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Cooking Up Dashboards and Portals - A recipe for Smartsheet

When I was first introduced to Smartsheet, the first thing that I wanted to do was build an amazing Dashboard to be shown to the Senior Leadership Team. I started to build this and became stuck very quickly. Why? If we compare this to making a cake or cooking, I was missing something to help make this an easier process, essential ingredients that I needed in order for this to work. This is what we will be talking about in this article, to give you some ideas of some great ingredients to help you create an amazing Dashboard or Portal. Every recipe has some basic ingredients and I will help you to build a Dashboard by giving you the basic elements to help you on your way to having a fantastic Dashboard or Portal again and again.

Dashboards are a visual representation of your data and work within Smartsheet and they will help you share and display important parts of the work you or your team have completed in digestible and understandable graphics, such as project status or budgetary information. Portals (which are a type of dashboard) is a different term used to describe a dashboard that is more like a hub of operations to help you and your team to stay organised. This could be a central location for sheets and other resources like links to websites or even documents etc.

Let’s have a look at some of the ingredients you will need to build these powerful tools.

This is the most important aspect to enable you to build a dashboard or portal. This is the flour or the eggs for the cake. You must have data either in sheet format or an existing report for you to be able to pull together a real-time reporting dashboard. The way I compile the data is to use the process below:

  1. Start with a grid – The most basic way to start in Smartsheet. This is to start looking at how I want to collate or collect my data.

  2. Look at collating data via a Form if reaching out to a wider audience for the information.

  3. Once collected I put the relevant information into key reports.

  4. Organise all these resources into a newly created Folder so that it is easy to find when building your dashboard.

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.” — Sherlock Holmes

You can share lots of information on a Dashboard and to multiple people, but remember that what an individual sees within a Dashboard depends on what information they have shared at the source. This means that you can have multiple people shared to a dashboard and they only need to see what is required and what is relevant to them

Also, the data you are sharing within your dashboard can be a mixture of visuals and raw data using the widgets. The following Widgets allow you to customise what is displayed on your dashboard, think of these as your decorations or finishing touches.

  • Title – Often missed so make sure you have a title for your dashboard

  • Metric – Displaying content from one or more cells in a sheet

  • Charts – Real-time charts based on a table of data you have selected

  • Shortcut – Links or list of links to specific items

  • Rich Text – These are useful to explain data

  • Report – Display any reports you have created in a dashboard

  • Images – This could be your company logo or photo/image of your choosing

  • Web Content – This could be any interactive content either a Smartsheet Form to a Youtube Video

When you reach the stage of sharing your Dashboard, I suggest you share it with a selected few individuals to test how they see it and whether any amends need to be made and receive feedback before you share it with your wider audience.

“Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all.” — Charles Babbage

The maintenance of your dashboard is easy and simple. I mention to our training participants that building a dashboard takes time but once it is built, the information (Data) that is populating it is correct. Your dashboard will update itself, meaning that you have more time to spend on other things. So, invest in the time to build it and it will save you time and resources in the long run.

Dashboards help you share data with different stakeholders and help enable you to get the right information to the right people, enabling informed decisions. They also help you keep your projects and teams together on a centralized platform containing all of the information they need and the resources required. Dashboards help pull the information to focus on and also give you options to show data in differing ways to engage your audiences.

If you need help building your dashboards and portals contact us and let PPS show you the way.

About the Author: Robert Kennie, Learning & Development Manager

"I am a talented Learning and Development Manager with extensive skills in designing and delivering training initiatives and programmes. I have implemented targeted development strategies in business for over 19 years across varying sectors. Training initiatives include expert instructional design and delivery of Technology based learning, Simulations, Coaching and Mentoring, Lectures, Group discussion/Classroom, Role-playing and Team building exercises. These have been delivered to all levels of business from agent to Board level."


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