I entered the SAP Xcelsius Challenge for Community Poll Results to flex my Xcelsius skills and also offer some fresh options for dashboarding to the SAP SDN community. I’m pleased to report that my submission received an honorable mention in the competition. Thanks to everyone who voted!
In this post I will explain the tools, goals, content and structure that I decided to work with for this challenge and my best-practice steps for developing an Xcelsius dashboard.
1. Tool selection
I started by defining the high level goal, and selecting the tool that fits the best. SAP Crystal Dashboard Design (formerly known as Xcelsius) is a great tool and platform – obviously for dashboarding – but it’s not for all purposes. SAP BusinessObjects offers a wide range of tools that can solve specific scenarios; these are well integrated and often a combination of two or more is the best solution.
2. Purpose & Detailed Goals
Why am I building a dashboard? What insight am I interested in?
Besides displaying the poll results, my goal was to allow performance analysis of continents, regions and countries participating in the Winter Olympics, with a focus on the games in Vancouver.
In my opinion, to ask and answer the above questions is very important and often overlooked in favour of defining KPIs first. Without setting a clear goal, I wouldn’t have been able to decide which KPI was more or less useful than any others. With that defined I proceeded to answer the next questions.
How can I achieve the above goal? What are the best performance indicators? How can I display these KPIs?
- Number of medals
- Number of gold medals
- Weighted number of medals (gold * 3 + silver * 2 + bronze)
- Number of medals / population
- Number of medals won by country / Total number of medals
Possible display options for KPIs
- Trends – Which indicator’s trend would be best to see?
- Comparisons – What would be the dimensions to compare?
I chose the most common KPI: Number of medals. But as you will see, this single KPI can be displayed in a number of ways. A less traditional way – in terms of the Olympics – is grouping by geographical dimension. This gives a unique view, not to mention that it allows me to showcase my DrillChart add-on.
How can I best organize my content?
At this point, I decided to summarize what information I had and try to find a place for my content on the screen:
- The mandatory poll results – vertical bar chart.
- Number of medals by region – horizontal bar chart
The Poll chart has all the sports listed, so it gives an opportunity to use it as a selector too. I thought it would be good to connect these two charts and allow the user to analyze the number of medals by sports as well. Although it might not be as clear as a horizontal navigation bar spanning the header of the dashboard, I opted to use it – with clear caption – to save some screen real estate.
The order of selection would be: Sport → Region, so I put the Poll Results to the top left side, where the viewer generally starts scanning the screen. I used the two colors of the Vancouver games – green and blue – to make a clear distinction between the poll and the medal analysis.
The two main charts consume about half of the screen, and I still had a lot to show:
- Trend lines
- Distribution of medals – Gold, Silver, Bronze
- Historical aggregations
- Comparison to the previous game
All the above information is dependent on the user selections (Sport – Continent / Region) and gives more insight into the data. I used micro-charts under the main medal chart to show the details.
The final part is the actual development. Luckily this is straightforward – and much faster – when the functional and layout design are well defined, although this is always an iterative process with some modifications.
And last but not least, the final dashboard is online in full size here.
I was happy to practice a little bit on this example, and would be happy to hear your feedback! And if you are looking for some creative dashboarding expertise, Clariba has a wealth of experience and very talented consultants in this area. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also read more information about the SAP Winter Olympics Dashboard (Xcelsius) Challenge Winners.