To my opinion, there are situations where these kinds of curved columns or bars might be useful (e.g., they were used in the annual report of the Swiss Post für visualizing relative outliers) - but they are unusal and difficult to realize automatically with tools like Excel. But I think we could even use loops, zig zag lines, etc. How else could we demonstrate extreme outliers of this kind?
Yes, we could use tree map charts showing - in addition - parts of the whole. Or - what I like best - using area instead of linear comparisons as shown above.
In general, all these "rules" cannot be not exhaustive in any kind - and they need additional information and interpretation...
UN 1 Unify terminology,
The most important point is, that we are able to distinguish between the different scenarios. 1-letter abbreviations do not allow this - at least not for plan and prior year. So, 2-letters are the closest we can get to a distinct differentiation. When one uses AC, PL, BU, PY, FC, it is simple and straightforward to understand, is it not? Of course there are other topics that use the same acronyms. But with any kind of acronym, be it 2-, 3- or 4-letters, we'd have this "issue". Personally, I do not see any additional value to use 3-letter acronyms, except maybe for FC. But then we need to discuss how to treat more than 1 Forecast in a single chart, since this is not only a question of the abbreviation, but also of the visualization.
Although I agree that there is a need to show scenario formats in relative variances I still see an issue in the perception of these values, if the scenario indicators do not end with the green/red line representing the percentage value.
We all know the problems in the perception of 3D-Elements: there is always a fix absolute "rest" on top of the represented values, which is misleading.
I think this argument does also apply to the actual IBCS representation of relative variances: there is always a fix element on top of the represented values. Please have a look at the attached picture.
Or do you think the color difference is enough to interpret the %-values correctly?
I see your point - however, what is your recommendation? Increasing the font size and sizing the table to exactly fit into the given space? With the result, that every table uses different font sizes, column widths and row heights? Does that look better and is this what makes customers happy?
If you compare it with sheet music: This would mean, that music notes become bigger when a song does not fill the complete sheet. I've never seen that. And I've never heard a musician complain about white space on a sheet of music with few notes. Same is with engineers and architects.
The answer on the question "What do we do with all that empty space?" is: If there is more interesting information, then post it (CONDENSE). If not: Don't be afraid of white space.
I would like to post your question to the LinkedIn Forum where you already posted another question. This place here is to discuss the standard and its changes. The LinkedIn Form is the place where all consultants meet and (hopefully) help quickly.
UN 4.2 Unify time series analyses
Rolf and I suggest to complete this section by adding a symbol for year-to-go in analogy to year-to-date:
Year-to-go analyses (YTG) refer to the period from the present to the end of the (fiscal) year (YTG time span). Where helpful, visualize analyses showing YTG values by appending an underscore to the time period name, e.g. “Jun-2015_”.
Great work! This is very helpful implementing proper structure to various reports.
I can see a few flaws however, which I would like to highlight:
1) The Acronym SUCCESS is memorable, but I don't think it is accurate as it is not STRUCTURED. It should be
Yes SSESCCU is not an acronym anymore, but it conveys the right information in terms of flow.
2) I have occurrences of charts on same pages that shows progression of data, some of them fluctuating very little (e.g. 99.8%, 99.7%, 99.9%) and other data fluctuating widely (e.g. 20%, 40%, 75%), How to show the same scale on a single page with such differences of variations.
Actually I do think that white space is a very comfortable and useful thing - it just allows us/designers of reports to organize information on a page in a way that the readers' eyes are directed to the information of interest quickly.
We do have two guiding principles of how to attract the readers' attention - one is to work with correctly sized deviation charts (e.g. red color attracts us, the largest bar is one that catches our attention quickly), the second is to apply a very clean layout which uses white space wisely from a design perspective. In the end, having some white space gives us a lot of flexibility when it comes to applying responsive design. Pretty soon there will not be much space left if you have to transfer reports to an iPad or even a smartphone screen.
In most cases however, I do think that adding data and comparisons is delivering a lot of value to the customer and thus should be the first attempt to convince him/her how to use white space wisely ;)
Jan - I think you are completely right. Quite frankly, we needed a second rule in order to have at least two rules in this section and 14 rules in the CHECK chapter for symmetry reasons on the poster :-).
Any idea for other "data adjustments" worth being visualized but not based on a point-anchor? What about manual corrections?
CH 4 Use the same scales
I think the reason for this controversial discussion is, that Alex, Lars, Raphael, and Tilo talk about interactive analytic systems (where you never know what numbers will pop up), whereas Rolf comes from the design of static reports. So let's talk about interactive analytic systems:
I agree, that all the situations can occur as described. However, following Raphael, I would not cut bars with absolute values exceeding a threshold automatically and by default. The default for absolute values should be "proper scaling". Instead, I would propose an interactive functionality allowing to change the proper scaling by manually adding a threshold in order to better visually analyze the smaller values. However, this interactive functionality has more the character of "zooming into small values" than of "marking outliers". So I would suggest to propose such a functionality as part of CH 4.5 "Use magnifying glasses" and to use a different visualization for the truncated bars in this case. Then we can stick to using outlier indicators only to indicate big relative variances of small values.
CH 4 Use the same scales
Picture for CH 4.3: I also vote for changing the picture - not only, because the similarity to CH 4.1 might be misleading, but also because I think, that "Sales" and "Profit" on one page should always be scaled identically in order to visually perceive the "Profit on sales". I would prefer an example, where a chart on country level is on the same page as a chart with the European totals.
Sequence of rules: I would not want to change the order of the rules in CH 4. I think that CH 4.2 is even closer related to CH 4.1 than CH 4.3, because CH 4.2 gives us a hint on how to stick to identical scales: Size charts to given data. I would only apply scaling indicators (CH 4.3) if I failed in adapting the chart sizes (CH 4.2).