MM004 – “WOW! But… can I export to Excel?”
(5+1 Tips to keep in mind in building a successful data visualization)
1 – A few seconds. This is all you have.
The longer it takes users to get a clear situation about their business by checking on the dashboard in your home page, the poorer your job will have been. Be simple in representing information (not data). This is definitely very difficult work. And remember, always compare to something else: to the previous year, to the budget, … Absolute numbers, they don’t tell anything.
2 – Each dashboard number has a phone number behind.
Organize your data visualization by keeping in mind your company organization, i.e. by competence centre. It is not in CEO’s duties to waste time in trying to drill a number down. He just needs to look at this number, pick up the phone and call the manager who is in charge of drilling this number down and finding out an answer.
3 – A recipe turns out to be good if you use ingredients in the right way.
Be aware of pros and cons of the software you are using to develop the data visualization. Try to custom the needs of your users in terms of data visualization to fit your software at best, not the other way round. Be proactive, suggest other ways to represent information. (Sure, it all makes sense in case you already have a tool in your company).
4 – Be like a politician.
Developing a corporate data visualization environment may turn out to be like building a tower. Brick by brick. And, before starting with the very first brick, you have to persuade the management it is worth it. To do this (a) identify a limited, quite simple and fast-to-get analysis, not yet available, and (b) find an internal, high level sponsorship who can support your tower, until the last brick is laid (yes I know, there will never be a last brick…)
5 – Be careful with your creativity.
Your childhood dream was to become an artist, sure. Yet, life has brought you here. Never mind. You can still partly satisfy your creativity by developing your dashboard, but please do not go too far. Always look at your dashboard as you were one of your users and ask yourself “what do I get from this?”. Otherwise, you’ll end up risk making the most wonderful data visualization ever, but no one will use it. And BTW remember, green means good, red means bad. Always. (maybe color grading could be a smart choice in your graph)
5+1 – “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”
(Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”)
No matter what you have done. Be always ready to give a positive answer to the first question: “Can I export to Excel?”. Sad, but true. Yet, don’t despair. If your dashboard has been correctly designed and made, management and key users will figure out that their life is better without manualy dealing with a huge amount of data in Excel.