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Make Your NetSuite Dashboards Work Even Better for You

sales productivity metrics blog

Like a dashboard in your car shows speed, RPMs, and gear all at a glance, dashboards in business are important tools that visualize multiple data points or KPIs within one screen. Dashboards can link to data in one or multiple databases to help make more educated decisions faster, answer specific questions about the health of a business, and/or monitor strategic initiatives.  They also offer a source of real-time data that empowers users to analyze past performance or upcoming trends so that they can stay ahead of their goals. 

What’s Important about NetSuite Dashboards

When it comes to NetSuite data, dashboards tell important stories that help move the business forward:

  • Better Accountability: With dynamically updated dashboards, teams can see where issues are occurring across the organization—such as where process inefficiencies are bogging down productivity—and put accountability with the right people to affect improvement.
  • Faster Decision-Making: Dashboards help by analyzing and presenting information in a concise, at-a-glance design. This helps stakeholders easily see how various processes are affecting overall business health and prompts clear communication across the organization for informed decisions.
  • Improved Reporting Efficiency: Automatically filtering data into one central dashboard reduces the amount of time each department needs to spend combing through disparate data sources and reporting tools to cobble together the necessary information each month.
  • Single Source of Truth: Pulling dashboards from NetSuite data ensures that everyone is working off the same data presented the same way. With dashboards regularly updated from the exact same input sources across the organizations, users in every department at every level will stay on the same page.
  • Right Information to the Right People: HR and procurement need a dashboard, but the contents therein will vary. NetSuite dashboards can be customized by department and even user so everyone is getting the overview they need from the single source of truth data.

NetSuite dashboards can be tailored several different ways to include the right information in the right way for the right people. Visuals—both charts and graphs—make it simple to comprehend more complex data sets. They also help recipients analyze information at a glance and save time by allowing users to draw accurate conclusions faster. Business metrics give you an instant overview of key performance indicators (KPIs), performance scorecards, trend graphs, chart-based workbooks, and report snapshots using dynamic display windows called portlets. Portlets can be customized both on the standard NetSuite tab and on custom NetSuite tabs.

Building A Dashboard from NetSuite Data

NetSuite dashboards are a great start, but if you want to run a deeper analysis of your data, it might require exporting saved searches and manually feeding data into a spreadsheet. Anyone with basic Excel knowledge can build an interactive dashboard. But for so long, the only way to update those tremendous tools was to re-export data every time and copy/paste it into Excel to refresh the dashboard. 

At CloudExtend, we’ve made a better way to make sure that perfect Excel dashboard you’ve built can be a “one and done” build with a simple one-click refresh to access to-the-moment data. It starts with building the saved searches that will pull the data you need. Using CloudExtend Excel for NetSuite, you can then bring your saved search right to Excel. Open CloudExtend in your Excel window, and in a pre-build dashboard template, add the saved search you want and click Create. Repeat with any additional saved searches, and you have the data you need to make your dashboard. Set the saved searches to refresh on a schedule, or manually refresh by navigating to the Data tab and clicking Refresh All. This will update all dashboard elements based on the latest saved search results. 

Check out the in-depth breakdown of creating a NetSuite dashboard in Excel with CloudExtend here.

Excel vs. Power BI: Which One Should I Use?

In addition to Excel, Microsoft also offers Power BI, another data analysis tool that is used to create dashboards and reports. With both having their attributes, you may be left wondering which is the best reporting choice. The answer is: It depends. Based on the use case, choosing one over the other will save time and resources.

Power BI is not first and foremost a spreadsheet application like Excel. It’s main purpose is to provide templates, dashboards, and intelligence tools to help teams manage variations in work and KPIs. Power BI also includes its own automation tools and user-friendly customizable dashboards. On top of all that, Power BI can connect to other MS Office tools as well as third-party applications, functioning as a “hub” between them all. 

So how do you decide which one is best for your dashboard—Excel or Power BI? A lot depends on the specific use case. For quicker data reports like pivot tables and charts, Excel will be more than sufficient. To add more visuals and slicer detail, Power BI will make more sense. Your choice will also be influenced by how much data you need to process. Excel has some limitations to how much data it can handle, while Power BI can manage a colossal amount. Do note, however, that larger datasets incur additional costs in Power BI. 

Other differences to consider between Excel and Power BI are that Excel can create tabular reports, while Power BI is the better tool for comparative analysis between datasets, tables, and reports. Power BI is also a more secure environment than Excel, but its free version has a low data handling capability. 

In short, choosing whether to use Excel or Power BI depends on your skill sets, the size of your data sets, the kind of report needed, the level of collaboration, and whether or not other business tools need to be incorporated. 

Better Dashboards, Better Results with CloudExtend

Whether you choose to create dashboards in Excel or Power BI, CloudExtend is here to make building those dashboards significantly easier and faster. Botanical Sciences, Inc. did it, and gained visibility into customer communications that increased their productivity by 30%. MIND Research used CloudExtend to improve sales team forecasting, and reduced the IT support needed to produce those reports by half. 

What could you accomplish with NetSuite reporting dashboards in Excel or Power BI? Get started for free and find out.