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This article was contributed by David Wright, a SAP professional and consultant.
Organizations that use SAP Analytics cloud solutions to execute augmented planning often face numerous challenges when designing the ideal dashboard. This is usually due to strict delivery deadlines and a long list of requirements. These essential requirements do not leave professionals much time to do proper user research, which makes it challenging to determine whether the dashboard is functional, user-friendly, and end-user indispensable.
However, beautiful and user-friendly SAP Analytics is both an easy and efficient way to build a cloud dashboard.
Five tips for a great dashboard
1. Group information in small groups
People often find SAP Analytics cloud dashboards with random depictions of information. This can make it very challenging to understand any information displayed on the dashboard. Apart from that, any kind of scattered information without any logical cluster, visual overloading or related information placed in separate tabs can also clutter the dashboard. It can be very time-intensive and challenging for the dashboard user to navigate information by collecting bits and pieces from various tabs and cluttered, irrational displays.
An easy way to fix this problem is to group the relevant information together and separate the specific unrelated groups. Also, provide logical and explicit group headers for relevant information. One can create further tabs to place information that does not require cross-reference from other tabs or is not logically relevant. That’s why users need to make sure the dashboard is easy to navigate and visually appealing.
2. Use simple visualization
Dashboard is about sharing information with others, just like telling a story using data. It is therefore important to ensure that the visuals are smooth, as this will convey the information with greater clarity. One of the many visualization challenges that users face is when they have to learn the type of chart and guess the successful data due to the inaccuracy of tests caused by long labels. So, when these two things come together, visualization can become completely impractical.
That’s why most experts recommend that you make the necessary efforts to ensure that labels are short and crisp. Other than that, the data is always well understood to take advantage of the prevalent types of charts such as line charts, bar charts, pie charts and column charts.
3. Keep critical KPIs on screen
It is no secret that the duration of attention of users is decreasing day by day. The numbers indicate that in the year 2000, the average user’s attention span was 12 seconds. Unfortunately, that number is now only eight seconds away. This means that all complex information must be strategically placed on the screen, as otherwise the information or data may be ignored or missed by the user.
There are many cases when someone may need an immediate response from the user, but somehow the user either misses the information or ignores it. Therefore, it is always recommended to ensure proper placement of data and information. The user should see the ad at a glance immediately after opening the SAP Analytics Cloud Planning Dashboard. (This also explains why various websites or newspapers feature bold and big headlines, as it helps them grab the reader’s attention.)
4. Enable users to create their own versions
Most SAP Analytics cloud dashboards are created by professionals in the IT department. This means that the dashboard will come with pre-configured labels, layouts and contents. While this approach is excellent for increasing efficiency, it can also be challenging for the end-user to understand.
Different users have different effective mental models for interpreting information; So allowing users to create their own versions, or at least allowing them to make the necessary customizations to suit their mental model, can be very beneficial. Enabling users to change layouts or chart types to suit their preferences can further help relay information with greater efficiency and effectiveness. So, feel free to allow end-users to change or customize the dashboard, but provide a reset button that will bring the dashboard to default. This will ensure seamless correction of the error in case of unwanted user action.
5. Include industry-specific semantics or colors
Colors are basic when designing a dashboard. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the colors are used properly because otherwise, they can cause confusion or even distract the user. This will undoubtedly affect the effectiveness of the dashboard.
Therefore, it is highly recommended to use colors that draw users’ attention to important warnings, cross thresholds and even highlight any discrepancies. However, avoid using any bright or large shades and colors to enhance the look of the chart or complement the organization’s brand. Instead, use semantics and colors that are industry-specific to visualize the status or position of business data and draw attention to where it is most needed.
Creating an interactive and engaging SAP Analytics cloud dashboard can be very rewarding for delivering data and information properly. So, be sure to take advantage of the tips mentioned above to create the ideal dashboard. In case of any further confusion, consult the experts of SAP implementation companies.
David Wright is a SAP professional who provides consulting services to his clients for the SAP Analytics cloud.
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