Again, December performance is identical for each of these three Excel charts, and about the same as the gauge. But each chart tells a different story. And each chart suggests that different responses are necessary.
As the interpretation for the last chart mentions, gauges also fail to show the trend in our opinions about the levels of acceptable performance. To illustrate, a score of 4 was borderline green performance in January; but by September, that same performance had become borderline red. Are these opinions appropriate? The gauge doesn't provide enough information to even suggest this question.
In short, the charts reveal information; the gauge conceals it.
Excel, Gauges, and Charts
If you search ExcelUser for "gauge" you'll see that Andy Pope shows how to emulate gauges in Excel using an XY Scatter chart. Even so, Excel doesn't support gauges directly. This gives other companies an opportunity to sell software to fill this gap.
I suspect, in fact, that one of the reasons that gauges have been promoted so widely is that other software publishers see an opportunity to sell their programs to replace Excel for performance reporting. But because managers are better off without gauges in the first place, there's little need to buy programs to generate them. And there's no need to replace Excel for dashboard reporting.
That is, by avoiding gauges, managers can improve their dashboard reports and probably avoid the cost of buying 3rd-party dashboard reporting programs.
How to Create a Better Chart in Excel
It's easy to create the chart that generated the three earlier examples. Here are some guidelines:
The chart's colors aren't standard Excel colors. To learn how to assign your own colors to worksheets, see Display Any Colors in Excel.