Integration and Dashboard Tools with Google Sheets

26 July 2016 by Joe Larson

This is part 5 in our series on spreadsheets and data visualization. In this part we’ll cover how to do more with data once it’s in Google Sheets, such as integration with other services, BI tools, and more.

We previously talked about the advantages of using Google Sheets because of its various features for collaboration, sharing, and publishing. Another great reason to use Sheets is the flexibility it gives you to get your spreadsheet data into other platforms and integrate it with existing tools you’re already using.

"Integration with Google Sheets"

Piping Data Into Sheets

Let’s begin with a few ways that you can pipe your data to Google Sheets. Once it’s in Sheets, you can create charts, dashboards, or conduct the analysis to get the answers you need. Later, we’ll talk about how Sheets can be an intermediate step in a workflow, and how it can go from there, out to other services or platforms.

Fulcrum Data Shares

We’ve written before about using your Fulcrum Data Shares and Piping Data into Google Sheets. This approach will make use of the IMPORTDATA function to automatically load your records from Fulcrum right into Sheets. As new records are synced to your Fulcrum account, the updates will also be made in Sheets.

"Using the IMPORTDATA function with Fulcrum Data Shares"

Google Forms

These days with the Google Docs Platform, it couldn’t be easier to create a form and log the responses into a spreadsheet. It is now a built-in option to route your Form responses directly into Sheets. Forms can be a much more natural feeling method for users when you’re looking to have them input data; consider this approach if it makes more sense than opening up your spreadsheet for collaboration.

Zapier

Introducing Zapier into your workflow can open up many powerful options to meet your needs. With Multi-Step Zaps you can do things like add Custom Filters to only send Fulcrum records matching a certain status value to Sheets. Or perhaps you need to get your Fulcrum data into Google Sheets and send an email - Zapier is your Swiss Army Knife solution. If you’re brand new to Zapier, take a look at our previous post about connecting it and Fulcrum to other services.

Add new rows to Sheets for new Fulcrum records

Getting Data Out of Sheets

Above, we’ve touched on all the ways to get data into Sheets. Our next examples will highlight a few ways to host your information on Sheets and feed it out to other tools.

Dashboards

One prolific BI tool is the dashboard. It is typically a unified display of information from a variety of sources within a business. These dashboards can be continuously updated and displayed on a large monitor or TV, or perhaps summarized in a graphic for a quarterly report. Using Google Sheets as the data storage component for your dashboard is increasingly becoming a wise choice. Here are a few good dashboard tools built around that approach, each with great support for Google Sheets:

sheetsee.js

We mentioned a few BI tools that can consume your data from Google Sheets and display it as charts, maps, and tables - but if you’re looking for a more customized approach - check out sheetsee.js. Built by Jessica Lord, sheetsee is a client-side JavaScript library that can help you achieve a tailor-made dashboard layout…if you’re willing to wrangle a bit of code. Sheetsee pairs with tabletop.js and incorporates Mapbox.js for maps & d3.js for charts.

"A basic demo of Sheetsee.js"

Zapier

At Fulcrum, we love Zapier! It’s a great companion for Fulcrum users to extend their workflows and is also leveraged in a handful of our internal tasks. The team over at Zapier put together this great example: How to Create a Custom Business Analytics Dashboard with Google Sheets. This shows off both the many different ways you can wire data from your other apps into Google Sheets and utilize the charting and graphic abilities of Sheets to create an informational dashboard.

Summary

Another thing to consider when adding Google Sheets into your process are the many add-ons which you can incorporate via Apps Script. Add-ons let you extend the already great functionality of Sheets to deliver the extra bit of customization that you’re looking for. From translations to statistics to geocoding, there are dozens of add-ons to keep in mind.

This concludes our series about spreadsheets, data, and visualization. We hope you’ve enjoyed it and become inspired to use a few of the tips discussed here. If you’re looking for even more ideas on what you can do with Google Sheets, check out the many other uses the folks at Digital Telepathy put together.

About the author

Joe is an integration engineer with Fulcrum, and works with clients to help make Fulcrum work with their workflows.

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