Posts Tagged ‘Dashboard Design (Xcelsius)’

Aug
3

Dashboards don’t kill dashboard projects, People do!

Recently, I had the chance to think about past dashboard projects that I helped save, or complaints I have recently heard about “at-risk” dashboard projects. I offered the following as advice to colleagues and wanted to share my thoughts with you… I offer these three things to consider as your organization looks to improve your dashboard project success rate:

TIP 1: Know who you are designing for and what they need

“Dashboards” are tools to help business people assimilate information, but different roles, lines of business, and management levels need the right information at the right time.

Strategic Dashboards- Management / Executives

Strategic dashboards should present top level KPIs and performance monitoring metrics for management or executives. Sometimes these managers want everything including the kitchen sink, or believe that one dashboard project (expense) can serve the needs of management and lower levels. One dashboard should not typically serve the needs of multiple roles, and as I have found, it is typically easier to build two dashboards than try to build the security and logic.

Analytical Dashboards- Analysts

Analysts typically end up wanting the raw data so they can play with it in Excel. We have great new tools from SAP like Visual Intelligence and newer versions of Explorer that can begin to approach the needs of an analyst. Dashboards do make a great entry point for analysts, but generally lack the horsepower required out of the box. I have seen WebI or the addition of Antivia XWIS remedy the data volume, adhoc, and data export requirements that often come up with analytical dashboards.

Operational Dashboards- Operations

Operations generally means instant, real-time information. Call centers, dispatch, and emergency management users are typical consumers and if they don’t have a fast, super simple user experience, they will trash your dashboard. The connectivity needs to be very fast, especially in an operations center where someone is physically reviewing the dashboard throughout the day. Typically a bottle neck is real-time data availability unless the customer has experience building real-time applications. As such I recommend you flushing out this before dragging a single component onto the canvas.

Informational Dashboards- Everyone else

Informational dashboards are typically geared toward a broader audience of business users. As such, your dashboard needs to be built to win over this audience. The best way to do so is ensure the first phase of your project is delivered quickly, looks amazing, and must be functional.

TIP 2: Set expectations from day 1

A dashboard design solution like Xcelsius has always been our BI Army Swiss knife for applications, but it is not magic. It has its own set of technical limitations that should be understood and communicated. A dashboard developer or project manager should set expectations for what is possible out of the box, what extendable using third party software is, and that if you wait for SAP to deliver the fix or feature, it could be a long wait.

I have walked into countless engagements where the business defined requirements and was told those requirements were possible with Xcelsius, yet no one ever pushed back to set expectations that it would require 40 queries and take 5 minutes to refresh. This is not good!

TIP 3: Find a business champion

Many dashboard projects may be pushed from the top down to end users who may have existing tools and processes for doing things. You have one shot to make an impressions with a new application and if you don’t have someone on your side who is respected by end users you could run into trouble even if you build the best dashboard. A business champion can provide gut checks along the way to make sure the dashboard will be generally adopted, and help evangelize the excitement of a new dashboard so upon delivery, you don’t face an angry mob who will block adoption of the new dashboard.

Ryan Goodman is the Founder of Centigon Solutions, an SAP® software solution partner, that is strategically focused on developing add-on products for use with Xcelsius®. To learn more about him, please visit our Gurus page.

Jul
26

Dynamic status update of Check Box components in Xcelsius: Part 2/4

Select All or Select None

The ability to update the status of multiple logically related Check Box components with one click is a common request when using SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (Xcelsius).

Another frequently requested feature is the “Invert Selection” functionality, when on “one click” a user can deselect (uncheck) all of the currently selected items and select (check) those, which were not in the original selection.

The benefits of having these features might not be obvious while dealing with just 3-4 check boxes. However, when we have more of them and try to check only the few that we are interested in, such functionality becomes highly desirable.

The challenge here is making the Check Box component be checked or unchecked dynamically. In Part 1 of this series I demonstrated how to accomplish a dynamic status update (e.g. Reset) of a single Check Box component. This post is about applying that approach to multiple Check Box components.

Let’s build a model with multiple check boxes that represent geographical regions.

We want to support a selective update of individual check boxes and also a simultaneous update of all of them or just those that belong to a predefined group.

1. Set up a spreadsheet as shown in the figure below. For this example, the region “East” is associated with the group 2 and the other ones with the group 1 (see column H). These group names have no special meaning and could be replaced with other identifiers, if it’s also reflected in the dependent formulae.

2. Add to a canvas four sets of components, each of which represents the region to be selected at run time and consists of two check boxes (checked and unchecked), a label and a push button, as shown in a figure above.

3. Link Label components to the cells with the region names in the range I2:I5.

4. Bind the push buttons’ Source Data properties to the cells in column A and the Destination properties to the cells in the column G in the same row.

5. Make the push buttons transparent as explained in my Custom Push Buttons post.

6. Set the Item property of one of the check boxes in each set as a Checked and the other one as Unchecked. The Item property is located on the Common tab of the Behavior section.

7. Configure Dynamic Visibility for each check box in a set by linking their Status properties to the cells in the Status range G2:G5 (shaded in yellow). Set the Key property for the checked check boxes to 1 and to 0 for the unchecked ones.

8. Stack check boxes in each set and place the corresponding transparent push buttons on top.

9. Resize and align Label components with the check boxes.

10. Add to the model five new push buttons and label them as All, None, Invert, Group1 and Group2.

11. All push buttons will use the cells in the Status range (G2:G5) as a Destination property.

The Push Button component fires only on a click and stays neutral upon dashboard load. It allows us to use multiple push buttons pointing to the same destination. The ordinal positions of the components in the Object Browser do not impact the result.

12. Button All uses as a Data Source the range B2:B5 with values 1 in all cells.

Data Source property of the button None is bound to the range C2:C5 with values 0 in all cells.

Invert button points Data Source property to the range A2: A5 with the formula =1-G2 in the cell A2 copied down in other cells in the range.

Buttons Group1 and Group2 illustrate the selection that is based on a custom logic. They use as the Data Sources the ranges D2:D5 and E2:E5 correspondingly. The formula in D2 is =SIGN(H2=1) and the formula in E2 is =SIGN(H2=2). They are copied down the ranges and flagging regions in the Group1 and Group2.

13. For the visualization of underlying run time changes, add a Spreadsheet Table component and bind its Display Data property to the spreadsheet range shown in the figure above.

14. Open a Preview. As depicted in the following figures, we can flip the values in the cells in the Status range by selectively checking/unchecking check boxes and also can simultaneously check/uncheck check boxes in the various logical groups using the push buttons.

One of the practical applications of this functionality is a toggling of the display of a chart series based on the statuses of the corresponding check boxes. I will show how it can be implemented in one of the next posts.

Leonid Koyfman is a BI professional with over 10 years of experience in a database design and development and in delivering reporting solutions using enterprise reporting technologies. He is a big Xcelsius enthusiast passionate about dashboard design and other kinds of data visualization. In his leisure time Leonid enjoys solving mental puzzles and hiking in the Bay Area with his family.

Jul
18

New Video: Mico’s Dashboard Planning Webcast Recording

Last week Tuesday, Mico and our friends at BusinessObjects Expert co-hosted a webinar on Planning and why it’s the most overlooked step in dashboard development. This webinar served as a preview to Module 1 of Mico’s live online training series, BI Dashboard Formula.

To gain access to the webinar recording follow these 2 simple steps:

  1. Download the Free Planning Guide to follow along
  2. Click here to see why 500+ people registered (hear the LIVE  FAQ’s and download the slides)
  3. Reminder: We ONLY have 9 playbooks left and the $500 discounted registration ends July 31st. Click here to register now.

Soo Tang Yuk (@sootangyuk) is the ‘Xcelsius Gurus Network” community manager and evangelist. To find out more, please visit her about me page.

Jul
6

7/10 Webinar: Learn Key Tips and Tricks on HOW to PLAN your dashboards!!

On July 10th at 10am PST / 1pm EST, Mico Yuk will be joining forces with the BusinessObjects Experts site to give you a sneak peek into Module 1 of her almost sold out BI Dashboard Formula - a simple and proven 7-step process used to implement 100′s of dashboards successfully worldwide by the Gurus (discounted registration ends July 30th if space is available).

During this 60-minute webinar you will learn to:

  1. Identify the key steps to starting a successful dashboard project using her Planning Guide (FREE Gift to you)
  2. Learn important tips on how to handle key players in the early stage and extract the most important KPI”s, all during the planning process
  3. Understand what exact resources are needed and how to plan up front before starting the dashboard scoping process

Please bring your questions for Mico, as there will be a 15 minute Q&A after the presentation.

Don’t wait… here is how you can sign up:

(space is limited as we are not hosting it ourselves, and the recording will be available ONLY to those who register for the webinar)

  • Where: Click here to Register Now (or cut and past this link into your browser - http://bit.ly/LtwwQP)
  • When: July 10, 2012 at 10am PST / 1pm EST
  • To Preprare: Visit the BI Dashboard Formula website to sign up for your Mico’s FREE planning guide (the one that she will be using during the webinar)

See you there!

Soo Tang Yuk (@sootangyuk) is the ‘Xcelsius Gurus Network” community manager and evangelist. To find out more, please visit her about me page.

Jun
21

Mico’s 2012 Conference Dates.. Hope to see you!

Hi Everyone,

I know, I know, I am officially horrible at blogging! Hey, hopefully the #AllAcessSAP Xcelsius webinar made up for that. Thanks for showing up BTW. The attendance numbers and feedback was out the roof!

I somehow managed to stay home for most of this year, minus SAPPHIRENOW (in May) and then last week in Milan for BI2012, but that has ended.

So, it’s time for me to post my 2012 global conference schedule in hopes that I will meet some of you again, as that is truly the highlight of these conferences for me.

Me with my BI Buddy from Israel, Shlomi Weiss

My 90% confirmed calendar below:

Tentative

Yes, so clearly I WON’T be home for the fall again.

Again, let me know if I’ll be seeing you.

P.S. – I did start a new Youtube Channel recently so I could keep in touch another way. Slow start… but check it out, give me your feedback and subscribe!! You can also follow me on Instagram: MicoYuk

Cheers,

Mico

Mico Yuk is a SAP Mentor and BI Influencer, co-founder of Benchmarkers Business Intelligence and founder of the Xcelsius Gurus Network, the Everything Xcelsius blog. To learn more about her, please visit her about page.

Jun
6

Dynamic status update of Check Box components in Xcelsius: Part 1/4

Part 1: To Check or not to Check

One of the most common requests when using SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (Xcelsius) is the ability to selectively reset Selector components back to their original state. Unlike many other selectors, the task isn’t as easy to achieve with the Check Box component. We can’t dynamically update its Checked/Unchecked status because the changes of the value in the cell that the component is bound to don’t affect the component itself. Lack of this functionality also makes it difficult to support updating the statuses of multiple check boxes at once. This post is the first of a series in which I’m going to share my solution to that challenge and examine some of its practical applications.

Xcelsius Check Box component looks similar to its Excel counterpart, but acts differently. In Excel, the connection between a Check Box control and its linked cell works both ways, as implied by the control’s property: Cell Link. Updating the Check Box status changes the value in the linked cell and vice versa. So in Excel, we can dynamically change a linked cell value and see immediate change in the control’s status. That’s not the case with the Xcelsius Check Box component. The hint is in the component’s corresponding property name: Destination. It only assigns the value to the target cell. If that cell is updated by other components, the Check Box component is not notified about the change, and its status stays the same.

Conduct a simple test and compare the results using the same scenario in Excel and Xcelsius:

1. Add a Check Box and a Spin Button control from the Excel’s Form Controls section to a worksheet and link both of them to the cell C2.

2. Set the spin button values range from 0 to 1.

3. When the check box is checked / unchecked the cell gets TRUE / FALSE values.

When the spin button is clicked Up or Down it changes values in the linked cell to 1 or 0 and at the same time the check box’s status gets toggled as well.

4. Now, let’s see what happens in Xcelsius.

Add Check Box, Spinner and Single Value components to a canvas.

5. Link all of the components to the cell C2 and open a Preview.

6. When the check box is checked or unchecked the destination cell gets values of 1 or 0.

But when the spinner updates the value in that cell the check box’s status doesn’t change.

This means that in the current version of Xcelsius there is no built-in functionality to dynamically toggle the Checked/Unchecked status of the Check Box component.

Luckily, there is a work around. Unlike Excel Form Controls, Xcelsius components have a Dynamic Visibility property. Using its magic in a conjunction with a Push Button component, we can simulate Excel’s check box functionality in Xcelsius.

Let’s create a model that demonstrates this technique:

1. Add two Push Button and two Check Box components to a canvas. We are going to extend the methods described in another post, Customizing a Push Button and combine check boxes and a push button into one custom push button. We also can use the Image Components instead, if we have a pair of good images of a checked and unchecked check box. It makes sense especially if we want to display the check boxes that look fancier than Xcelsius ones.

2. Set Item property of one of the check boxes as a Checked and the other one as Unchecked. Item property is located on the Common tab of the Behavior section. Bind Source Data for the push buttons to cell A3 and Destination to H3. The Excel formula in A3 is =1-H3 and the initial value in the H3 is 1.

3. Cell H3 will define the Dynamic Visibility Status property for both check boxes. Set the Key property for the checked check box to 1 and 0 for the unchecked one.

At this point the model set up should be similar to the following figure:

1. One of the push buttons will be displayed as is and the other one will be transparent. Its Label property should be blank and the Show Button Background property unchecked.

2. Stack check boxes and place the transparent push button on top of them.

3. Add Spreadsheet Table component to see what happens behind the preview.

Now we are ready to test.

When a preview starts we can see that the check box is checked and the values in A3 (shade in green) is 0 and in H3 (shaded in yellow) is 1.

When a user clicks on a check box, the unchecked one is displayed instead, and the values in H3 and A3 get changed to 0 and 1, respectively.

Clicking on the unchecked check box brings the model to the initial state. And, as we remember, the real click happens on the push button, not on a check box. But it’s transparent to a user.

Clicking on the shown push button updates the value in a status cell H3. But this time, unlike out-of-the-box Xcelsius behavior, the status of the displayed check box, from the user experience perspective, is also changed. In reality, we just alternated the display of the check boxes, but a user doesn’t know it (and doesn’t care).

This approach allows mimicking the Excel check box functionality in resetting the Checked/Unchecked status of the Xcelsius Check Box component. It also gives us a working model that we can extend to more complex designs that provide rules based dynamic selection of logically grouped multiple check box components. I’m going to show such an example in the Part 2 of this series: Select all or Select none.

Leonid Koyfman is a BI professional with over 10 years of experience in a database design and development and in delivering reporting solutions using enterprise reporting technologies. He is a big Xcelsius enthusiast passionate about dashboard design and other kinds of data visualization. In his leisure time Leonid enjoys solving mental puzzles and hiking in the Bay Area with his family.

Apr
23

Recording and Book Giveaway: Most Important Xcelsius Webinar of 2012

Hi Everyone,

We first want to say thanks for attending the Most Important Xcelsius Webinar of 2012! Consider  this to be one of three upcoming blog posts discussing the details of the webinar. Please be sure to read it all the way through before previewing the video to view some great outcomes from the webinar.  Enjoy!

10 Amazing Webinar Facts

  1. Registration soared to a record 1086! (30+ countries)
  2. 64% show up rate with over 700+ attendees
  3. 400+ Questions received
  4. 96% Attendee approval rate from feedback survey!
  5. 500+ tweets on our twitter hashtags #AllAccessSAP and #XcelsiusSOD reflected the traffic of a mini conference (and still going BTW)!
  6. 48% of the customers on the call had both SAP BW and Business Objects when polled
  7. 82% of the attendees had no idea what SAP Zen was (though Zen reflected 30% of the questions asked and is the next most requested AllAccessSAP Webinar)
  8. #SAPZen twitter hashtag has been bred into life!
  9. SAP BI Commnity Response was historical and overwhelming! To date we have 7 blog posts, 1 podcast and 1 semantic analysis and counting…
  10. 6 Amazing SAP BI panelist, namely Mani Gill, Ty Miller, Jason Rose, Ian Mayor, Scott Leaver and Mani Srinivasan did an AMAZING job answering questions!  Big thanks to them for participating and making this a success. :-)

Anticipated Xcelsius Book Giveaways!

You couldn’t possibly think that we forgot the BOOK GIVEAWAY from our friends at SAP Press?!  CONGRATS to our winners (check your emails for more details).

  • Winner #1 – Marc Teixido Ibarz (SP)
  • Winner #2 – Ruby Norley (US)
  • Winner #3 – Bala Seetharaman (IN)

I wrote the foreword for this book and can personally recommend that you buy it now, especially if BI4 is on your plate.  Electronic versions available for non US folks too!

AllAccess SAP Xcelsius Webinar Recording (60 mins of No BS)

Sit back and turn up the volume…

If you are having trouble viewing the video, please click the direct link: http://youtu.be/vMVnBnr0PHY

Useful Links & SAP BI Community Webinar Responses

Additional Responses from the Community post this blog:

Our Fav Tweets – Share the Community Passion!

What’s Next?

I will follow up with 2 more blog posts in the next week. One that seeks to get even deeper answers from SAP on the most pressing questions not covered in the webinar. My 2nd blog post will focus on my thoughts on the Xcelsius SOD and what it means for SAP customers and their existing and future dashboards.

Your Feedback is Required

We want to hear from you! Do post your comments below or on twitter using our hashtags #AllAccessSAP and #XcelsiusSOD to keep the conversation going. Remember big brother is reading. :)

Mico Yuk is a SAP Mentor and SAP BI Influencer, co-founder of Benchmarkers Business Intelligence and founder of the Xcelsius Gurus Network, the Everything Xcelsius blog. To learn more about her, please visit her about page.

Jan
10

Intro to Guest Blogger, Leonid Koyfman & what he has planned for Us!

Welcome to my first post on Everything Xcelsius. I’m Leonid Koyfman, a Database Architect at AKQA in San Francisco. Although my primary responsibilities are in a database domain, data visualization and dashboard design in particular have always been in the area of my interests. In my career I completed many reporting projects using Crystal Reports, Actuate and various Microsoft products.

Creating reports and dashboards in Excel prepared me well for transition to Xcelsius. Its mashup of art and technology impressed me from the moment I opened a trial version and I enthusiastically promoted Xcelsius in the company I worked for then.

Starting with Xcelsius 4.0 we developed a line of web analytics dashboards for financial institutions. Our clients loved them. Instead of hundreds static slides in PowerPoint decks, they received interactive dashboards with intuitive navigation and the level of detail not supported in the legacy reports.  While the data preparation on the database side and in Excel was the bulk of the work, using Xcelsius for the presentation delivered the knockout punch. The resounding success of the project made me even stronger proponent of Xcelsius. It also inspired me to be creative and look for workarounds when Xcelsius doesn’t support needed functionality out of the box.

While getting better with every new release, Xcelsius still needs more popularization. Everything Xcelsius is one of the major players in that field. I’ve been a big fan of the website for many years, regularly visiting the site, learning new techniques and developing new skills. I’m glad to have a chance to share some of my ideas, tips and tricks here.

In the next several posts I’m going to examine various applications of customized Push Button controls in Xcelsius. Stay tuned!!

Leonid Koyfman is a BI professional with over 10 years of experience in a database design and development and in delivering reporting solutions using enterprise reporting technologies. He is a big Xcelsius enthusiast passionate about dashboard design and other kinds of data visualization. In his leisure time Leonid enjoys solving mental puzzles and hiking in the Bay Area with his family.

Dec
6

Advanced Printing for Xcelsius is Here… Finally!

A few months ago, I received an email with a subject, “check out this print component” from Gabriel Braun at DataSavvy Tools. When I fired it up, I had a smile ear-to-ear because I was sitting in front of exactly what every customer has been asking me for the last 5 years… A robust print button capable of letting me choose what I want to print, control layout, and print to landscape or portrait. So I am happy to say that thanks to the Data Savvy Tools ingenuity, the community now has a fantastic option for printing: Dash Printer

While we try to keep promotions to a minimum on EverythingXcelsius.com, we could not resist posting about this new component because it is so heavily requested among customers. While some would argue that a basic function like printing should be taken care of by SAP, history has told us that they prefer to use the ecosystem to fill in certain gaps. Frankly, I don’t think that it could have been done any better than this.

After clicking on the print icon, you can click and drag to draw the area for which you will print. This way if you only want a portion of your dashboard printed, you can do so.


While still inside of your dashboard, you can instantly toggle the scale, margins, layout, and alignment of your image to print exactly what you want. This way every user is presented with the same visual print setup regardless of operating system.

So if you need an advanced print button for Xcelsius, you can now look to DataSavy Tools for a sound solution moving forward. Get the Dash Printer NOW!

Ryan Goodman is the Founder of Centigon Solutions, an SAP® software solution partner, that is strategically focused on developing add-on products for use with Xcelsius®. To learn more about him, please visit our Gurus page.

Sep
27

ASUG SBOUC BI4 Release Party OFFICIAL RSVP!

Steve Lucas and Adam Binnie

Steve Lucas and Adam Binnie of SAP

Hi Folks,

The most anticipated event of the ASUG SAP BusinessObjects conference is finally here and its BIGGER and BETTER!

We are excited to formally announce the Official SAP BI4 Release Party (aka the 3rd Annual Xcelsius Gurus Reception), hosted by none other than myself Mico Yuk (founder of Benchmarkers.com and EverythingXcelsius.com) and the infamous Steve Lucas, Global GM & Senior Executive of the SAP Business Analytics & Technology Portfolio!

If you attended our event in previous years, you probably know that it looks more like a Vegas nightclub on Friday night than a regular ‘boring’ corporate event.  We plan to keep it that way (just don’t tell our sponsors at SAP :) ).

Now for the long awaited details:

  • Location: ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference (Orlando, FL)
  • Hosts: Steve Lucas & Mico Yuk
  • Date/Time: Tuesday, October 11, from 6:30-9:30pm EST
  • Room – (Final details will be sent in confirmation email on 9/29)
  • Attendee Count: 250 (space is limited)
  • Special GuestsBridgette Chambers (ASUG CEO) and much more!
  • Prizes – 3 door prizes (just drop your business card in at the door to enter), BI4 Video Confession prizes!
  • BI4 Video Contest - Submit your videos now, or take them at the event to gain a chance to win an iPad2.  More details by clicking here!
  • Features – 2 Open Bars, Open Buffet, networking tables..
  • How to RSVP: Please send an email with ‘RSVP’ in the subject to events@everythingxcelsius.com by Wednesday, October 5, 2011.
  • IMPORTANT! –  You MUST be REGISTERED for the ASUG SAP BusinessObjects conference to attend this event. Space is limited and we are always booked to capacity within 48 hours of this notice, so please send in your RSVP as soon as possible. Confirmation details will be sent out via email prior to the event with instructions on where to pickup your wrist band. All registered guests will be required to show a wristband upon entrance without exception.

Sponsored in part by SAP, the event promises to provide a host of surprise guest, as well as a BI4 video confession booth where customers can tell their story to win exciting prizes, a chance to network with fellow SAP BusinessObjects community members and the SAP BI team, door prizes, 2 open bars and an open buffet! Let’s also not forget it’s ASUG’s 20th Anniversary celebration!

We would also like put in a call for volunteers, if interested please send an email to gurus@everythingxcelsius.com. We can’t wait to see you! Thanks!

A SPECIAL THANK YOU to Kurt BilaferJason Rose, Sanjay Poonen and of course my wonderful co-host Steve Lucas of the SAP BI Team, and Bridgette Chambers and her right-hand man Richard Zepeda of the ASUG team for making this event possible! Thanks for supporting our community!

Mico Yuk is a 2010 SAP Mentor and the founder of the Xcelsius Guru Network, the Everything Xcelsius blog, and co-founder of Benchmarkers Business Intelligence. To learn more about her, please visit her about page.