Using an Excel Dashboard as Your BI Solution? 5 Drawbacks to Know

At 5000fish, we frequently refer to Microsoft Excel as the number one business intelligence (BI) tool in the world because it is the most used business application by far. On the surface, it’s a simple tool for even the most novice user. If you’re an Excel expert, you can program, script, and create amazing presentations and Excel dashboards. We’ve discovered that for many companies, Microsoft Excel is the primary tool used to communicate information among teams because it is so versatile.

However, there are several drawbacks to using an Excel dashboard as your BI solution. For smaller teams of three to five people, Excel might be a viable solution for disseminating information and data. Once your team grows and your need for information increases in size and frequency, the Microsoft Excel method of creating dashboards and reports can become complicated and cumbersome.

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5 Common Drawbacks to using an Excel Dashboard

Below are the five most common drawbacks to using an Excel dashboard as your primary dashboard solution:

  1. It requires manual effort to compile data. Have you ever looked at an Excel workbook with tons of data and multiple sheets inside? Though the data appears to be nice and clean, complete with graphs and dashboards, any Excel user knows that workbook took hours upon hours of copying and pasting data to achieve.
  2. There’s a lot of room for human error. As the amount of data grows within an Excel spreadsheet, there is increased room for human error and formula errors because of the manual process of copying and pasting data into the workbook. This makes it very easy to fudge numbers and data either unintentionally or intentionally, which compromises the data’s integrity.
  3. The data isn’t shown in real-time. Unless you’re a developer who can connect Excel to a database and build all of the scripts and macros that automatically refresh your data, the data in your Excel spreadsheet is not going to be in real-time. Therefore by default, the data you’re looking at within Excel is old data.
  4. It’s challenging to collaborate around data. If you’re using Excel as your main data dashboard and are sharing it via Dropbox or email, it’s challenging to manage the version of the excel spreadsheet that everyone is seeing. This makes it more difficult to collaborate around the data, because stakeholders may be looking at different reports. It’s much easier to collaborate around the data so that conclusions can be drawn and decisions can be made when everyone is looking at the same report.
  5. There’s a lack of security. If you have an Excel dashboard in your possession, you have full access to the data within it. This can become a major issue when sensitive information is being shared both internally and externally because there is no way to secure this data (don’t trust that built-in spreadsheet password, it’s easy to bypass).

Bottom Line if You’re Using an Excel Dashboard

Companies that need more business intelligence functionality than Microsoft Excel can provide have two options: First, companies that want to transition to a product that leverages Excel can use Microsoft Power BI for more complex reporting. Microsoft Power BI has eliminated most of the above drawbacks, however, companies will likely need to bring in a Microsoft Power BI expert to help them navigate its complexities, which requires a lot of time and money.

The second alternative is to transition to a self-service, agile tool like Yurbi. For teams that generate and update reports frequently, purchasing a true BI system that easily creates and updates reports is well worth the investment because of the man hours saved and the security gained. A BI solution will remove a lot of the human error in data calculations and increase data integrity. It will also allow data to be updated in real-time and for users to collaborate more easily around the data.

If you’re searching for a secure BI solution that can produce dashboards and reports in real-time, contact us for a demo!

Click here to download “10 Signs You Need A New BI Solution”

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