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Financial Reporting and Accounting Blog

More Financial Data Visualization Options

Adam Jacobson June 29,2015

After reading our latest posts on data visualization, Russ Davidson from www.findaccountingsoftware.com pointed me to a post on various kinds of visualizations by Adam Bluemner, 7 Alternatives to the Bar Graph and When to Use Them in BI Reporting, and asked for my comments. 

Bluemner gives a good overview. Indeed, I’m probably the audience for the post as I probably use bar charts and line charts excessively. That’s not necessarily bad—my customers are financial folks after all. Many are just getting started with visualization so it’s best to keep things simple.

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Tags: Data Visualization

Financial Data Visualization Key #3—Argue Against Yourself

Adam Jacobson June 24,2015

Having read so far in this series on financial data visualization, you’ve learned not to put too much data into your charts and to beware of false variances. So, you may have created some good data visualizations and hopefully sparked the interest of your users. They may even have started asking questions. But our job as business intelligence consultants isn’t done. Indeed, just when you think you’ve spotted a meaningful trend, you need to push further and ask—is this really as meaningful as it seems?

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Tags: Data Visualization

Financial Data Visualization Key #2—Beware of False Variances

Adam Jacobson June 19,2015

I hope after my previous post, Financial Data Visualization Key #1—One Chart Can't Tell the Whole Story, you’ll know better than to cram too much data into a single chart. But that’s not the only problem you’ll face.

Data Visualization Mistake #1—Choosing Incomparable Time Periods

The following is a true story. To protect the guilty, I’ve changed the scenario to hotel bookings, instead of what we were actually measuring.

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Tags: Data Visualization

Financial Data Visualization Key #1—One Chart Can't Tell the Whole Story

Adam Jacobson June 9,2015

As I mentioned in an earlier introductory blog post, as business intelligence consultants, our clients often ask us to go beyond numbers to create charts, graphs and other visualizations. Our clients recognize that sales folks and executives (and others outside of finance) do better with charts than pages of numbers.

As we work with our clients to create these visual tools, it becomes apparent that those who’re accustomed to creating reports struggle when it comes to designing charts. And here’s one reason why: They try to tell the whole story.

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Tags: Data Visualization

From Reports to Visuals: 4 Keys to Financial Data Visualization

Adam Jacobson May 21,2015

A friend commented on a recent LinkedIn update about our series of posts on cost effective business intelligence. His comment specifically pertained to Part 5—Think Reports First. He wrote:

Nice piece, Adam. But the visualization part is what gets everyone engaged....

That’s true, and I believe strongly a picture is worth a thousand numbers. But at the same time, to be cost effective, we still spend MOST of our time writing reports. Therefore, when choosing a tool, it’s best to start with “reports first.” And if you do want to “go visual,” you can start with the tools that come with SSRS or Excel.

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Tags: Business Intelligence ROI

Following up on Building a Sample Data Warehouse

Adam Jacobson May 19,2015

Some time ago, we wrote about building a simple data warehouse to replace Lawson’s HR170. As our experience grows, we’ve learned a few additional lessons we thought we should share:

1. For your initial build, start with your current data and role backwards

Recently, a client “remembered”—once we began testing—that they’d turned off the “create history” flag during initial conversion. Therefore, the simple “look at HRHISTORY’ logic wouldn’t work. We tried various workarounds and ended up with a very complex program, without the exact results we would have liked. So, in the future, we'll take the approach of “start with today" (which should be clean) and role backwards through time. When you lose a value, you can remove it from your database for that time period.

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Tags: Data Mart

SSRS vs. Crystal Comparison

Adam Jacobson May 18,2015

In reviewing our website, we found that this post was getting lots of hits. The problem is the information is no longer up to date and, therefore, not very useful.

Over the past several years, we’ve migrated our business more and more to supporting Microsoft Stack. While we still write comparison posts (e.g. PDF vs. Excel—Does a PDF Really Secure Your Data?), we spend most of our time creating content that relates to our current business focus.

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Tags: SSRS

Understanding the Lawson Database

Adam Jacobson May 18,2015

We recently migrated our blog. During the migration, we realized some of our older posts are still getting a bunch of traffic, even though the content is pretty old. We didn’t want folks to get a 404 error by removing the content entirely, so instead we’re replacing the original post with this one. You can download the original content here—Understanding the Lawson Database.

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Tags: Financial Reporting Software

Oracle EBS and SQL Server—A Match Not Made in Heaven

Adam Jacobson May 7,2015

I’ve written posts on unusual combinations of software that happen to work for certain companies (for example, see Can a Mid-Size Company Use QuickBooks?). But sometimes companies wind up with software combinations that don’t make sense.

Let me start by saying there’s nothing wrong with having multiple platforms for software. While in an ideal world you’d have a limited number of technologies to support, sometimes the cost of getting there is prohibitive. But sometimes the limiting factor isn’t cost—it’s lack of planning.

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Seven Keys to Cost Effective Business Intelligence: Part 7

Adam Jacobson May 5,2015

Use the Tools You Have

The best way to achieve return on investment is to minimize investment. And the best way to minimize investment is to use the tools you already have. Fundamentally, after years of work in this industry using multiple tools and platforms, we believe all the tools out there do the same basic things. Sure, each tool has strengths and weaknesses. But if you’ve already invested in one, it’s really hard to justify switching to another.

We understand our philosophy may disqualify us from your consideration. For example, you may have made a major investment in SAP BusinessObjects. We’ve worked with it in the past, and it’s certainly a powerful tool.  But unless you're migrating away from it, we’re not going to work with it.

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Tags: Business Intelligence ROI

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