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Xcelsius Flexibility Guide for Dashboards – with Examples

by Dr. Berg

August 24, 2011

In this blog we will take a look at a few examples of interactive dashboard features for Xcelsius. By using these capabilities, you can avoid searching for the ‘ultimate’ requirements and meet multiple requests. Following these ideas, you can increase your adaptation rate and make Xcelsius an integrated part of your analytics (note: all dashboard examples in this blog are from Comerit Labs and the data in the examples are not ‘real’)

By Dr. Berg

Going beyond the Norm – Use External Sources

Unfortunately, developers seem to believe that Google maps, news feed and other cool features are only for books and classroom learning. As a result, most dashboards developed today do not contain external interfaces and data. This is a mistake.

Users are holistic people, who love graphical interfaces. Therefore, don’t be afraid to add news feeds as banners, include maps for interactive analysis. Also, add simple graphs that users can toggle between (notice the lowest graph in the dashboard below can be displayed in four different ways).

 

By calling web services there are few limitations on how cool your dashboards can be. So have fun, build demos, proof-of-concepts and prototypes that show your users real options. Don’t wait for functional specs… 

 

More than one way to Show Data

Don’t force all users into a single view when creating dashboards. You can allow users to tab between columns graphs, bar graphs and tables when displaying data. By implementing this, you will get faster sign-off from representatives of your User Acceptance Team (UAT).

 

(note: all data in the examples are not ‘real’) 

 

Build Supporting ‘Detailed’ Dashboards

Avoid cramming too much detail into your summary dashboards. You can create more detailed dashboards by looking at top-n analysis (i.e. top-10 customers, vendors, materials etc). In these dashboards you can show more details without having significant performance issues. 

 

(note: all data in the examples are not ‘real’)

 

Data Table Dashboards

Sometimes, presenting data in tables in the ‘detailed’ dashboards can add signifi cant value. Do not feel that every dashboard need at least five colors and as many graphs as possible. Sometimes, the users simply want more detailed information without having to jump to WebI, Crystal or BEx reports.

 

(note: all data in the examples are not ‘real’)

Naturally these table dashboards do not have lot of functionality, so other tools may be warranted for ad-hoc analysis.

 

Change Analysis Dashboards and HEAT maps

When looking at changes period over period, you can use a color coding scheme to create a heat map. This allows users to focus on trends and see information hidden in all the data. Notice how the ‘dining expenses’ has declined by more than 3% for all months. By color coding this green, we quickly see that we can ignore this expense category.

 

 

Variance and Negative Number Analysis

Not all numbers are easy to graph. For example, you cannot graph a negative number in a pie chart and make is useful. Also, if you present it in a table, users have to hunt for the information.

The solution is to create complex graphs where the axis is changed so that negative numbers can be di splayed around zero. This is particularly useful for variance analysis (i.e. actual vs. budget, year over year etc).

 

You should also consider adding buttons so that variance analysis by amounts and percent can be done from a single dashboard.

 

Use of Colors

Sometimes colors can help users read boring data tables. This makes dashboards more visually pleasing than the use of borders. The trick is to use complimentary header and graph colors, so that the dashboard is more visually pleasing

 

 

More to Come…

In this blog we took a look at just a few ideas that you can leverage in your organization. In the next blog, we will take a look at more advanced Xcelsius features for desktop budgeting and what-if analysis by power users and show how users can change data inside tables, totals and by categories and save their analysis without impacting others…

See you at the Xelsisus Bootcamps this fall....

Dr. Berg

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