Discover 10 Keys to a Successful Data Visualization Implementation

Jim Sun

A lot of companies in various industries are implementing visualization tools to enhance their BI system, and the reason is obvious; people prefer charts and bullets rather than meaningless tables and cubes, a well developed dashboard could help save a lot of time for the executives and CEOs to check the performance of their business in a short period of time. However, the implementation process could be a struggle. To measure whether a visualization platform is successfully implemented, one could consider the following 10 key factors:

  • Create Detailed Functional/Technical Specs and Get a Great Partner: there is nothing more important than creating the functional/technical specifications for the project, and you want to make it as detailed as possible at the beginning although changes and adjustments are still needed along with the implementation. Also, most of the time, you will need a partner to help you deal with not only the implementation but also project management and system integration.
  • Visualization Roadmap Strategy: as mentioned in our previous blogs, the most useful BI/visualization platform needs to satisfy the business needs and requirements of the company. Also, the whole project should be scheduled under an instructional roadmap to be followed. In the roadmap, there could be a check list that includes all the application features of this potential project, a whole picture of the data architecture and any other dependencies.
  • Technology Selection: as mentioned in our previous blogs, there are all kinds of products available, and companies should take lots of factors into consideration before deciding which technology to be used. In general, if you have sufficient budget and there will be a lot of users, then mature products are recommended. Or if your budget is limited but your users have strong data manipulation experience, then maybe you could move your eyes onto some evolving choices.
  • Report Access: as consultants or developers, it is our job to sit in front of a computer and work with those data sets and reports, not users'; so it is important to enable convenient access to the system and reports. Single sign-on and mobile device capability are 2 main examples of convenient system access features.
  • Well-defined Data Source: the performance of a well-developed BI/visualization system could be influenced by the data source and data connection configuration, also the computing engine on the back end can influence the performance. So when you are considering to invest a new visualization tool, make sure the raw data is well-organized.
  • Make it simple and agile: I know that theoretically some products can let you drill down 15 levels of data or slice and dice it in hundreds of ways. But before really doing that, please reconsider the reason for doing so. Technically, this point belongs to reporting phase not implementation, but still applies to the implementation phase. A lot of times I see people making the project to be over-complicated, it takes companies time and money to achieve those charming but barely used features.
  • Technical Support Resources: even for those well-developed visualization tools, such as SAP Lumira and Tableau, technical maintenance and support are always needed. Bugs and system failure may happen any time, and it is important for the client company to prepare remote or a on-site technical support team to help administer those risks.
  • Training: training is especially important when there are a lot of functional end-users. And of course, the robustness can also be important to this system, it depends on the user's learning curve though. If, lets say, your users are all managers having zero IT background, then it is necessary to set the robustness level higher to prevent possible damage from mis-operation by the users.
  • Security and Authority: a successful BI system also keeps complete security and authority level for the reports on it. Different internal users from different departments should have access to their specific functional area. And security should be set up especially for mobile apps to prevent putting secret business information on street.
  • Visual Appeal & Excitement: although the top priority of visualization tools in most businesses is not just to be good-looking, it is still necessary to make sure the user interface is clean and tidy---or even appealing. according to our experience, a good-looking interface can accelerate the learning curve in end-user training, as well as provide a longer service life. As far as I know, some companies are still using BOBJ 6.5 system (published around 2003) as an internal reporting platform for its succinct and friendly interface.

Data Visualization and Analytics

Image courtesy of Creative Commons

Visualization tools help companies to save time and money, although it takes a lot of effort to implement it and make it work. To learn more about tips to implement a BI system, please click the button below. Or if you have any specific questions or project consulting requirement, please contact us.