the charts accordingly, so it’s readable from afar.

Will this be monitored daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly?

If the Excel dashboard needs to be updated frequently, you might want to consider an intuitive tool that will update in real-time. The likelihood of human error increases when you have to go back in and rework data on your Excel dashboard.

Kpi dashboard examples for sales data in clickup
Set an automatic refresh interval for every five minutes on a ClickUp Dashboard

Step 2: Break down expectations for data collection 

We often don’t consider how time-consuming collecting information becomes until we open a broken file format. And just like that, an extra two hours are dedicated to correcting this one file. Share with your sources how the data should be formatted and saved, so you’re not making any guesses!

Step 3: Audit and organize the raw data

Now it’s time to get your data into Excel! Open a new Excel workbook and create three separate tabs:

  • Raw data tab to host the information you’ve collected from your sources
  • Calculations tab to build and organize your Pivot charts
  • Dashboard tab to share and present the final KPI dashboard 

Next, roll up your sleeves and go through the raw data to fix errors, eliminate duplicates, remove non-printable characters, fix text columns, and clean extra spaces.

Tip: Avoid a looming tech headache by sorting the data from the highest to the lowest range so you can work through this process efficiently. 

Step 4: Choose the graphs to best represent your key performance indicators

Here is a breakdown of the most common charts used in KPI dashboards: 

chart describing the most common charts used in excel kpi dashboards
Chart TypeChart DescriptionUse This Chart When…
Column chartDisplays the horizontal (category) axis and values along the vertical (value axis)You want to illustrate comparisons between items
Pie chartShows the item sizes in one data series. The data points in a pie chart are shown as a percentage of the whole pieThere is only one set of data series with more than two categories, and no values are negative.
Line chartOrganizes the categories along the vertical axis and values along the horizontal axisYou want to show how the data developed over a short period of time
Bar chartIllustrates comparisons among individual itemsValues are durations
(estimates vs actual)
Area chartPlots change over time and draws attention to the total value across a trendYou want to show how the data developed over a long period of time

If you want a preview of what the data will look like in chart form, use the Recommended charts tool from the Insert tab. Excel will analyze the data and display different charts with your plotted data. 

Power pivot Excel charting dashboard examples
Preview a plotted chart table in Excel

Tip: Before you roll out the Excel dashboard to the entire group, ask a few team members to give you actionable feedback for improvements. The two primary goals of this step are to confirm if the KPI dashboard clearly summarizes the KPIs and if there are any follow-up questions to take into consideration for the next iteration. 

Bonus: KPIs vs OKRs

Free Excel KPI Dashboard Templates & Examples

If you’re looking for dashboard templates to jumpstart your process, download these from Geek Dashboard or use them as inspiration!

1. Marketing Dashboard Template

2. Executive Dashboard Template

3. Sales Management Dashboard Template

4. HR Dashboard KPI Template

We have more Excel productivity tips and templates if you’re looking for more project management guides!

Limitations of Building KPI Dashboards in Excel

The reality is, not everyone uses Excel. It’s a blocker in the collaboration process, and manually building individual Excel charts is a daunting task that should have the opposite effect. Data becomes outdated quickly in static spreadsheets, and the lack of integrations makes Excel a standalone app. This is a huge sign Excel dashboards are not the most effective solution for business intelligence. And others feel the same way.

In a McKinsey Global Survey, results showed high-performing companies are much more likely than their peers to have deployed a modern data architecture. So what should companies do to outperform their competitors? McKinsey says this: 

  • Make data available
  • Treat data as a product with real return on investment
  • Take an agile approach to data transformation 
clickup is the best excel dashboard alternative to build dynamic charts for KPIs
Create a visual representation of key metrics for your entire team in ClickUp

Build a New Standard of Reporting With ClickUp

If you think about it, KPI dashboards in Excel have more to do with translating data from multiple sources than actually taking action from those insights. This is where we need to be cautious because busy work can be mistaken for productivity.

Making the attention shift is easy to do—with the right software. A productivity platform like ClickUp includes all the tools and integrations you’ll need to use data and charts for different audiences.

Try it for yourself! Import your work from almost anywhere with ClickUp’s flexible and powerful Excel & CSV import feature. 

How to Import a Data File Into ClickUp 

We have an on-hand file for you to download if you want to follow along! 📁

Step 1: Choose the Excel & CSV option from your Workspace settings to upload a file or manually enter your data

import data from an excel file into clickup to create a kpi dashboard
via ClickUp

Step 2: Double-check your data looks good in the preview window and map your data to ClickUp fields

Mapping the data to a custom field in clickup
via ClickUp

Step 3: Submit the reviewed file for importing

review the data set before importing the excel file into clickup
via ClickUp

Step 4: Select the Workspace location to import into and finalize the last details 

use the drop down list to finalize import details into clickup
via ClickUp

Step 5: Customize your columns by choosing a Custom field to map your data in the best view

update the actual values into custom fields in clickup
via ClickUp

Step 6: Check the progress of your Excel file importing into ClickUp

clickup will automatically update your workspace with the imported excel file
via ClickUp

Step 7: Open the location you selected during the import process in the navigation sidebar

open the imported excel file from your clickup workspace
via ClickUp

There you go! Your data is sharable, safe, and secure with ClickUp. 🔒

Creating KPI Dashboards is just as fast and efficient—without the tech headache! You have the option to use a Dashboard template in ClickUp or start from scratch. 

create your own kpi dashboard template in clickup
via ClickUp

Dashboards in ClickUp are collaboration-friendly, so you can connect with your teams, stakeholders, and external partners directly from the Dashboard using customizable widgets—the building blocks of Dashboards. Beyond the common charts, ClickUp offers specialized widgets for time tracking, rich text blocks, conversations, and embedding options. 

save a kpi dashboard template in clickup and share with others
Build high-level views of everything going on in your Workspace

We hope this guide has taken some weight off of your shoulders about KPI dashboards! Still have questions? We are here for you 24/7 with live support, on-demand webinars, and online learning to help you take charge of your data! 📈

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