The Initial Overwhelm


From dataschool to real-world data analysis projects, time is often a luxury we don’t have. This was the reality I faced during the Dashboard Week.

At first glance, the first dataset was daunting enough. It was a 123 MB Excel with 152 fields and 149,272 rows to consider. I was challenged with creating a comprehensive dashboard within a day. I felt lost in the sea of data. But this is not my first time dealing with a complex problem, taking my experience from university and previous project weeks, I took a close look at the topic “Australian Charity Annual Reports.csv” and realized the key was to break it down into manageable parts. I started by identifying several sub-aspects within the data:


  • Where do the charities operate?
  • Where is the funding coming from?
  • Where do the charities spend?
  • Who works for the charities?
  • Charities Financial Health Check?


By focusing on these questions, I was able to start making sense of the data and formulating a plan for my dashboard.


Crafting the Dashboard


Given the breadth of information available, I decided to create an explanatory dashboard instead of an exploratory one.

This would allow me to present the data in a long-form format, divided into different sections corresponding to the sub-aspects I had identified. This approach not only made the data more digestible but also allowed me to tell a story with the data, guiding viewers through the various facets of Australian charities.


Embracing the Agile Approach


The restrictive timeframe necessitated an agile approach to project completion. Here are some strategies I employed:


  1. Understanding the Background: Before diving into the data, I made sure to understand the background knowledge and the topic of the Excel file. This helped me contextualize the data and identify key areas of focus.


2. Self-aware limits and focusing on the Essentials: Rather than trying to cover every detail, I focused on the bare bones of the topic. This allowed me to highlight the most important aspects of the data without getting bogged down in minutiae.


3. Avoiding Perfectionism: In a time-critical project, it’s important not to be a perfectionist. I aimed for a functional, informative dashboard rather than a flawless masterpiece. This also meant controlling my work time to a reasonable 8 hours.


The Dashboard Week was a challenging yet rewarding experience. It pushed us to work efficiently, think critically, and adapt quickly. And while the journey was intense all of dashboards will make it worthwhile.


Pujiang Zhang
Author: Pujiang Zhang

A recent graduate with a Master of Information Technology from the Queensland University of Technology with a literature background in digital media. My academic journey has fueled my passion for making informed decisions through data analysis, and I'm fascinated by the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and its societal impacts. Beyond the world of data, I find joy in activities like jogging and swimming. I also have a strong interstate in philosophy and history, dedicating my spare time to exploring the depths of these subjects.