Bananas are in 'Trouble' - Use Sparklines not Dials on your Tableau Dashboards


Management by exception is an often used concept but it has limitations. The exception is triggered but is it too late? The manager has no easy way to see what is really going on before it is too late. A sparkline is a possible answer!


Sparklines are a neat way of representing a lot of data in a small area. It is better use of space on dashboards. People love dials or gages on dashboards but they only show the position at this point in time. The Manager can clearly see the trends and take action long before the trouble occurs using sparklines.


Here is an example below.




The left-hand side shows the sparklines for various fruit sales. As the line moves above the target it turns green and below turns red. The right -hand plot shows the cumulative position for this year. As you can see bananas are in trouble!


As you can see bananas are in trouble as sales are dropping. As it goes below target the sparkline turns red.


The term sparkline was proposed by Edward Tufte for "small, high resolution graphics embedded in a context of words, numbers, images". Sparklines are intended to be succinct, memorable.


You can cram a lot of vital information into a very small space and yet it is legible and you can see the trends easily.

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Here is a video on how to construct a simple Sparkline dashboard from an Excel spreadsheet.





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