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Dr. Bjarne Berg’s 10 Lessons for dashboard design

by Bridget Kotelly

April 18, 2013

Here are a 10 tops from one of Dr. Bjarne Berg’s top-rated dashboard design presentations at BI 2012.   For more excellent dashboarding best practices, you can join Dr. Berg at BI 2013 June 11-13 in Amsterdam where will present a special 2-part dishoarding lesson. 

Part 1: SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards best practices: Lessons to design and deploy interactive dashboards

Part 2: SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards best practices: Top 20 factors that affect your dashboard usability, integration, and performance

 Dr. Bjarne Berg’s 10 Lessons for dashboard design:

  • Lesson #1: Make sure you build dashboards on top of summary cubes and data stores where the volume is small and queries can run fast
  • Lesson #2: Modularize the data and always leverage MultiProviders
    • This reduces data replication, decreases
      the number of data updates, and makes the data available to the end user faster
    • You can also use the MultiProviders for other summary reports beyond the dashboards
  • Lesson #3: Adding forward-looking dashboards that a re linked to Business Plans (BP), Rolling Estimates (RE), and Prior Year (PY) makes the dashboard more meaningful
  • Lesson #4: Create charts that “predict” where the sales will be each month if the trend continues. This makes the dashboard actionable and tells the users what needs to be done
  • Lesson #5: Almost all dashboards should have graphs, as well as numbers
    • Do not create a visually pleasing dashboard with just images. People are visually, as well as numerically, oriented
  • Lesson #6: Users want to see the details without having to log on to a separate system. It is not advisable to try to cram too many details in a single management cockpit (maximum 500-1,000 rows)
    • Instead, create jump-to reports from the dashboard. This can be to Interactive Analysis (SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence) or to existing BW Web queries
  • Lesson #7: When presenting numbers on charts and complex graphs, you should always provide an online explanation for:
    • What the numbers mean
    • How they are calculated
    • How you read the graphs
  • Lesson #8: It is hard to build a fast dashboard with many queries and panels without SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator. This provides in-memory processing of queries that is 10-100x faster
  • Lesson #9: Pre-running queries into cache via BEx Broadcaster requires more memory than the 200MB default values. Analyze your server and consider increasing the cache to 400MB+
  • Lesson #10: MDX cache is for OLAP Universes, OLAP cache is for BICS connectors used by SAP BusinessObjects Dashboard Builder. Think how you are accessing the data before you performance tune the system, and always conduct a stress test before deploying any dashboards

For more information on Dr. Berg's sessions at BI 2013 in Amsterdam, download the brochure, join the conversation on Twitter #2013 and follow me @BridgetKotelly.


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