The Top Ten Data Visualization Examples to make your Dashboard Shine!

November 16, 2022

If you’re an FP&A professional, you may often struggle with how to select the best data visualization format to include in your dashboard or report. What’s the best way to represent your data to your targeted audience? Your audience could be the CFO, the CEO, the board of directors, business managers, outside investors, or your immediate manager.

Either way, a recent report released by Sisense provides a summary of the top 10 formats to visualize your data.

Aligning your data with the most effective visualization can enhance your ability to tell a story and convey key points.

In no particular order, here are the ten:

  • Indicator - An indicator data visualization is a vivid way to present changes that you’re tracking in your data. Typically, this uses something like a gauge or a ticker to show which direction the numbers are heading in.
  • Line Chart - Line charts plot data points on a graph and then join them up with a single line that zigzags from each point to the next.
  • Column Chart - A column chart graphically represents data by displaying vertical bars next to each other, lined up on the horizontal axis. Each bar represents a different category, and the height of the bar correlates with numbers on the values axis, on the left hand side.
  • Bar Chart - A bar chart is essentially a column chart on its side: values are presented on the horizontal axis and the categories are on vertical axis, on the left.
  • Pie Chart - Pie charts show values as a “slice” of a whole circle (the whole pie). Numerical Values are translated into a percentage of 360 degrees, represented by the arc length, and each slice is color coded accordingly.
  • Area Chart - An area chart is similar to a line chart in that it plots figures graphically using lines to join each point – but it’s more dynamic and visual, giving an idea of comparative mass. The area under the jagged points formed by the line is filled in with color, so that it looks kind of like a mountain range
  • Pivot Table - A pivot table brings together, simplifies and summarizes information stored in other tables and spreadsheets, stripping this down to the most pertinent insights. They are also used to create unweighted cross tabulations fast
  • Scatter Chart - Scatter charts are a more unusual way to visualize data than the examples above. These are mathematical diagrams or plots that rely on Cartesian co-ordinates. If you’re using one color in the graph, this means you can display two values for two variables relating to a data set, but you can also use two colors to incorporate an additional variable. 
  • Scatter Map / Area Map - A scatter map allows viewers to visualize geographical data across a region by displaying this as data points on a map
  • Treemap - A treemap is a multi-dimensional widget that displays hierarchical data in the format of clustered rectangles, which are all nested inside each other

After you have selected your favorite visualization formats, consider the data that is feeding your dashboards. Most companies connect their BI Platform directly to their ERP. This is not a best practice as the ERP typically only represents one of many FP&A scenarios, namely your actual data. What about your financial plan, budget, low plan, high plan, 5-year plan, what-if 1, what-if 2, and so on? You get the picture. By only capturing your actuals, you are limited to only reporting on what has already taken place and captured by your ERP and missing out on all future analyses.

Most finance teams keep these important alternative scenarios off the ERP. That means if your BI system is receiving direct data from the ERP you will be missing all of these alternative scenarios altogether. In a dynamic modeling environment that is a massive gap in your BI strategy.

Want to compare actuals to forecasts within your BI Platform? Then don’t connect it to the ERP directly.

A best practice is to instead load your ERP and G/L data to an FP&A Platform like You can now create all alternative scenarios within this same platform instead of on disconnected spreadsheet files. Next, make the FP&A platform a data source to your BI. Making your FP&A Platform your data hub will give you the optimal architecture to bridge stunning visuals with great data. Otherwise, what is the point of having amazing dashboards with limited data?

Most FP&A solutions will either lock you into an inferior and proprietary and internal dashboard or will limit you to a specific BI connection (maybe only PowerBI). is one of the few FP&A platforms that offer a Universal BI Connector. This allows to be a source of data to your favorite BI platform, whatever that may be.

Access the Full Report