Building a business dashboard Semester 2, 2016
Designing an inventory report dashboard
OverviewA business dashboard is a single screen snapshot of how a business, department, or process is performing. The design varies considerably from one application to another, and even between businesses, but a common feature of a dashboard is that it uses graphs, coloured text, and symbols to show the viewer, at a glance, the current status. Many dashboards are interactive because it can be difficult to show every important detail at once.
This is an individual assignment in which you design a report to be used by managers involved in purchasing, sales, and inventory management. There is no fixed answer, so be creative! The spreadsheet must perform ratio analysis to show the current status of the inventory holdings of a company. Marks are awarded according to how well the dashboard meets the requirements specified in the rubric.
A data set is supplied with this guide in Moodle (2016 s2 inventory statistics.xlsx). The Inventory Statistics data set contains four sheets: sales value, sales quantity, the quantity of inventory on hand, and the quantity purchased. You should use all sheets in your calculations, but may need to restructure some data on a separate calculation sheet to ensure data is in the format you need.
Instructions on how to build a complex interactive scorecard have been published by the Journal of Accountancy (http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2011/feb/20092427.html), but you don’t have to build such a complex system if your spreadsheeting skills are not well developed. The table below contrasts two different approaches. The example on the left shows 7 ratios in a non-interactive dashboard,with three graphs and one table of numbers. It is clearly not an inventory management dashboard, but if the design features included were tailored to the inventory management context, it would likely earn a pass (providing instructions, the input sheet, and the calculations sheet are acceptable).
The example on the right is from the Dashboard your Scorecard article. It is also not an inventory management dashboard and does not show ratios, and so is not acceptable, but illustrates elements that will earn higher marks:
· It is interactive (note the drop-down box in the bottom right graph to select the person shown);
· It uses conditional formatting icons (arrows) in the top right tableto indicate the direction of change and so makes the data easier to digest at a glance;
· It uses spark lines(within cell graphs)in the top right table to show historical changes.
Learning objectives assessed:The purpose of this assignment is to give you practice indesigning and developing a reporting system using good spreadsheet design practice.Some independent research will be required to find out how to construct the elements of the report, particularly if you are attempting the high distinction requirements.
In terms of the learning outcomes shown in the unit guide, this assessment task tests your achievement of objective 4, synthesise design principles to develop financial models that assist in decision making, and objective 5, apply problem solving and communication skills to analyse, evaluate and interpret accounting data.
In terms of the unit content, this assignment is based on a set of practice guidelines that are used widely, usually referred to as the COSO framework, and shown below. This assignment focuses on the bottom two elements:
Information and communication: What information is needed, and how should it be communicated?
Monitoring: How will you monitor what is happening?
Marks:Criteria for marking: This assignment is worth 15% of your total marks. You will be assessed forthe quality of your instructions on how to use the spreadsheet, the amount of analysis performed,and the usefulness and attractiveness of the output.
|Mark breakdown per task|
|A (instruction sheets)||4|
|B (data input sheet)||3|
Requireda) Prepare an instruction sheet that explains how to use your spreadsheet. Instructions should be brief. Aim for around 300 words.
The instruction sheet shouldinclude this information:
· Your name
· Purpose of spreadsheet
· Description of layout
· Where to enter data
· Which ratios are shown and how they are calculated
· A description of the information shown on the report
b) Assume that the data input sheets are imported from an Enterprise System database, and so no manual data entry is required. Sometimes, however, the import process fails, and incorrect data is assigned to each cell (e.g. numbers where product codes should be). To obtain a credit or above for this part of the task, formatthe data input sheets (the 2016 s2 inventory statistics.xlsxfile available on Moodle) to highlight invalid values.
c) Construct the data processing (calculation) sheet or sheets (see marking rubric for more details).
d) Construct an attractive report sheet (see marking rubric for more details)
Submission:Submission is via Moodle on Friday 2 September 5:00pm
Submission format:.xls or .xlsx spreadsheet file. Assume that your tutor only has access to Microsoft Excel. You may develop your solution using another program, such as Open Office Calc, Google Sheets, Numbers, and so on, but must save and submit your work as an Excel sheet.
Word limit:Instructionsheet: Around 300 words.
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Resources:The assignment is designed to be completed using Microsoft Excel, which is available in the computer laboratories. It can potentially also be completed using other spreadsheet platforms, such as Google Sheets or Open Office Calc;however, most of the teaching staff are only familiar with Excel and so may not be able to provide any meaningful assistance if you choose to attempt the assignment using a competing product.
A considerable amount of information about each command you are asked to use is available on the unit Moodle site and the Internet. For example, a simple Google search generated these results:
· Conditional formatting: 489,000 results for Excel, 111,000 results for Google sheets
· Conditional formatting icons: 159,000 results for Excel, feature not supported in Google Sheets and so has to be implemented via nested IFs or category-based lookup functions (e.g. LOOKUP, VLOOKUP, MATCH)
· Conditional formatting colour scales: 127,000 results for Excel, 2,210 results for Google Sheets
· Slicer: 408,000 results for Excel, feature not available in Google Sheets
· Excel Form controls/Active X controls: 160,000,000results (a very popular topic)
Note, Excel’s form controls are available on the Developer tab, which is hidden until you right click on the top menu, select Customize the Ribbon, and the check the Developer option.
· Google sheets form controls/drop down lists: 79,000 results (limited functionality, but can be implemented with some effort)
· Spark lines: 185,000 results for Excel, 16,700 results for Google Sheets
Please ask your tutor or one of the lecturers for help in implementing these commands if you are having trouble getting them to work. This is a major assignment in which you are expected to put in a substantial amount of work to obtain higher grades, but we recognise that the commands can be difficult to implement. Conditional formatting icons, in particular, can be very difficult to customise.Do not expect teaching staff to give you the answer directly, but we will try to help you to work out why your model is not working properly. Teaching staff will not be impressed if you ask a basic question, such as “What is conditional formatting?” or “Where can I find form controls in the menu?”. That type of question suggests a lazy intellectual approach that is not consistent with university-level study.
Marking rubric for spreadsheet
|High Distinction||Distinction||Credit||Pass||Unsatisfactory (Fail)|
· Purpose of spreadsheet
· Description of layout
· How to enter data
· Formula for each ratioused
· Examples of special features in report (e.g. conditional formatting)
Professional quality. Concise and error free.Structure of the spreadsheet is very clear. Clear examples of special features, such as slicers, provided.
All basic requirements but some errors.
Instructions mostly clear, and suitable for distribution to a professional audience.
Examples provided for all features, but difficult to understand.
All basic requirements but some errors. Instructions could be clearer, but the instructions are usable.
Examples provided for some, but not all, special features (slicers/form controls, spark lines, conditional formatting)
|Meets basic requirements but should not be distributed without editing. E.g. some poor grammar, structure of workbook or some variable definitions not explained well.||
Does not meet basic requirements.
Instructions missing or hard to understand. Document contains many errors. Cannot be distributed to a professional audience.
|4 marks||3.5 marks||3 marks||2.5 marks|
Three different rules to highlight invalid data on all four input sheets. Each rule must apply to multiple cells, and overall, all data cells must be tested. For example, you could test whether cells contain the correct data type (text in columns A and B, numbers elsewhere), or that numbers are not too high or low.
In Excel, this can be done via the Data Validation command with the circle invalid data option enabled, or via conditional formatting.
Google Sheets does not have a circle invalid data option, so you have to use conditional formatting.
Note that this is a challenging task that may require a formula-based rule to highlight cells that contain numbers instead of text.
Two different rules to highlight invalid data on all four input sheets, or three rules but not all input sheets or not all data cells covered.
||One rule to highlight invalid data||
This is an advanced task for students attempting to obtain an overall grade of more than pass.
|3 marks||2 marks||1 mark|
Separate calculation sheet(s)
Values are from formulas or pivot tables and not hard-coded
|No calculation sheets added, or some data on calculations sheet is hard-coded (not from formulas or pivot tables).|
|1 mark||0 marks|
Meets Pass requirements, creative and attractive dashboard design that is also functional (e.g. don’t use exotic and hard-to-interpret designs, such as 3D charts unless you have a reason).
· One graph or table is interactive. Use a slicer, a form control,an Active-X control, or similar. A pivot table on its own is not sufficiently interactive.
· Spark lines in a table
· Icons or a colour scale from conditional formatting used in a table. The icons or colours must be explained within the dashboard.
|Meets pass requirements, creative and attractive dashboard design, plus two of the three high distinction requirements (interactive, spark lines, conditional formatting).||
Meets pass requirements, creative and attractive dashboard design, plus one of the three high distinction requirements (interactive pivot table, spark lines, conditional formatting)
· Dashboard fits within a widescreen display with a 1440 x 900 resolution
· 3 or more ratios, including day’s inventory on hand, and gross marginpercentage
· 1-3 graphs and 1-2 tables, but not more than 4 graphs/tables
· Reports based on calculations, not hard coded numbers.
· Your name appears in the footer section of the page when printed
|Does not meet basic requirements (e.g. less than 3 ratios shown, too large, not enough graphs/tables, or report based on hard coded numbers.|
|7 marks||6 marks||5 marks||4 marks|
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