Excel – How Much is Too Much ?
“I use Excel nearly every day and will continue to do so … I also use my toothbrush daily, and while I could, I don’t try to wash my car with it.”
The big difference here is that whilst no-one seems to be tempted to use their toothbrush to wash their car, all too often we are sucked into using Excel for projects which stretch the limits of what is sensible.
This is an issue which is inherited by SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (aka Xcelsius). John goes on to identify four key issues caused by overuse of Excel, three of which apply directly to Xcelsius:
1) It is very easy for any user to accidentally make a change that corrupts the integrity of the report. An EXCEL spreadsheet, especially a very large one is very prone to having errors introduced any time changes are made or data is entered.
3) When a new view of the data or new report is needed, there is often a bottleneck that occurs while you wait on the “EXCEL Guru” to have time to make it happen.
4) Especially with larger, more complex spreadsheets, it takes a lot of time to make changes, while ensuring that the changes don’t impact the integrity of another part of the spreadsheet. Changes that are seemingly simple, can in fact take hours or days, including lots of troubleshooting to identify issues.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Xcelsius and its innovative use of Excel was the single biggest reason for its success. However, the Excel spreadsheet is also the single biggest reason for the complexity of so many Xcelsius dashboards, because as users require more features in their dashboards, so the underlying spreadsheet becomes more complex and sooner rather than later falls foul of the three issues identified above.
However, there is a way to significantly reduce this problem and perhaps eliminate it altogether. The vast majority of formulas in an interactive Xcelsius dashboard are there to create multi-dimensional (or OLAP) views on the data. This is how ALL business users want to see their data (by product, by time, by region, by …), but this is something which Excel formulas are particularly unsuited to, because Excel is inherently 2-dimensional (or perhaps 2.25 dimensional if you use multiple sheets).
The solution to this is to embed OLAP capabilities directly into the Xcelsius dashboard and this is exactly what XWIS from Antivia does, making it easy to connect to corporate data and to display and manipulate this data multi-dimensionally, just as users want it, all without having to write Excel formulas.
So, if you want to dramatically reduce the time, complexity and cost of creating dashboards in SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards/Xcelsius, by eliminating unnecessary Excel formulas, then take a look at the short (6min) video below or visit the XWIS Advantage site at http://www.antivia.com/xwis-advantage.