The C-level executives in the organization needed a simple and easy to use Dashboard Application to understand Global Sales across all the Business Units and Countries in which TE Connectivity ( Formerly known as Tyco Electronics Corporation) operates to understand global macro-economic and regional factors influencing sales to our customers. Hence a few Months ago we started on a very interesting activity which involved in building a Dashboard that is both challenging and intriguing. The most critical challenge was not very technical it was meant for senior management who used excel sheets and PDFs for most of their analytic needs and not very familiar with interactive dashboard for their analytic need. So the dashboard that we had to build has to be as simple possible without compromising the rich feature set needed to answer any sales related question which the users have in mind.
So we want ahead with a design which is very familiar to them with a single control panel and single interactive chart so that the executives have undivided focus and the chart would justify the number it is going to represent. I know some of you would ask all sophisticated dashboards involve in having multiple charts , selectors and KPIs mashed together in one panels. However I would like to defer here , I think the most sophisticated dashboard should be very simple. Now you would ask what is simplicity. My definition is if we measure simplicity in a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being most simple and 0 being most complex. Then simplicity is 10-Number of Hours of training (0 hrs of training means its at simplicity of 10 and 1 hrs of training means its at 10-9 = 9 in simplicity scale.
Now this dashboard I am going to elaborate and provide template to build yourself is upwards of 9.5 ; which means it only needs 1/2 Hrs of training for a users to be productive.
The dashboard loads into a summery page which shows all the selector in the left panel. Including some selector , currencies and time period selector. If a user selects a particular time period additional options based on the time period gets activated. The users can slide on bottom of chart to select a focus area. Simple!!
Once some one understand the first tab. The next tabs are the data represented in different slices. The chart type changes automatically based on the measures selected to make sure optimal utilization of real estate and visibility into numbers.Also all the additional selectors which are relevant gets added in the new tabs and if a user wants to see the detail results he can either go to explorer button on top which opens a relevant information space or report button which opens a report which is fully drill enabled for drill down and drill through functionality.
For this chart users are interested in how the sales are for different segments and how they are growing so we built a chart synchronization mechanism which synchronizes multiple chart and shows as if its part of a single chart. Simple right !!
Now for the next tab we wanted to show data in a regional context. So what better way to show than to show in a geographic map. For this purpose although SAP dashboard has some components they are not artful enough for our consideration. For this we chose a third party component that is delivered by Datasavvy maps which is light and very reasonably priced (costed us ~1k$ for world map enterprise licence)
Now the most critical thing is how to show my top customers and top selling products without compromising the simplicity. For this we leveraged custom synchronized charts again which shows graphically the sales and growth in same line for all top 20 customer by sales
Now dashboard is built to be very simple but it still involves users going through a lot of data and its not very easy to put together how different aspects of business stack together in a single snapshot. Also executives are very familiar with briefings where a single snapshots of the business is provided with some comments from Analyst for reasons whats actually going in the business and what is driving the growth. As most of the causalities are macro economic driven factors which can not be fully understood just from data.
Once we have implemented this dashboard our senior executives have requested a supporting One-Pager for Executive Briefing which was designed as a dashboard and covered in our next blog post (Part-2) which can be accessed by clicking here.
So we went ahead with creation of a executive Briefing dashboard which puts together different aspects of data into a single screen along with providing ability to save data for analysts utilizing custom web services. I have described is the Second part of the blog Post here.
Here is a quick way to get started by using the above Executive Sales Dashboard Template available in Business Objects 4.1 ( Xcelsius) dashboard template if you are interested in leveraging the design. The dashboard template is in .txt file extension format and needs to be renamed to .xlf file extension and opened in the Business Objects Dashboard Designer Tool.
Download the Executive Sales Dashboard Template Click here