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Dashboard creation in SharePoint - What, How and Why?

24 November, 2021 Education

Dashboard creation in SharePoint - What, How and Why?

 

As an incredibly versatile web-based collaboration platform, SharePoint has remained an important tool for many different companies, from smaller local businesses to larger enterprises. Even today, SharePoint's capabilities in different collaboration-based fields are vast and extensive. A good example of such capabilities is SharePoint dashboards, providing the ability to perform many different tasks related to centralized administration.

 

Generally speaking, the main purpose of a dashboard in SharePoint is to provide an overview of several different sources of information in such a form that it's easy to digest. Possibly the most important parameter that SharePoint is capable of providing is KPI or Key Performance Indicator. The problem here is that calculating or visualizing KPIs is a process that is performed via aggregating and calculating data from multiple sources in real-time.

 

On the other hand, there are still two main versions of SharePoint out there - SharePoint Online and SharePoint on-premise (2016, 2019, etc.), and SharePoint Online users don't have as many problems with data aggregation as on-premise SharePoint users have. The difference here lies in the way the aggregation process works.

 

When it comes to on-premise SharePoint versions, the entirety of the aggregation processes would be performed at the company's own servers - which is known to cause some delays in viewing data since SharePoint pulls all of it at the same time. Alternatively, SharePoint Online users have a much easier life in this regard, since all of the calculations are done server-side, which makes the problem of delays before aggregating data that much less significant.

 

Since the entire point of a dashboard is to provide a quick overview of the situation in your company or in a specific part of it (including both positive parts and downsides) - to help stakeholders with making decisions that are time-sensitive, for example - SharePoint Online seems like a far better choice from this perspective.

 

Another important point for dashboards in SharePoint is what is being shown in the first place - the data. It's not uncommon for information gathering to be the hardest part of the process - when dashboard generation with SharePoint seems easy in comparison.

 

The main point of a dashboard, in general, is all about being representative of the current state of a company - with the addition of some other information, be it your future goals, your up-to-date status as an organization, and more. Just throwing a bunch of indicators in one place is not necessarily a good representation of how the company is doing right now.

 

One more topic of consideration here is objectivity. It's not uncommon for dashboards to be used to make a lot of decisions, some of which could affect the entire company as a whole in the future. From this standpoint, one mistake could lead an entire company to its downfall, and this is why everything has to be objective and representative of the current state of a company.

 

A good starting point for such dashboards is your business' strongest parameter - employee count, revenue, number of resolved support tickets, you name it. After that, try and expand this parameter by finding out what led to your strongest parameter being the way it is - it can be a number of generated leads, number of employment offers, quality of education and training, or pretty much anything else.

 

Then try and work out what affects these particular parameters, and work your way through it all. This could easily work as a starting point for your dashboard and you can build off of that to create a comprehensive but fair dashboard for your company.

 

Now that we have the theoretical part of a dashboard out of the way, we can start working on the visuals for our dashboard. There is a wide array of different ways to create a layout of your data to generate a dashboard out of it, but it's not particularly surprising that one of the easiest ways to do it is using another Microsoft product - Microsoft Excel.

 

The process itself is fairly simple - all you have to do is to fill an Excel file with all of your data and upload that file into SharePoint, and you'll have yourself a SharePoint dashboard in no time. It also helps that Excel on its own is an incredibly versatile tool, offering many different ways to visualize information, including diagrams, tables, and more.

 

Information visualization is a relatively creative job, and it's not uncommon for people to run out of ideas when working on a dashboard or some other similar task. Luckily enough, Internet has no shortage of various examples of diagrams, charts, and dashboards - you're always just a single Google search away from a practically endless source of inspiration.

 

After you're done setting up visuals for your dashboard in MS Excel, it's now time to upload it into SharePoint. In this example, we're using SharePoint Online as a reference, so our first step would be to upload said Excel file into our SharePoint document library. Additionally, it's not a bad idea to check if the Excel file that you've just uploaded has its default cursor position set at A1 to avoid various page display and visualization problems.

 

After that, you're free to create a dashboard page out of your newly uploaded Excel file - you might need to change this file's permissions for that, though. In our scenario, we can easily add a new web part in SharePoint by clicking a plus icon in our SharePoint Online interface - and the object type that we're looking for is File Viewer, which would allow us to showcase a dashboard we made using an Excel file.

 

That being said, Excel is not the only option on the market - and it does not have some of the more unusual tools for dashboard creation that you may or may not need for your company. This is where the extensive third-party charting tools market comes in, offering a wide variety of dashboard creators from different software providers - including both standalone companies and massive corporations like Google.

 

You can learn more about the topic of dashboard creation in SharePoint in this article -https://blog.virtosoftware.com/dashboard-in-sharepoint/.

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