Integrated dashboards

As part of a walk-up to last December’s Technology Conference and Expo, ASAE posted a helpful article on how to “Create an Integrated Dashboard System for a Small-Staff Association”.

(I have a colleague who feels I should clarify that the staff themselves are not necessarily small; they are few in number. Done.)

The post caught my eye partly because last June I became a board member of just such an association. As a result, I’ve become well-acquainted with the substantial work that two full-time staff at Association Media & Publishing must do to stay on top of issues and questions.

The author, Benjamin Butz, offers six useful tips:

  • Favor Excel over other, more complicated or less familiar tools
  • Connect across focused workbooks; don’t make any one workbook too complicated
  • Give everyone ownership (and expect it in return)
  • Write data once and use the program to perform any required calculations
  • Make the dashboard visually appealing, only as complicated as it needs to be, and no more.
  • Remember that any problem you have is probably not new; use search engines to seek options and answers.

Butz goes on to describe five dashboards (30,000-foot, membership, sponsorship, event and website) that he has found useful in his work.

If I had one qualifying comment, it would involve connecting across workbooks. In my experience, this approach works reasonably well when all of the documents are on the same server and unlikely to be moved. A cloud solution can help in this regard.

If a set of workbooks does need to be shared, the links between two or more workbooks can easily get lost when sending files outside of their original realm. Excel offers opportunities to re-establish those links, but the work required to do so reliably can be complicated.

Overall, the post offers useful guidelines for developing a reporting dashboard. Butz’s advice extends beyond associations, as well.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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