Dashboard Week, The Data Schools’ challenge to consultants nearing the end of their intense fourth month training before starting placement. The challenge for each day last week – create a dashboard and tell a story using a newly provided dataset each day.

Reflecting on my experience, I have created five tips for future Data School consultants taking on Dashboard Week. While these tips are nothing too surprising, they can help ensure that your dashboard week goes smoothly.

Tips for Dashboard Week:

  1. It’s all about the story

The brief for every day of dashboard week is to create a dashboard and to tell a story. Without a story you won’t have met the brief and will likely be left presenting nicely formatted data.

When looking at the dataset each day for the first time, allocate some time to brainstorm some ideas. Grab a notepad or paper and write down a few different story ideas you could explore. Then once you have some ideas, explore the feasibility of each before deciding on one. With not enough time to explore each story idea, pick the best story that you will be able to deliver.

In addition, if you are having a difficult time finding a story, import the data into Tableau and experiment with different charts to see if you can identify any trends or story points.

  1. Plan

Plan your story, dashboard, and presentation. Overall, planning can save you time, provide clarity and help ensure you have a clear direction when it comes time to working on the daily challenge.

Limited by time, having clarity on what your next steps are can help you stay calm and relaxed and enable you to do your best work. It will also help you meet the brief without loosing too much sleep.

  1. Time-box

Your time during dashboard week is limited to one day maximum or on Friday to even shorter. Knowing how much time to allocate to each task can be tricky but breaking up your time can help ensure that you are not spending too much time on one task. For example, you could break your time into 30-minute segments and write down a goal for those minutes. If you are unable to complete the task, you have two options: 1- ask for help or 2- try another solution.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Where time is limited, you want to find quick solutions to your problems to be able to move on to your next task. With everyone in the cohort working on the same dataset each day, someone might be working on the same problem or might be able to help.

You could also run your story ideas past your colleagues to check that your story makes sense and talk about the feasibility. Talking to others can you think it through in your own head.

  1. Have fun and embrace the challenge

Dashboard week is a challenge but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have fun, push yourself to explore different ideas and think outside the box. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use the best chart to communicate your story but there are plenty of options to explore.


The lead-up to dashboard week can seem scary but being confident in what you have learnt during your four months of training will serve you well. The datasets themselves may seem limited or overwhelming but remember the five tips to dashboard week each day and you’ll be fine.


Scott Johnston
Author: Scott Johnston