I was in a meeting with a client, going over some of the functionalities and layout of a report we created for them when a concern was brought up – while a report was great at providing granular data, it comes at the cost of speed and flexibility.
What do I mean by that? Let’s say, for example, a financial manager runs a Profit & Loss report for their office in New York, in the year of 2019. Although this report shows a plethora of information, what if the user is only interested in seeing the generated revenue? And they want to compare it to a previous year? They would have to locate the revenue value for 2019, record it, and then rerun the report for 2018. And if they want a different office? Every time the data set changes, the report must be re-retrieved!
Like I said, while a report is great at displaying in-depth information, it is not optimal if someone just wants a specific number quickly. Herein lies in niche filled by the Xcelerate dashboard.
Introducing: Dashboard Widgets
In the Xcelerate we primarily use Bar Graphs, Pie Charts, Text Widgets, and Progress Bars. Each serves its own purpose in data display. If you want to see how much budget you’ve used throughout the year, a progress bar can be exactly what you’re looking for.
Perhaps you want to compare the expenses accrued by each HR Title grouping in the firm. In a pie chart, hovering over any ‘slice’ will show the number associated with said grouping.
Unlike a report, a dashboard widget can’t show all the numbers in a report, not even close. But they are great at showing one number in an easy-to-read visual. Dashboards are extremely customizable in color, shape, size, and even the type (Bar charts, Pie graphs, text etc.). And if you want to change the data intersection, all it takes is a click of a button.
Take this Expenses Per Year graph. If a user wants to see the data for another office, for example, all they would need to do is click the filter icon (outlined in red) and select a different Office drop-down. No need to have to re-run a report – this happens instantly.
There are some limitations of course. Users cannot ‘interact’ with dashboard widgets – they can’t input their own formulas, run macros, or have data written back. But when used in conjunction with Xcelerate reports and worksheets, they provide great coverage in utility and user-experience.