Designing SAP Analytics Cloud Stories
When Business ask for dashboards to help them with their analytics needs, most of the focus goes into connection, data source, KPI, data quality and calculations/formulas required for dashboard.
One important aspect that gets overlooked is the design aspect of story. This is the first thing that users consume and now with evolution of story-based dashboards, I feel it is vital piece that needs attention from developers.
From my experience of working directly with multiple business users on various SAC dashboards, I am listing few points to consider while developing SAP Analytic Cloud reports.
- Light Theme vs Dark Theme: Most of sample SAC dashboards we see from SAP are having black background, giving it a different look from traditional dashboards that users are accustomed to see. So, for users looking for something different a dark theme can be explored as an option. One caveat to look for is that NOT ALL users would like dark theme as look and feel is very subjective choice, so be ready with light background switch.
- Shapes: Use shapes to show different sections of dashboards, by coloring them differently as compared to background.
- Icons: Use of icons with KPI name gives easy perspective to end user and it is instantly readable.so use Icon for better readability.
- Images: Use Brand or KPI related images to bring in context, clarity, and aesthetics to your story.
- Colors: Don’t make dashboard too color full. Assign a KPI specific color and use the same color throughout the dashboard for this KPI to give structure. Example Status ‘Resolved’ and ‘under review’ in below:
Also using Brand colors are important, and dashboard should be aligned to it.
- Correct chart for correct KPI: Know your KPI and use best chart for it. For example, it is not recommended to use Pie chart for more than 5-6 values as it is not easily consumable. Another example is bar chart. Look for list of values coming from source side because if the values are too long then they would be truncated in a vertical bar, so suggest having a horizontal bar for easy readability. Refer this https://www.sapanalytics.cloud/resources-chart-type-guide/
- Standard Checklist Then we have the checklist that ALL dashboards should be cross checked each time during designing as well as before GO Live stages. They are
- Text Alignment
- Chart Sorting (makes a big difference)
- Camel casing
- Uniform font
- Uniform font size.
All these needs to be consistent
Static vs Dynamic Dashboard: (make dashboard alive):
A CTO asked me to make dashboard that is alive so that he can really explore the data and get insights instead of just reading the KPI’s (though few CTO may ask for opposite depending on their preference). I used few of below features to make dashboard more interactive and added life to it:
- Input Controls: Give users flexibility to switch between two measures and more dimensions to explore data based on their investigation. For example, an input control between Price and quantity to view data in same chart.
- Linked Analysis: Link two or more charts to have a flow of analysis by just clicking chart. Normal filters are older ways to analysis; Linked analysis is more fun for users. Most of users like this added feature:
- Tool Tips: a chart can consume only enough dimensions and measures, to give more perspective about the data add KPI in Tool tip and make user life easier.
- Explorer (most under-rated feature): Almost all dashboards provide the information that business initially thought to seek answer for, but what about giving them an Explorer option to answer their queries that comes after consuming initial dashboard. Users do not need to come to IT to build more dashboards and they would be able to explore their data by them-self. I feel this is one of great features of SAC and does not get highlighted enough.
Smart features (though it is not available for all connection types): If your connection allows then it is recommended to have the Smart features used in your story:
- Smart Insights: Add a footer under the chart with smart insights and give users perspective that only a Machine algorithm can find out as compared to a human analysis.
- Search to Insight: Index your data in SAC and educate your users about searching their data in natural language without IT team help. Save your and their time.
- Time Series Charts: Add the Time series chart which is very handy for users and enables forecasting as default.
These were few of pointers I feel a developer should keep in mind while designing or developing his SAC stories. I understand that there are more pointers around designing and few more SAC features however these were based on my experience.
Bottom line is that Focus should be to give your dashboard a direction and help users in their journey of data.
Also keep in mind not all organizations are alike, few organizations bank more on IT teams while few like there business teams to explore and IT teams just serves for technical support. So, dashboard designing also varies to them as more IT dependent clients would be interested in static dashboard (just consume), while others would like to have more dynamic dashboard with more explore options in it.
Hope this helps you in your next SAC dashboard creation.