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Santhosh.jpgUniversity Alliances (UA) congratulates Santhosh Palanisamy from Curtin University and Eric Maure from Victoria University in taking first and second place in the Australia/New Zealand Dashboard Design Competition.

Santhosh and Eric along with support from their advisors spent a portion of their most recent semester designing a Dashboard for the non-profit Junior Achievements.

The goal of the UA Spotlight Series is to exchange insights with professors, lecturers, students, researchers and the entire SAP ecosystem and community.

Santhosh Palanisamy, Curtin University
First Place Finisher

Tell us a bit about yourselves. What is your university and areas of study? A fun fact about you, your hobbies, or any related information that makes yourself unique that you’d like to share with the community?

I’m currently in my last semester of Postgraduate studies in Information Systems at Curtin University, Perth. I have a Masters in Business Information Management from the University of Western Australia. Being an Electronics and Communication Engineer, I started my career as a Programmer Analyst with Cognizant Technology Solutions. Business Intelligence, Data mining and Expert systems are my areas of interest. Being a bit of a laid back guy, I always tried to keep things simple and have always believed in working smart rather than sweating it out. In addition, I have always loved watching cricket, the English Premier League, and the AFL (Australian Football League) has become a recent addiction.

Tell us a little bit about your experience building your dashboard. What was the goal of the project?

Although the project requirements & objectives were clearly stated, it was a challenging experience, especially when you don’t have anyone from the customer side to consult or clarify your understanding. But, it was a great experience for an aspiring consultant, where you have to understand the requirements of the customer with some level of acceptable assumptions.

The goal of the project was to make a dashboard for a large international non-profit organization to provide insights into their financial data for the last 5 years. Based on the key performance indicators provided by the organization, the dashboard was supposed to provide them with a graphical summary as well as details of some of the financial data with minimum navigation.

What were you most successful at? What was your greatest challenge? Were there any obstacles you had to overcome? If so, what steps did you take?

One of the biggest challenges was to make the data readily available to the user with very little navigation and the proper graphics to make it look more appealing. Simple up and down trend arrows will have a big impact on the person using the dashboard, especially on the financial data.

Also including “What-if” scenarios to look at the data for future projection or planning was an interesting experience.

All of the expectations were met as per the requirements. The data provided was more than what was needed similar to a business scenario. Careful understanding of the required data and discarding the data that was of less impact for the current requirement was challenging.

In addition, my strong background in SQL helped to sort the data, which I think worked to my advantage. Once the data was sorted, designing the SAP dashboard was straightforward and this provided a very good user interface. The materials and other relevant manuals provided by SAP regarding Xcelsius certainly made it easy to work with the design.

The skills you grew and gained from working with SAP’s Analytics solutions are highly valued in the marketplace. How did your experiences with the competition help advance and further your knowledge of SAP’s Analytics solutions and your marketable skills?

Apart from the technical skills, it had a bit of everything on the software development life cycle including: understanding the requirements; sorting the data; designing the dashboard; testing whether all the KPI’s were met; and also creating a user manual.

Considering that this was my first time designing a dashboard with Xcelsius, I learned a lot of skills which will help me to kick start my career. Also having hands-on experience with a leading analytical solution should be of real high value in the industry.

Gaining feedback or valuable suggestions from SAP consultants or people who have experience in developing the application, regarding the design and business solutions provided is always helpful in learning more and continuously advancing.

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Eric Maure, Victoria University
Second Place Finisher

Tell us a bit about yourselves. What is your university and areas of study? A fun fact about yourself, hobbies, or any related information that makes yourself unique that you’d like to share with the community?

I have just finished my Masters in ERP Systems at Victoria University. I took this course because I have been curious about SAP for a long time and would like Eric.jpgto work within the ERP space in the near future.

I love watching movies and documentaries, plus playing social badminton. Lately, my wife and I have spent many hours learning how to play Starcraft2!

Tell us a little bit about your experience building your dashboard. What was the goal of the project?

The Junior Achievement dashboard challenge required us to design a dashboard that would cater to the KPIs identified by the organization. Moreover, we also had to take into account, in our design, the possibility of the organization adding more KPIs

What were you most successful at? What was your greatest challenge? Were there any obstacles you had to overcome? If so, what steps did you take?

I believe that I was successful in coming up with a dashboard layout that can be easily enhanced. The greatest challenge I faced with this task was choosing the best dashboard layout. I considered many different designs which all seemed to look good on paper.

The challenge here was that I had to select only one design and as early as I could because the time provided to develop the dashboard overlapped with other personal commitments.

In addition, I needed to make sure the data set I was given was properly cleansed and formatted in a standard manner. To make the final selection on the dashboard design I was to develop, I presented all my designs/prototypes to my number one adviser, my wife. Based on her inputs, I was able to create a hybrid dashboard which consisted of elements from the various designs that I had come up with.

The skills you grew and gained from working with SAP’s Analytics solutions are highly valued in the marketplace. How did your experiences with the competition help advance and furtheryour knowledge of SAP’s Analytics solutions and your marketable skills?

For me, SAP is like one big candy shop. It has so many wonderful technologies that I want to try out. Since I have always been comfortable working with data and have an interest in data visualization, the dashboard design competition has helped me to not only appreciate SAP’s Analytics Solutions, but also to find my favorite SAP technology and role.

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