Posts Tagged ‘SAP Crystal Dashboard Design’

Sep
19

Free XWIS test-drive coming to a city near You!

During my keynote at the recent “Mastering SAP BusinessObjects” conference in Melbourne, Australia I said “in order to make Xcelsius or SAP Dashboards enterprise ready you need XWIS from Antivia.” I said this because Antivia’s XWIS closes five key gaps in Xcelsius / SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards functionality which are fundamental to enterprise dashboard success:

  1. Reduced complexity
  2. Design productivity
  3. Dashboard performance
  4. End-user functionality
  5. Mobile delivery

Just as WebIntelligence makes it easy to manage multi-dimensional data with its micro-cube, so XWIS brings similar in-dashboard OLAP capabilities to Xcelsius development. This reduces dashboard complexity by avoiding the need to create multiple connections to the server for different slices of data and by eliminating the formulas required to knit these slices of data together in the spreadsheet. Less complexity means you’ll achieve a significant increase in design productivity (meaning more dashboards, developed more quickly) and at the same time you’ll see a dramatic improvement in dashboard performance (both initial load and click-to-click). XWIS also enables the out-of-the-box addition of key end-user functionality such as drill-down, drill-across and “slice and dice”. And to top it off, all this is available both off-line and on tablet devices. But, I want you to see this for yourself … so, I’d encourage you to get along to one of the hands-on XWIS test-drives that Antivia is planning, this fall. By taking a test-drive, you will see all of these capabilities in action as you build your own interactive, connected dashboard, from scratch, against a significant dataset, within minutes, using XWIS.

Antivia is running test-drives in Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia and New York during the first week of October.  My good friend Donald MacCormick (a key-player in the acquisition of Xcelsius by Business Objects and one of the guest speakers I hand-picked for my BI Dashboard Formula) is hosting each test-drive. Given the interactive nature of these events, space is limited, so I would urge you to register for an XWIS test-drive today.

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.

Sep
5

Live Dashboard Training with Mico Yuk in Zurich at BOAK 2012

I’m sure many of you have heard about Mico’s online training series, the BI Dashboard Formula, that starts on the 6th of September. Well Mico is now taking this training on the road to Zurich, Switzerland, for our ONLY live event on September 19th, as part of the BOAK 2012 Conference.

Mico will be teaching the entire 7-steps of the BI Dashboard Formula live for the first time! See below for details:

  • Step 1. Planning – The Most Important but Overlooked Step
  • Step 2. Scoping – The Art of Gathering Requirements
  • Step 3. Prototyping – Developing the ‘Perfect’ Dashboard
  • Step 4. Validating the Data – Before making False Promises
  • Step 5. Connecting the Data – The Moment of Truth!
  • Step 6. UAT (aka User Attack Testing) – How to get Thru Quickly
  • Step 7. Go Live – Living Through Dashboard Armageddon
  • Step 8. Knowledge Transfer – The key to Job Security
  • Click here to read the full details of each training module on the BIDF homepage!

Registration closes on September 17th, and we have 6 spots left as of this blog post!

  • Where: Zurich, Switzerland
  • When: September 19th, 2012
  • What time: 9am – 4:30pm CEST
  • How to Register: http://bit.ly/PWhvx4
  • What to expect: We’ve been told that being stuck with Mico in a room all day discussing BI is career changing literally. Lots of fun and lots of learning!

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

Aug
27

Recording, Slides & Blueprint Template available for Mico’s Dashboard Scoping webinar

Last week Tuesday, Mico gave a sneak peek webinar of the BI Dashboard Formula -Module 2: Scoping. Although the webinar only lasted 30 minutes, it was a power session packed with lots of good content.

During the webinar, Mico discussed 3 key elements of requirements:

  1. DATA requirements – Capture all the details about the KPI’s and metrics such as the definition, how to calculate, the data sourc(s), any business rules and much more
  2. FUNCTIONAL requirements – Learn how your business user expects to ‘use’ the dashboard
  3. DESIGN requirements – Define the look and feel of the dashboard

To gain access to the webinar recording, please click here to visit the BusinessObjects Experts website, which includes the slides and Blueprint Template or copy and paste this link into your browser: http://bit.ly/QahZR9.

**Note: The BI Dashboard Formula officially CLOSES on Friday, August, 31st, to get ready for classes on Sept 6th! To get instant access to the Members Area for a limited time, please visit the home page, then click on the **FREE TRIAL** link in the top menu!**

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

Aug
20

Webinar in 24 hrs: Xcelsius Dashboard Scoping

Join Mico tomorrow for yet another FREE webinar that relates to her new BI Dashboard Formula training series.

Due to a number of requests to have “a little more time to gain approval”, we have re-opened the registration page until Friday, August 31st, 2012.  As the class is scheduled to start on September 6th, this will be your absolute LAST OPPORTUNITY to REGISTER for the BI Dashboard Formula.

While presented at a few conferences, Mico has never focused on this topic  in such detail before as it’s an excerpt from the BIDF teachings.  Expect to leave this webinar seeing BI Dashboard Scoping in a new light.  In order to successfully complete your dashboard scoping you must…

Gather three types of requirements:

1. DATA requirements – Capture all the details about the KPI’s and metrics such as the definition, how to calculate, the data sourc(s), any business rules and much more
2. FUNCTIONAL requirements – Learn how your business user expects to ‘use’ the dashboard
3. DESIGN requirements – Define the look and feel of the dashboard

Here are the details to register:

  1. WHERE – Click here to Register (or copy and paste into browser: http://bit.ly/Olqki0)
  2. WHEN – Tomorrow (08/21/2012) at 1pm EST / 10am PST sharp
  3. NOTE – If you cannot attend the live webinar be sure to register to receive the link to the webinar recording
  4. WHAT - Mico will cover about 40% of  Module 3 of the BI Dashboard Formula Training Series, the most popular teaching of the series and will describe how to use the BI Dashboard Formula Blueprint (template)

Hope you can join us!

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

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
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.

Aug
24

The value of the SAP BusinessObjects Ecosystem

Ryan Goodman’s last post, Understanding BI4 Dashboards and XWIS, drew a couple of comments (here and there) expressing frustration that capabilities of third party extensions ought to be delivered as a native part of the SAP Business Objects product.

To my mind this is a glass-half-empty view of things. Although the BI4/XI3 platforms come with numerous connectivity options for Xcelsius, no software is ever 100% feature complete (that is what upgrades are all about), so inevitably there is room for people to dream up ways in which features could be better. The great thing about SAP BusinessObjects is that (through both their Crystal and BusinessObjects histories) they have had the foresight to make sure their products are open to third-party developers to extend and enhance their BI platform through an ecosystem of innovation. So the glass-is-half-full view is that rather than having to wait for SAP BusinessObjects to provide a particular feature in a future release there is a product which fills them today.

(As a side note, the nature of third-party extension means that this also follows Vishal Sikka’s vision of “innovation without disruption”, with extension products integrating seamlessly with existing versions of the platform.) As I mentioned in a recent post on BI standardization, this partner ecosystem is one of the key advantages of choosing a large BI platform vendor.

In one of the comments the concern was that customers have to spend more money on such partner extensions. Again this is a glass-half-empty view because, whilst extensions will usually come at a cost (third-parties have to make a living too) they will also usually be designed to provide a return on investment. Anything else is just too hard to sell, so using the right extensions should be a financial saving rather than a financial drain.

The other comment seemed a bit confusing, it started by asking “why are we looking for different products to try and integrate with one another” and ended up suggesting a jump to a completely different dashboarding environment, which would require much more integration effort with the core BI platform, than any well designed platform extension would need. This comment is doubly ironic as many platform extension products are specifically designed to add features which avoid the need to jump to new non-integrated environments.

Overall I would recommend you resist the urge to be indignant and reject third party tools because they “should have come in the box”, this is a classic instance of being “right rather than effective”, make full use of the power of the ecosystem around your BI platform, assess extensions on the ROI they generate for your current situation and only when you run out of options inside your ecosystem consider non-integrated tools outside it.

Donald MacCormick is the Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Antivia, an SAP® software solution partner, and creator of XWIS the Xcelsius-to-SAP BusinessObjects connectivity solution. In past years, he was a long term member of BusinessObjects and Crystal, and part of the team that brought Xcelsius into the BusinessObjects portfolio.

Jun
8

Xcelsius SDK Tips

During everyday development with the Xcelsius SDK there are quite a few things that can be taken for granted once you get comfortable with the technology and process. These “for-granteds” can often be points overlooked by developers getting started with the SDK and can cause considerable pain if they’re not properly evaluated and accounted for up front.

Here are 3 points to be aware of that I’ve been meaning to cover. I was reminded of all of them again this week while fielding various related questions from people getting started with the SDK. Hopefully they can help you out.

1. Flash Shared Local Objects just got more slippery

With the most recent release of Flash Player 10.3, users can now delete Shared Local Objects with ease. Individuals could always clear out SLO’s but the most recent player release made it quick and easy to accomplish. In short, if you’re developing custom components for Xcelsius that rely on the use of SLO’s, you may want to brace for more support calls and also document and alert your users on how SLO’s are leveraged. You can bet people will be inadvertently deleting them.

2. XLP’s and XLX’s should be archived

XLP’s, or Xcelsius Add-On Packager Files, generate unique XLX installer files so that end users can install your custom components in their Xcelsius environments. XLP’s stamp XLX’s with unique ID’s that are used by the Xcelsius Add-On Manager to determine if a component that is attempting to be installed already exists in that Xcelsius environment. Long story short, if you lose your original XLP file that you used to generate and distribute your original XLX file(s) and you have to create a new XLP file and generate new XLX files for subsequent distribution to end users, you’re likely going to encounter installation issues that require any preexisting component by the same fully qualified name to be uninstalled before the new one can be installed. This obviously isn’t the end of the world but it can create confusion and should be avoided if possible.

3. Common Component Classes – First in Wins

If you have multiple add-ons that you maintain and some or all of those components leverage a set of base classes and those components and the base class functionality that they rely on can potentially or do evolve (get released) at different paces, be keenly aware that the Flash Player operates using first-class-loaded-wins. This means that any components that rely on a common class will be using the first version of that class that was loaded by the Player. If there are any inconsistencies between the first class loaded and the class functionality that a given component is actually expecting, this can create some obvious and not so obvious behaviors and/or bugs at runtime. Be sure to nail down a strategy that allows all of your components to coexist and evolve peacefully.

Evan DeLodder is CTO at Centigon Solutions, an SAP Partner focused on the development of cutting edge mapping technologies in the Business Intelligence space. To learn more about him, please visit our Gurus page.

May
12

Mico’s #SAPPHIRENOW / #ASUG2011 Schedule

Hi Everyone,

With less than 3 days left for the SAPPHIRENOW / ASUG2011 Conference in Orlando, FL,  I just wanted to do a quick check-in. Before I get to my schedule, I wanted to share my interview from 2 weeks ago with Liz Brenner: “Follow the Leader: Living Her Dream- the Brave Mico Yuk“, for those of who that want to find out more about me. I also want to thank Liz for such an awesome job!

Now to the matter at hand! Below is a list of events where you can find me, along with my role in CAPS (this reflects about 1/4 of my schedule, so I really hope to meet with as many of you as I can).

Monday, May 16th

  • SPEAKER: SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (formerly Xcelsius) Gurus- FAQ session | Time: 3:00 to 4:00 pm | Location: Broadcast Center 2 (ASUG booth on the show floor)
    • How to leverage SAP BusinesObjects dashboards in your organization
    • Why SAP BusinessObjects dashboard is the best tool for your organization
    • How and when to integrate it with the other tools in the SAP BusinessObjects Suite of software
    • How and when to use the most popular connectivity options
  • JUDGE/JUROR: SAP HANA InnoJam Final | Time: 6:00 to 11:00pm |  Location:  Hilton Hotel (next to convention center)

Tuesday, May 17th

  • MODERATOR: ASUG’s 1st Women’s Leadership Breakfast Panel | Time: 7:00 to 9:00 am | Location: Dux Room at the Peabody Hotel
  • SPEAKER: Xcelsius Gurus Dashboard Methodology 101- 7 Proven Steps to successfully developing your SAP BusinessObjects Dashboard (Xcelsius) with Ryan Goodman | Time: 3:00 to 4:00 pm | Location: S322- Benchmarking Sessions
    • Step 1: Scoping- Gathering Requirements
    • Step 2: Mock up Design (Excel Data Policy)
    • Step 3: Universe Creation (Data Validation)
    • Step 4: Data Connectivity (Ex: QaaWS, Live Office, Cross Domain Policy)
    • Step 5: User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
    • Step 6: Production (Dashboard Launch)
    • Step 7: Change Management (Training & Knowledge Transfer)

Wednesday, May18th

  • INTERVIEWER: Live Interview with Bridgette Chambers (CEO, America’s SAP User’ Group) | Time: 4:30 to 5:00 pm | Location: ASUG Studio

I also want to thank all the folks at SAP and ASUG that have been working with me over the last couple of weeks to make this all possible! Look forward to seeing everyone there!

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 our About Us page.