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Producing graphical KPI's etc

Producing graphical KPI's etc

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I have decided the future of accountancy is orange, pink, purple and green.

For far too long I have presented management accounts to people that are just lots of numbers. 50% of my audience understands the numbers and the other 50% is just trying to get an idea of net profit ytd and slings them in a drawer. What might excite some of these people is a graphical representation of some meaningful KPI's just for their business.

I have been wasting long hours looking at business information systems. Many of these charge the odd $10,000 a year for using their software and that is a tad too expensive for my business. It is clear the big businesses are heavily involved in the use of these systems.

I have tried using some of the cheaper offerings, at 50$ a month - definitely doable as a cost for me. The problem has been that I just couldn't be bothered to heft through their tedious notes to get to the graphics. It has also become clear that before representing any info graphically there needs to be a dedicated input sheet designed specifically for downloading. My Excel knowledge is not great and I never bothered with graphs etc up to now.

Next month I am undertaking a one day course on "pivot tables and dashboards made easy" that should improve my knowledge of Excel. I even hope to be able to start producing some graphics from it, but only if I don't get bored by all the tedious stuff.

Are there any experienced management accountants out there who have used graphical representations for smaller clients? Can I get away with something cheerfully coloured from Excel? Should I pay a developer to write something generic for me? (Cheap as chips on Elance if only one knew what one wanted).

It would be so helpful to know of your own experiences in this area-once you'd had your Easter Egg, of course!

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By 3569787
03rd May 2016 16:35

There are systems that do this

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By WhichTyler
18th Apr 2014 13:44

Homework

I suggest you have a look at Jon Moon's book 'Impact' (www.jmoon.co.uk) and treat yourself to Edward Tufte's classic 'Visual Display of Quantitative Information' (www.edwardtufte.com) to understand some of the principles of good information design

 

 

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By paulwakefield1
18th Apr 2014 09:27

In addition

Stephen Few's books.

But it is certainly possible to present lots of graphical data via Excel. In fact it's great for it. Just keep the presentation simple.

There is lots of guidance and advice out there. Search on this site for articles by Simon Hurst and David Carter. For a paid for online course on Dashboards, perhaps to back up the one you are attending, I can recommend My Online Training Hub's Excel dashboard course (thanks to Glen Feechan for putting me onto that). They also have a free ebook on chart design here:

http://trainingworkingfiles.s3.amazonaws.com/dashboards/30_chart_tips.pdf

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By Moonbeam
18th Apr 2014 20:31

Thank you All

I have looked at Amazon's site last night and noted that both Stephen Few and Edward Tufte are experts in the best way to represent information. All their books did look rather heavy weight for me.

Paul and WhichTyler say Excel is the way to go on this, so I am relieved I would not be wasting my time by getting some more tuition. I have already ordered a "simple" book on dashboard design in Excel "Excel Dashboards & Reports (Mr. Spreadsheet's Bookshelf) " which may be too simple but I hope will prime me before the course.

I will have a look at the other books/ links you have given me.

Thank you for giving me the courage to push on with this project. I want to get a greater understanding of how to set up data at the very least so that if I have to ask someone else to program the graphics at least I will understand what they are doing.

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By 3569787
03rd May 2016 16:35

Technology and business objectives

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By Moonbeam
19th Apr 2014 11:55

Amazingly...

@3569787 I had already understood about getting the right KPI's in place and importance of choosing the right graphics.

My posting enquired about the best way to produce graphics. If I had needed help with KPI's you can rest assured I would have asked.

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By Charlie Carne
01st May 2014 12:58

Crunchboards

Check out Crunchboards which does exactly what you are looking for. It provides graphical KPI's linked to your accounting data in QuickBooks or Xero.

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By FC2013
01st May 2014 13:13

Pivot Tables

 

I have been using pivot tables for years and they are the single most useful reporting tool there is out there, without getting involved with complex SQL data bases and reporting systems. 

I have used these to communicate complex data on many subjects over the years and I can't rate them highly enough. 

There is a superb book out there "Pivot table data crunching".  Get a copy and work through it.  Some of the logic seems a bit counter intuitive initally but once you get to grips with them you will wonder how you got on without them.

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By Rick Deckard
01st May 2014 15:58

It depends

In the past I have worked with systems which can dump a lot of info into Excel directly, I then created an interim sheet which sorted out the data dump (adding some of the dump cells together for instance) into something more useable, and then basing graphs from this sheet.

Once saved the only thing that changed each run was the data dump, making it very easy to use.

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By Excelcrafter
04th May 2014 23:03

Prototype in Excel

I concur with FC2013 and Rick Deckard. Excel offers a great deal of functionality in this arena and a great way to dump a lot of data into Excel (to use Rick's words) is to dump it into Power Pivot, from which you can build PivotTables, cube formula reports, and Power View reports. There is a bit of a learning curve and that's where I highly recommend Simon Hurst's tutorials. I consider myself somewhat Excel savvy but have learned a lot from Simon. And if you end up going with another visualisation tool, Excel is a good place to prototype your initial designs.

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