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KPI Dashboards – Compare 2 Decision Parameters [Part 5 of 6]



This is a Guest Post by Robert on Visualization Techniques for KPI Dashboards using Excel.

This 6 Part Tutorial on Management Dashboards Teaches YOU:

Creating a Scrollable List View in Dashboard
Add Ability to Sort on Any KPI to the Dashboard
Highlight KPIs Based on Percentile
Add Microcharts to KPI Dashboards
Compare 2 KPIs in the Dashboards Using Form Controls
Show the Distribution of a KPI using Box Plots

As you all know dashboards provide “Information at a glance” with often the power to “deep dive to analyze”. Most dashboards succeed in providing information. But the exceptional ones succeed in “at a glance” part of it while maintaining the deep diving capabilities. In this and next post we will discuss 2 powerful visualizations that can be added to your dashboards to provide better insights at a glance. If you are not familiar with excel based dashboards we recommend reading the dashboards using excel.

The challenge

Part 3 of the series already displays parts of the relationships within the 5 KPI data sets by highlighting the 10% best and 10% poorest performers of the 4 KPI that are not selected as the sort criteria. But what if we want to have a closer look on how the KPI are related to each other? We need another analytical feature that enables the user to compare the complete data sets at a glance in a graphical visualization.

The solution

An XY scatter chart is the best way to analyze and visualize the relationship and correlation between two sets of quantitative data.

An XY scatter chart, however, is 2-dimensional and therefore limited to compare only two data sets.

Since we have 5 different KPI, we would need 10 different charts to display all possible combinations of KPI pairs on our dashboard. This would need too much real estate on the dashboard and it would probably be too complex and unclear for the users of the dashboard.

Again we need an interactive, flexible way to display the data in one single chart and let the user decide which 2 KPI to display (see above). Additionally we want to highlight the data points that are displayed on the dashboard table and of course we want to do this without VBA.


The implementation

Download Excel Dashboard Visualization Techniques [part 1] workbook and read on how this is implemented.

  1. Create an input list form control with the names of the 5 KPI (calculation!E10:E14)
  2. Define two cells to store the results of the combo boxes to select the displayed KPI (calculation!E16:E17)
  3. Insert two combo boxes (from the forms control toolbar) on the dashboard and link the input lists and the cell links accordingly.
  4. using-offset-fetching-2-series-data-kpi-dashboard-excelAdd 4 extra columns (calculation!AS:AT and calculation!AV:AW) and create OFFSET formulas to fill these new cell ranges with the values of the selected KPI (i.e. using the values in calculation!E16:E17, see 2.).
  5. Create an XY scatter chart with two data series (data source: the 4 new cell ranges, see 4.). Format the first series as circles without fill colors and the second series as circles with a grey fill color, add a legend to the chart and bring the chart to the dashboard.
  6. Reposition the chart on the dashboard (remember this trick: keeping the ALT-key pressed during resizing and repositioning makes the chart auto-fit to the cell grid underneath) and position the combo boxes.
  7. If you want to, you could easily add a trend line to the chart and display the equation and/or the R-squared value for deeper analysis of the correlation between the two KPIs.

That’s it. Play around with the new analytical feature: change the selected two KPIs, change the sort criteria, toggle the sort order or scroll up and down the dashboard table and watch the changes on the XY scatter chart.

What’s next? – Last Part of the KPI Dashboards using Excel

Make sure you have downloaded the Excel Dashboard Visualization Techniques [part 1] workbook

Go to next post: Part 6: Show the Distribution of a KPI using Box Plots

Also, Checkout our Excel Dashboards Page for more examples and resources.

Chandoo’s note: Thanks Robert for another excellent post.

Please leave your comments, questions and love here, Robert is a regular reader of this blog he will be happy to respond to you as early as possible.

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27 Responses to “KPI Dashboards – Compare 2 Decision Parameters [Part 5 of 6]”

  1. Fabrice says:

    Thanks again Robert & Chandoo.

    No doubt it will be a success among your readers.
    I would just have changed the color ot the plain dots to red, for better visual impact.


  2. derek2 says:

    Something wrong here, kindacaptcha failed, so my original comment is not displayed, but attempts to repost trigger a "duplicate comment" complaint. Let's see if this helps :

    I wrote (paraphrased)
    This is great
    Just one suggestion
    Change the "displayed 10" label to read "Top 10 KPIX", where KPIX is the KPI being displayed

  3. Robert says:


    thanks for your comment and the suggestion. You can easily change the name of the data series / the legend entry in cell AV21 on sheet calculation. But I would not recommend to do so, because the data points are only the TOP 10 for the KPI which is the selected sort criteria.

    E.g. if you sort the table by KPI 1 and select KPI 2 and KPI 3 to be displayed in the scatter chart, these are not the TOP 10...

  4. derek says:

    Robert, am I misunderstanding you, or are you misunderstanding me? I'm suggesting that the label be programmed to name the KPI which is the selected sort criterion.

  5. Robert says:


    probably I was misunderstanding you. But I am afraid, I think I still don't get it. I thought you were suggesting to change the legend of the xy scatter. It seems as if this is not what you want.

    Are you suggesting to change the items of the drop-down-lists so you can see which KPI is selected for sort in the drop-down-lists?

  6. Dan says:


    Is it possible to add so that the name of the product will be displayed when you hold the cursor over any of the data points in the scatter chart?


  7. derek says:

    I was suggesting that cell Calculation!$AV$21 be changed to read

    ="Top 10 "&INDEX(E10:E14,mySortCriteria)

    I realise that the table is right above the chart, so you can see how the top 10 is selected, but that's still what I'd do.

  8. derek says:

    Ah, and now I've played with the dashboard some more, I see that the 10 displayed in the table are *not always the top ten*, because you can scroll down. That was the bit I hadn't realised, sorry.

  9. Robert says:


    thanks again for your suggestions and for the discussion you started!

    After reading your comments, I think I already understood your suggestion the first time: You would change the name of the data series from 'Displayed 10' to 'TOP 10 KPI X' where X is the number of the KPI which is the selected sort criterion.

    The workbook is meant to be downloaded and used. And of course: please feel free to do with it what you want to do.

    But – again – I would not recommend your suggestion for several reasons:

    The first reason is the one you already mentioned in your last comment: You do not always see the 'TOP 10' because the user might have scrolled down.

    Second: The XY scatter chart always shows two KPIs at a time. Naming the data series e.g. 'TOP 10 KPI 1' would not be appropriate since the chart shows e.g. KPI 1 and KPI 2.

    Third: It is getting even worse if you sort the table by KPI 1 and select KPI 2 and KPI 3 to be displayed in the XY scatter chart. The chart would then show the data of KPI 2 and KPI 3, but the legend would tell 'TOP 10 KPI 1'. This would be incorrect, misleading and confusing, wouldn’t it?

  10. Robert says:


    thanks for your comment and question.

    If you 'hover' with the mouse over a data point on the chart, Excel will only show the name of the series ('All' or 'Displayed 10') and the values of the two KPIs (x-value and y-value). If I understand your request correctly, you would like to see the name of the item also (in our example the product name).

    This is not possible with the version posted for download.

    I can think of 2 ways of realizing what you are suggesting:

    1. Without VBA

    You could use one data series per data point and assign the according product name as the name of the series. If you are hovering over a data point then, Excel will show the name of the series (product name) and the two values. But this would mean that you have to build a chart with 110 different series…

    2. Using VBA

    You could use Chart.GetChartElement to display additional data (in a text box for example) according to the data point underneath your mouse.

    I haven’t checked the internet for a sample file with VBA code, but there is an example for this in John Walkenbach’s book on Excel Charts (including the file on the CD):


  11. Robert says:


    Ajay over at databison.com just published a very nice implementation of what you are looking for, including the file for download. Here is the link:


  12. [...] dashboard tutorials: Creating KPI (Key Performance Indicator) Dashboards in Excel - 4 part tutorial Making Visualizations for Dashboards Too much data? Use tables [...]

  13. [...] With the dashboards using excel - 4 post series here at Pointy Haired Dilbert we developed a small excel based dashboard that enables the user to scroll within a larger set of data, to sort by a selected KPI with one click, to identify the best and poorest performers with quartiles and to visualize the data, the averages and the targets with bar-line-combination charts. Also we have learned how to improve this dashboard by adding an interactive series comparison chart. [...]

  14. [...] Excel Dashboard Visualization Tips - Part 1, Part 2 [09 October] [...]

  15. [...] on Any KPI to the Dashboard Highlight KPIs Based on Percentile Add Microcharts to KPI Dashboards Compare 2 KPIs in the Dashboards Using Form Controls Show the Distribution of a KPI using Box [...]

  16. [...] on Any KPI to the Dashboard Highlight KPIs Based on Percentile Add Microcharts to KPI Dashboards Compare 2 KPIs in the Dashboards Using Form Controls Show the Distribution of a KPI using Box [...]

  17. Mike says:

    This is interesting...

    How would one work in Product Categories. I would rather compare to product categories and have a radio selection (or another drop down) for the KPI I want to be used in the comparison.

    Any thoughts on that?

  18. Robert says:


    I am not sure that understand this correctly: You want to assign one of let's say 5 categories to each product and then use the XY scatter chart to compare all 2 selected product categories for one selected KPI?

    I.e. a data point on the XY scatter would show the KPI 1 of category 1 on the X-axis and KPI 1 of category 2 on the Y-axis? Is this what you are looking for?

  19. Michael says:

    @Robert - yes, that is exactly what I am looking for.

  20. Robert says:


    I am sorry, but I still don't get it.

    Each product is assigned to one category, right? Let's assume product 1 is in category 1 and product 2 is in category 2. KPI 1 for product 1 is 100 and KPI 1 for product 2 is 200.

    Now let's assume we select KPI 1 to be displayed and category 1 for the x-axis and category 2 for the y-axis.

    What is one single data point on the chart supposed to represent? If I understood your request correctly, it should be the point (100,200) on the XY scatter, but this requires that each product of a category has to be assigned to one certain product of another category. More precisely, each product has to be linked to 4 other products (one of each other category). I can't think of a use case where you would have such a link between products of different categories.

    If you do not have such links between the products (which would be something like an assignment matrix), you can only consolidate all products (probably using AVERAGE) and compare the average of category 1 to the average of category 2. But then you would only have one single data point on your chart and this doesn't make sense from my point of view.

    Or have I got the wrong end of the stick?

  21. Scott says:

    Hi Robert, this a such a great tool! Is there a way to filter the scrollable rows as you would on the entire data table? or in other words have the offset formula show only visible rows. If so, would there be a way to have the dropdown filter on the scrollable section and not in the actual (entire) data tab?

    Thanks a ton.


  22. Scott says:

    Hi Robert, Love your dashboard!! Is there a way to filter the data on master data sheet from the scrollable section and to have the offset formula show the first (or next) visible cell?

    thanks a ton.


  23. Robert says:


    thanks for your comments. Actually you can apply a filter directly on the dashboard and it should work. However, Excel’s filter simply hides the non-relevant rows and your problem would be a messed up scroll.

    Thus, I do not recommend using Excel's standard filter. Instead, implement your own filter. Have a look at this example workbook for instance (already provided in my comment 33 on the fourth part of the series):


    I hope this will point you into the right direction.

  24. Neko Kawaii says:

    1 word


  25. Indrajeet says:

    Thanks for sharing!

    'Share your knowledge.
    It’s a way to achieve immortality.'

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