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I am looking to create a single dashboard that to show the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for the department I manage. This includes project data, budget data, and other items. The data would be polled from multiple data sources (Excel, mySQL, MS SQL, Access, and XML). I would like the dash board to update automatically.

Does any one do any thing like this and what software do you use? Does any one know of any open source options? Every thing I could find required programming or cost more then I was hoping to spend.

jhack's picture

The challenge you pose:

This includes project data, budget data, and other items. The data would be polled from multiple data sources (Excel, mySQL, MS SQL, Access, and XML). I would like the dash board to update automatically.

is not solved by a dashboard product. Consolidating data from multiple sources is costly and requires domain expertise. There is no shortcut, and in a well run "performance management" system implementation, this is going to be your highest cost (in many cases it's hidden because it's done by internal staff). Updating automatically is particularly challenging (how does your excel sheet "automatically" update the backend system?) There are ways, of course, but it's not so much the product you choose but the implementation and changes in process that will "cost" you.

Full disclosure: I develop software for this purpose, at a large software company.

Here's what I would recommend:

1. Define your KPIs - and the target values.
2. Figure out where the data for the actual values would come from.
3. Mock up your dashboard in something simple (like Excel)
4. Manually go through the process of gathering all the data once, and creating the dashboard as you'd like it to look, with real data (target and actual).

THEN you're in a position to do three key things:
1. Actually create the dashboard if you (or your boss!) needs it.
2. Identify the least efficient parts of the process, and fix that first.
3. Look at competing products with a clear set of criteria that they must meet.

John Hack

rwwh's picture

What is the goal that you are trying to reach? A public dashboard in the form of a large whiteboard with colored markers in a central place, which you regularly update with new figures is much more powerful than a hidden excel spreadsheet that automatically updates each number to 6 decimal places whenever the project manager loads it on his computer.

How often do your numbers change significantly?