[Guest post by Cindy Olney, OERC]
Chandoo.org is a website that excels at Excel. More specifically, it provides an extensive collection of resources to help the rest of us use Excel effectively. There’s something for everyone at this website, whether you’re a basic or advanced user. Today, however. I want to specifically talk about Chandoo.org’s resources on building data dashboards with Excel.
Data dashboards are THE cool new data tools. A dashboard is a reporting format that allows stakeholders to view and interact with program or organizational data, exploring their own questions and interests. When the OERC offered a basic data dashboard webinar several years ago, we hit our class limit within hours of opening registration. If you are unfamiliar with data dashboards, here are slides from a presentation by Buhler, Lewellen, and Murphy that describe and provide samples of data dashboards. .
Tableau seems to have grabbed the limelight as the go-to software for data dashboard development. Yet it may not be accessible to many of our blog readers. It’s expensive and, unless you are a data analyst savant, Tableau may require a fair amount of training.
The good news is that Excel software is a perfectly fine tool for creating data dashboards. Some of the best known data visualization folks in the American Evaluation Association (AEA) are primarily Excel users. Stephanie Evergreen of Evergreen Data and Ann Emery write popular blogs about data visualizations built from Excel. At the AEA’s annual conference in November, I attended a presentation by Miranda Lee of EvaluATE on creating dashboards with Excel. She has some how-to dashboarding videos in the works that will be available to the public in the near future. (We’ll let our blog readers know when they become available.)
There are free resources all over the Internet if you are good at do-it-yourself training. However, for a modest fee, Chandoo.org offers a more systematic class on how to design a data dashboard with Excel. Depending on how many resources you want to take away from the class, the cost is between $97 (online viewing only) and $247 (downloads and extra modules). I have not taken the class yet, but I have heard positive feedback about Chandoo.org’s other courses and have plans to take this class in the near future.
If you are an Excel user but don’t see dashboard-building in your future, you still may find a wealth of useful tips and resources about Excel at Chandoo.org. My favorite is this list of 100+ Excel tips. I attended several data dashboard sessions at the AEA conference last month. The word on the street is that Microsoft is rising to the challenge to develop its data visualization capabilities. Apparently, each new release is better than the last. It may be getting easier to work dashboard magic with Excel.