Chapter 14

Using Microsoft Excel for Balanced Scorecards and Dashboards

Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.

—Albert Einstein

Theoretical physicist


I’ll come right out and say it: IT departments don’t like Excel. I’ll admit that they do have some justifiable issues with using Excel for complex business systems, or as a Business Intelligence engine in some environments.

But the truth is, Excel is ubiquitous. According to my highly unscientific and impromptu polls over the last few years, Excel is the most-used software for Balanced Scorecards. And I would bet that Excel has far more operational dashboards than enterprise-level Business Intelligence systems.

So how do you handle this disparity between business users’ needs for fast, personally controlled analysis and IT needs for management, security, and control? Perhaps there is a middle ground.

Excel Is the Most Widely Used Balanced Scorecard Software

At a meeting of fellow Six Sigma Black Belts, I asked how many of the 32 Black Belts present were using Balanced Scorecards and operational dashboards created in Excel. Everyone raised their hand. Only one, working for a large corporation, had access to an IT-governed Business Intelligence system.

The night before I started writing this chapter, at a meeting of the Association of Strategic Planning, someone asked, “What software is everyone using for Balanced Scorecards?” Everyone in the room acknowledged using Excel. The Balanced Scorecard sponsor for a major bank ...

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