Awesome Excel KPI dashboard templates to download…
What does 'KPI dashboard' mean?
Dashboards get their name from car/automobile dashboards. The idea is to provide you with performance tracking, quickly, at a glance and with minimal mental effort.
A KPI dashboard shows you your current status, where the organisation is heading and what issues and opportunities exist, without having to wade through raw data. (Here's a resource if you need a quick primer on what a KPIs, key performance indicators, are)
Why use a KPI dashboard at all?
A well designed KPI dashboard should show you the most important metrics and measures in an easy-to-read format, so you can:
- Stay on top of what matters most by focusing on the key metrics that are most important to your business.
- Make informed decisions based on real-time data, rather than relying on outdated reports.
- See how your business is performing over time and identify areas for improvement.
- Make sure everyone is working towards common goals and objectives.
In short, a KPI dashboard is a helpful tool for managers and decision makers to stay informed about the health of their business and make data-driven decisions using an 'at a glance' summary.
Why use Excel to build your KPI dashboard?
Although many professionals roll their eyes and groan when Excel dashboards are mentioned, Excel is a great tool for building a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) dashboard because it's user-friendly, flexible, and widely available.
Yes, there are limitations in terms of robustness and scaleability, compared with database+BI tools (e.g. PowerBI), but it can make a fantastic initial solution for simple applications (particularly if you can leverage a KPI dashboard template) and a great prototyping tool for more dashboard implementation using more powerful, robust and expensive tools further down the line.
Why you should avoid using Excel macros and visual basic (VB) in your KPI dashboards
Although the power of Excel can be extended using macros and Visual Basic, there are several good reasons why you might want to avoid using either in your spreadsheets:
- Security risks: Visual Basic and macros can potentially be exploited by hackers, who can use them to gain access to sensitive data or execute malicious code.
- Compatibility issues: Visual Basic and macros may not be compatible with newer versions of Excel, or with other software that is used to view or edit the spreadsheet.
- Complexity: Visual Basic and macros can be difficult to understand and maintain, especially for people who are not familiar with programming. This can make it difficult for others to modify or update the spreadsheet, or to understand how it works.
- Performance issues: Spreadsheets that use Visual Basic or macros may be slower to open or calculate, especially if they contain a large amount of data or complex formulas.
- Maintainability: VB and macros tend to be written by 'enthusiasts' and often have little to no documentation, unconventional structure and complexity. When the original creator of the spreadsheets moves on, it can be a nightmare to maintain and fix them.
So, avoid using Visual Basic and macros in Excel spreadsheets, if you possibly can. Instead, consider using built-in Excel functions or other tools that are less complex and less risky. You can go a very long way using the 'vanilla' functionality of Excel and this is likely to save you huge amounts of pain later on. Of course, each KPI dashboard template provided here follows this advice and only uses standard functions.
Getting a head start building your KPI dashboard
Building dashboards is something many of us have to do on a regular basis. Designing dashboards is often a gut-feel exercise.
Are you are fed up with debates about which colours to use, how much data to put on a graph and when to use colour?
The good new is that there are research-based principles that give you really clear steps you must take to create clear and easy to read dashboards.
I'm sharing these free Excel KPI dashboard templates as a great foundation for building your own dashboards. I provide some articles on this website explaining the design principles behind clear dashboards and if you want to go into a lot more depth I suggest you download my e-book on the subject - The Brilliant Excel Dashboards Manual.
Tell me about the free templates, any catches?
No, these are fully functioning, each download is carefully designed, code-free Excel KPI dashboard template. The only limitation on their use is that they are not licensed for resale.
How to turbocharge your next dashboard
If you decide that you would like to extend them you are free to do so, we would recommend that you check out the full Brilliant Excel Dashboard Kit. The kit offers these advantage...
- Prebuilt chart types covering daily, weekly and monthly time periods
- Both US (mm/dd/yy) and European (dd/mm/yy) formats
- US (letter, tabloid) and European (A4, A3) page sizes covered for prototyping tools and print layouts
- A library of many more chart types
- A full prototyping toolkit, that just needs PowerPoint
- 85 minutes of live demonstration videos
Free to download KPI dashboard template examples...
These KPI dashboard examples are free to download and use, you just need to register for access. Each one has been carefully designed for fast setup, easy maintenance and exceptional usability. They are built using the Brilliant Excel Dashboard Kit.
Free Excel Manufacturing KPI Dashboard template
The Excel dashboard KPI selection for this starter pack covers five key indicators for a production environment. Identifying losses, using OEE and Yield KPIs are the vital ingredient for any process improvement programme...
- Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
- Efficiency losses by issue
- Material Yield
- Safety - accidents
- Safety - near misses
For more production key performance indicators check out these manufacturing KPI definitions.
Free Excel Customer service KPI Dashboard template
This simple customer service dashboard covers four customer service KPIs...
- Total calls handled
- Average speed to answer
- First touch resolution rate
- Feedback scores (customer satisfaction)
For more production key performance indicators check out these customer service KPI definitions. Further free resources, more focused on social media marketing and the online business side of things, but also covering customer satisfaction, customer lifetime value and several other KPIs can be found here. Download your call center metrics dashboard excel template here...
Free Excel Sales Dashboard template
This simple sales dashboard covers four essential starter KPIs. Once you have implemented these four valuable measures, the module approach used in this free dashboard will allow you expand and extend the dashboard...
- Total value of sales
- Marketing return on investment (RoI)
- Order value per customer
- Lead conversion rate
How to use your free Excel KPI dashboard template
Time Needed: 1 hour
What you will need
Using your template
Step 1 - Download and rename your template
Head down this page, register and use the download link we will email to you for the template you are looking for.
Make a copy of that template and give it a meaningful file name.
Step 2 - Enter your data
Each KPI has it's own data entry tab (identified with 'Name of KPI Input'). The data does not have to be entered in date order. The spreadsheet will automatically sort the data and set the date range. However, you can only have one row of data per time interval (week, in the sample sheets)
Step 3 - Set your report date
Head to the tab labelled 'Set report dates here'
- Dashboard period end - This date is used for set-period charts, such as financial year end
- Most recent week - This the date of the last Friday in the time period you would like to report on
Step 4 - View or print your report
Head to the tab labelled 'Dashboard'
The whole sheet should be populated automatically based on the reporting date and data you have entered. The only reason you should ever need to alter this page is to re-design the layout, not update the content.
Step 5 - Cut, Paste and Improve!
It's unlikely these KPI dashboard examples will exactly meet your needs in their current state. They are intended to provide the basic building blocks for a real-world dashboard. Feel free to cut and paste these dashboards to meet your needs.
Don't forget to check out my dashboard design tips too. Looking for some online training on dashboard and report design? Check out my dashboard design course on KPI.academy. If you come up with something special, that you are proud of and would like to share, please feel free to email it in and we will publish it on this page.
How these Excel KPI dashboard templates were built
Each KPI dashboard was built using the Brilliant Excel Dashboard toolkit. Find out more about the kit.
How to extend and customise these KPI dashboard templates
Each KPI dashboard template uses standard Excel functions, so feel free to examine, tweak and extend the sheets in the same way you would with any other sheet.
If you are in a hurry and would like access to a complete library of tools to accelerate your work, then I really recommend you check out the Brilliant Excel Toolkit. There's a huge library of ready to use Excel sheets, support materials and templates, with no license fee or complexity.
Going deeper: Principles of good KPI dashboard design
There are four simple principles listed below that underpin the design approach used in each free KPI dashboard template.
If you follow these principles when designing your KPI dashboard to present your business data, you will be off to a great start!
- If the reader does not understand the dashboard, chart or table, it’s probably the designer’s fault.
- Do not tax the reader’s memory. Make as much of your data as visual as possible, but accept that some people must see some numbers as well.
- Do not confuse your end-user. Keep the tables and charts as sparse and simple as humanly possible.
- If your end-user needs to use instructions to understand the document then your document has failed in its purpose.
Memory and report design
The challenge with KPI dashboards is that we are trying to convey an insanely large amount of information in a very small space.
A KPI dashboard I built for a client a couple of years ago had nearly 2,000 pieces of information on an A3 sheet and yet was quick and easy to understand.
To be able to transmit this amount of information without completely overwhelming the reader we need to use some techniques based on an understanding of the way that humans process information.
Too much information for our primitive brains
The challenge is that our brains are designed for hunting, gathering and not getting eaten. We are now trying to use those brains to assimilate the kind of information we weren't really designed for. However, some of those legacy attributes can really help with KPI dashboard design (and our KPI dashboard templates have been designed with these principles in mind)
We see with our brain
The key thing to remember is that we see with our brains not just our eyes. Yes, the eye transmits a signal but it's the brain that makes sense of it.
For the data to be processed we need to not just see it, our brain needs to focus on it and subject it to conscious thought.
It is only when we pay attention to the information that it stands any chance of being processed or stored. It's a bit of a safety mechanism that makes sure our brains are not overwhelmed.
Memory is crucial
Memory plays a key part in understanding. And I'm not just talking about the type of memory that enables you to know Great Aunt Mabel's phone number without looking on your phone.
There are at least 3 types of memory and it's probably worth just recapping what these are and why they are important.
- Long-term memory
- Short-term memory
- Very short-term memory or “Iconic memory”
1. Long-term memory
This is the type of memory that enables you to remember names, what your phone number is or that nasty scrape to your knee when you were six.
This is the type of memory that most people think of when you talk about "recall". It can be very useful but your brain jealously guards this capacity.
Something normally needs to be either very dramatic or repeated frequently to be filed away in this valuable part of your brain.
Why long-term memory is important for reports
For KPI dashboard and report design purposes this type of memory is really important when it comes to layout.
Make it intuitive and fast!
If you frequently visit the same website or read the same newspaper you will just "know" where things are on the page. You do not have to hunt around to find what you're looking for.
It's just the same when you get in your car and you know where the indicator stalk is (try getting in a car with the stalk on a different side from the one you're used to and you'll know what I mean!).
So, for good, effective performance tracking using dashboards we need to respect and treasure the reader's long-term memory. Consistency in layout and familiarity of key positional details in KPI dashboards is absolutely crucial to making reports readable and accessible. Interestingly, until it becomes familiar and easy for them, this constancy will not be apparent to the user.
2. Short-term memory
Short-term memory is the kind of memory that enables you to remember what drinks you're ordering at a bar, which hotel room you're in or recall what was in the news. It's a kind of short-term holding area. It is sometimes called "active memory". It can be very useful for comparing a few figures or "chunks of information".
Unfortunately, research shows that we can only remember between 5 and 9 chunks of information simultaneously.
We typically hold things in short-term memory for 20-30 seconds, although we can extend this through reactivation of the memory. This reactivation is called "covert rehearsal".
Reactivation prevents neural endocytosis, keeping the memory alive for longer than the 20-30 seconds that is typical of short-term memory (clearly essential for remembering which hotel room you are in!).
Most people’s short-term memory is terrible!
Now this is important and relevant to our dashboard and report design process. Even the simplest of business charts will normally have a dozen or so data points (typically monthly data for the last year) so if it's true that we can only remember 5 to 9 points or chunks of data then it means that your average person is incapable of holding enough information in their short-term memory to analyse a simple annual chart!
Why the term "chunk" can help us
The good news is that the term "chunk" is quite elastic. A chunk can be a number but it can also be a shape or line. Now this is good news because obviously a chart line can give a lot more insight than a single number.
So, one of the key principles (tricks) with dashboard design is to lump as much information into a chunk as we can in a meaningful way.
This means "no" to endless data tables and "yes" to simple, streamlined, stripped-down charts.
3. Very short-term "Iconic Memory"
Now iconic memory may not even sound like memory to you. It's probably easier to show you an example rather than described with lots of words. Once you see iconic memory in action, it will change your understanding of how dashboards work forever...
The technique you have just seen is the application of "visual encoding". Visual encoding is the tool by which you encode specific information in a visual way. Humans are designed to react to visual information extremely quickly.
The good news for our KPI dashboard design is that there are a number of visual encoding methods we can use.
If we choose carefully we can use several of them at the same time. Let's have a look at some of the techniques by category. The following categories are based on those devised by Colin Ware in his book "Information Visualization: Perception for Design.
Going deeper still into dashboard design principles
There are a number of different ways of conveying information in a way that uses iconic memory. The example above shows just a few of them; if you want the full list see Stephen Few's excellent book "Information Dashboard Design" referred to earlier.
KPI Dashboard FAQs
Put simply, the content of your KPI dashboard should be focused on whatever it is that you are trying to manage, control or improve. The ROKS method will help you identify the most appropriate KPIs for your KPI dashboards in a structured, collaborative and and efficient way.
There is a huge amount of free material on the internet about the mechanics of building your own Excel dashboard. The main points to consider are...
Always link you choice of KPIs back to your business objectives.
Show only the critical KPIs on the 'front page' of your KPI dashboard. Attention is valuable and scarce.
Use a KPI dashboard template (like the ones on this page) to accelerate your build process.
When it comes to business KPI dashboard types, there are two main types to choose from:
Strategic KPI dashboards: These are designed to help you track long-term strategies and high-level metrics.
Operational KPI dashboards: These show shorter time frames and focus on operational processes.
Within operational KPI dashboards there are two main subtypes
Business as usual reporting. This type of report focusses on the same metrics week in, week out. For example profit, sales or on-time-in-full delivery (OTIF)
Exception and issue tracking. These types of reports will typically track losses or issues (e.g. downtime by reason code or complaints by complaint type), with the specific goal of resolving those problems for the benefit of the organisation (cost saving, for example) or the customer (improved satisfaction, higher repeat custom levels, for example).
It's also worth considering whether data tables and commentary should be included, as this can changed the density, usefulness and design of your dashboard.
Each type of dashboard serves a different purpose and can be used to help you stay on top of different aspects of your business. Which type you choose will depend on your specific needs and goals.
You should choose your KPIs based on the outcomes (strategic business objectives) you are seeking. The Results Orientated KPI System is a complete, practical and structured way to do this. Each KPI dashboard template example on this site comes with a handful of carefully considered and designed KPIs.
This depends entirely on who is using the dashboard, what kind of performance tracking you need and the outcomes you are looking for. To make sure your dashboards cover the right KPIs, make sure you...
Identify the purpose and outcomes of your meeting or decision making forum using a meetings terms of reference.
Shortlist your KPIs using a structured shortlisting method to make sure you have KPIs which are both important and measurable.
Use a resource like Getting Started with KPIs to accelerate your KPI selection process.
'Practical KPI Dashboard Design Using Excel' Webinar
In the 40 minute session we will cover...
- The single most important thing you must never do when designing a dashboard
- A simple set of rules to help keep your dashboards clear and easy to understand
- Three practical killer-tips for Excel dashboard design
The session will include some useful free downloads and some very special offers.