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Excel® 2007 Dashboards & Reports For Dummies® by Michael Alexander

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Chapter 1. Getting in the Dashboard State of Mind

In his song, "New York State of Mind," Billy Joel laments the differences between California and New York. In this homage to the Big Apple, he implies a mood and a feeling that comes with thinking about New York. I admit it's a stretch, but I'll to extend this analogy to Excel — don't laugh.

In Excel, the differences between building a dashboard and creating standard table-driven analyses are as great as the differences between California and New York. To approach a dashboarding project, you truly have to get into the dashboard state of mind. As you'll come to realize in the next few chapters, dashboarding requires far more preparation than standard Excel analyses. It calls for closer communication with business leaders, stricter data modeling techniques, and the following of certain best practices. It's beneficial to have a base familiarity with fundamental dashboarding concepts before venturing off into the mechanics of building a dashboard.

In this chapter, you get a solid understanding of these basic dashboard concepts and design principles as well as what it takes to prepare for a dashboarding project.

Defining Dashboards and Reports

It isn't difficult to use report and dashboard interchangeably. In fact, the line between reports and dashboards frequently gets muddied. I've seen countless reports that have been referred to as dashboards just because they included a few charts. Likewise, I've seen many examples of what could be considered ...

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