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Buying Standard Xelsisus Dashboards – What Should be Included?

by Dr. Berg

October 31, 2011

In this blog we look at what is required to buy standard Xcelsius dashboards off-the-shelf and implement these in your organization. In doing so, we look at some of the design features you may want to require in your toolset. By Dr. Berg


Some companies have started to ask, why they cannot simply buy ‘standard’ Xcelsius dashboards and customize them, instead of starting special projects, writing functional specs and plan for lengthy project schedules.  The answer is that few of standard options exist.

Actually, most of what is available is not targeted towards the SAP and BW landscapes. Therefore, the fields on ‘standard’ dashboards may not be available in your BW system, and may require complex transformation, or query logic, that slows down the performance of the dashboard so much that the standard dashboards are no longer useful.

So what should you look for?

Standard Dashboard Features to Look for: Product Breadth

Figure 1: Sales Order Dashboard


The first item to consider is product breadth. You will probably need 3-5 dashboards for each of your functional area (i.e. 4 for AP, 5 for sales ord ers etc.). The best is to realize that annual, monthly, detailed and material analysis is different and that dedicated dashboards are required for each of these areas. It is a mistake to cram too much data into a dashboard.

Key Concept: Most companies should expect at least 30-50 dashboards to support a complete ECC implementation.


Multiple Views Required

Your dashboards will require multiple views. Some will be graphs and others should be detailed list tables with summarized and calculated key figures. It is a mistake to tray to create one ‘unified’ view of the data. If you did, you would have very few users… Naturally, there is also a limit to how many objects you include. If you add too many, the performance will be poor.

 Figure 2:  Multiple Views are needed



The Toolbar Should be Really Standard

Figure 3: The Toolbar


 The standard dashboard should also have unifie d toolbars. They should include:


  1. Print button
  2. Reset button (remove drill downs)
  3. Save scenario button (to set default views and load what-if analysis and selections)
  4. Help button for online help and a dashboard that shows how to use and read your dashboard
  5. WebI report button to link to detailed reports
  6. Refresh button to execute queries for drill-down data (filtering)
  7. The toolbar location, size and text should always be standardized on all dashboards


Scrolling and Cut-off Text

Horizontal scrolling is banned from all dashboards. Vertical scrolling bars should be used extremely rarely. An alternative is to use ‘pop-ups’ with more text when needed.

 Figure 4: Including larger text times without scrolling


 Maps and Complex Graphs

Some data such as shipments, deliveries, sales orders, billing are prime candidates for maps. There are many options; you can use Yahoo maps, Google maps, and also existing maps features in the Xcelsius tool.  Regardless of what you use, your standard dashboards should provide enhanced features such as:


  • Summary data tables, when map items are selected.
  • ‘Pop-up’ labels with proportional data (i.e. % of sales)
  • Color coding with labels explaining what the colors mean

 Figure 5: Map of Annual Sales Order Amounts



Sometimes complext graphs should be used. For example, bubble graphs can represent multiple data points such as revenue, cost of goods sold and customer relative profitability on a single graph, instead of 2-3 charts. Just be creative...

Figure 6: 'Bubble' Graph


(note: all numbers are examples only and not real) 


These are just some of the many features you would expect to see on the 30-50 dashboards you need for a complete ECC implementation. Some of this could come from dashboards you simply buy. While others, may be custom in-house developed. Long-term the trend is towards buying these..

A word of caution: Just like buying cars, be careful, not to focus too much of ‘cool’ features and fancy stuff. They may look good, but be utterly useless in day-to -day operations.

Meanwile, meet me at the Xcelsius bootcamp, or the Reporting and Analytics conference, in Las Vegas this week (Nov. 1-4) and we can take a look at other examples of what to look for...

 Dr. Berg

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