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Amplify Business Intelligence Visuals with Informer

Posted by Timothy Burns on April 12, 2022

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A favorite song is structured to be both instantly recognizable and memorable. It’s written with a predefined structure that is thought out to capture the listeners attention and invoke an emotion. There are several standard ways in which a song is written and some basic rules song writers “should follow” when it comes to writing the song.  

The same can be said to developing business intelligence visuals for project-based firms. A business analyst, like a songwriter, must decide on the different visuals that will come together to create a melody to allow firm leaders to make decisive, but critical decisions. The visuals must grab the attention quickly and be easily understood to the audience. 

This article breaks down how to the Blackbox Connector for Informer amplifies the firm’s Deltek Vantagepoint data to make memorable melody. 

Understanding the Business Intelligence Visual Structure

The basic parts of a song include the intro, verse, pre-chorus/lift, bridge, break, and outro. Let’s compare that to creating a business intelligence dashboard using Informer.  

The intro is self-explanatory – it’s the intro the song or the very first visual on the dashboard. And, it’s one of the most important parts. Typically, it’s the very top left corner visual. This is where the most important statistic or data should be displayed.  

The verse gives the listener (or the viewer in our case) the idea of what the song is about. It typically sets the tone or topic of the entire dashboard.  

The pre-chorus/lift can build anticipation. In a song this includes increasing the volume or rhythm or pulling back and creating silence. When building the business intelligence visual stack, it can be the visuals that keep viewers scrolling through or keep them on the page.  

The chorus is often the most memorable melody of the song. It usually repeats itself throughout the entire song. And, just like in a song, it can repeat the same visuals but maybe for different regions or offices. For example, the dashboard may have several charts that show utilization rates by office with different separate visuals scattered throughout for each region of offices. Think about that one main theme of the dashboard – utilization rate, hit rate, profit, sales target – whatever the theme for that dashboard and make sure it’s repeated in a way that makes sense to make it memorable. 

A break is usually an instrumental part of the song that allows for some breathing room. When creating business intelligence visuals, make sure there is ample white space or breathing room between each individual chart or graph. This gives the audience that break before consuming the next information. 

A good song has an outro – the end of the song. The outro closes out the song just like the business intelligence dashboard needs to close out.

Putting the Structure Together   

Understanding the basic structure of a song (or business intelligence dashboard) is just the first step. Next is to understand how each part works together to create different melodies. Below are some common song structures in modern music and how you can think about these when designing dashboards using Informer.  

Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus  

This is probably the most common song structure in today’s music, especially in pop music. And, it’s a great way to begin with designing the BI dashboards.  

Examples of some songs using this structure include: 

  • “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple 
  • “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles 
  • “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix 

Informer visuals using this structure can include visuals showing the following: 

  • Total potential revenue in the pipeline 
  • Opportunity count by office 
  • Total revenue won YTD 
  • Opportunity dollar about by stage 

An example Informer visual using this structure is shown below. 

 

Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus   

Songs that use this structure often get stuck in your head and therefore become popular. The bridge helps add a surprise or variance breaking up the repetitiveness of the song. Using this structure when designing the business intelligence dashboards can add a new angle or different theme while supporting the main goal or theme.  

Examples of songs using this structure include: 

  • “Happy” by Pharrell 
  • “Every Breath You Take” by the Police 
  • “Fix You” by Coldplay
 

Taking the example from above, the bridge added could be: 

  • Total potential revenue in the pipeline 
  • Opportunity count by office 
  • Total revenue won YTD 
  • Top 10 largest clients by YTD revenue 
  • Opportunity dollar about by stage

By adding the top 10 largest clients, the viewer can get a sense of what clients the firm should be focused on, which stays with the theme of the overall visual – business development. But that specific chart is revenue earned not expected revenue or sales won. It’s a different angle of information but still very helpful to the business development team. 

An example Informer visual using this structure is shown below. 

Create Visuals Easily with Informer Discover Tool 

Informer is a business intelligence tool that uses the Blackbox Connector to connect to Deltek Vision or Vantagepoint and create a standard set of datasets. Using the Blackbox Connector with Informer allows the team to start building visuals right away instead of spending a lot of time building datasets and programming visuals.  

Once the data is connected, go to a dataset and select the Discover Tool. Then choose a field, in this example Project Summary is selected. The Discover Tool instantly recommends visuals based on the data selected. The tool recommends visuals based on the fields and columns selected and changes the recommendations as you select more or less options. 

Each recommended visual can then be adjusted or further designed based on the needs. It can then be saved to be used later to create dashboards (called Reports in Informer).   

Tips for Choosing the Right Visual Structure 

Knowing the structure and different visual types while using the Informer Discover tool to make the visuals easily, how do you decide what visuals to display for firm leaders? The dashboard should not just be pretty, but also functional. It’s helping firm leaders make critical decisions, after all. Below are a few tips to choose the right visual structure. 

  • Understand the audience – Knowing who will be using this dashboard to make decisions will help determine the key metrics to display. What information does the audience need to be successful? Keep in mind that the visuals are just an overview and the audience can drill down into the data, if desired. 
  • Stick to one main theme – It doesn’t make sense to throw in a chorus of playing ball in a country song about losing ‘the girl.’ So don’t mix in too many different types of data that don’t support the main theme. It’s okay to create multiple dashboards and tools like Deltek Vantagepoint and Informer allow users to quickly access different dashboards, if needed. 
  • Incorporate different visual types – Sticking to one main theme, doesn’t mean using the same visual. Create a visual story by choosing different types of charts, graphs, and tables. Just be careful to select the visual that matches the data type. The Informer Discover Tool does this easily by recommending the visual types for the data selected. 
  • Use color wisely – Every color can tell a story. Don’t use too many colors to distract viewers. Instead use color to show differences or areas to the viewer should focus. Using red for negative, green for positive, and grays to show values is a great way to use color wisely.  
  • Keep it simple – Because the Informer Discover Tool makes it easy to create different types of visuals for any type of Vantagepoint data, it might be tempting to add it all to a dashboard. It’s very important to keep in mind the end-user or audience that is using the visuals to make decisions. Keep the most important visuals in the top left corner. If the viewers are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of visual stimulation or there’s too many clicks to drill down to data, it won’t be valuable to them.  

Write the Firm's "Greatest Hit" with Blackbox Connector for Informer  

Knowing all the parts and possible structures of songs and business intelligence visuals is a first step to writing that greatest hit for the firm. Remember that the point of providing BI visuals to firm decision-makers is to make all the firm’s data understandable and therefore, becoming actionable based on the information presented.  

To see the Informer Discover Tool in action click the image below to access a mini-demo.

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Business Intelligence Users Can Visualize More with Entrinsik Informer 5.4

Posted by Timothy Burns on August 04, 2021

Seeing is believing, and with Entrinsik Informer, many different types of professional services firms already have the ability to quickly visualize and analyze data to make informed business decisions. Informer, a highly ranked business intelligence (BI) solution, allows users firmwide to create customized dashboards and easily drill down into the data pertaining to their specific department and role to find the answers to questions or get status reports on areas of concern.

Informer BI logo

So much insight can be gained already using Informer. However, with the latest release of Entrinsik Informer 5.4, employees at professional services firms now have new and improved features to improve data visualization.

Enhancements with Informer Template Creation

Templates are an exciting new feature in Informer 5.4. Templates are custom formatted outputs using HTML coding. This allows total pixel-perfect control over the end product. The template code is in HTML, but being an HTML expert is not required. Many users of the Informer business intelligence tool have little or no HTML experience when they first start. Some even creating a template in less than a day.

Using the data that resides in a firm’s Deltek Vision or Vantagepoint system, firm employees are able to customize the final output into almost any format. The first step is to get the data organized into datasets so that it is easily available for the template. Then it is simply creating the template in the format the user wants.

Within the template, logical formulas can be applied. For example, if the invoice on an accounts receivable (AR) statement is past due, it can be shown in yellow highlight, or if survey is checked in an opportunity, specific survey language can be inserted into the agreement that is being sent to the client.

Additionally, users will be able to create a CSS (Cascading Styles Sheet) for templates to standardize the firm’s output and have logos readily available. Even more, there is also a way to save those commonly used expressions, so it is not necessary to retype every time.

Some of the uses for the templated output are:

  • Client Agreements
  • Compensation Reports
  • Financial Reports
  • Project Status for Clients
  • AR Statements
  • Custom Invoices
  • Governmental Reporting (DOT reports)

Once a templated output is set up, it is repeatable and can be shared firm-wide with the appropriate staff.

New Ways to Look at Data

Informer 5.4 also offers different ways to visualize data. Within the Informer 5.4 visuals tab, new visualization charts are available, heat maps and spider charts, which allow fresh perspectives to analyze important data.

A heat map is a graphical representation of data where values are guided by color accent with the deeper the shade, the higher the value. Heat maps are a great way to see concentrations in the data and are really useful if there is a lot of data to manage. In this example, at first glance, the color variations easily indicate the different values and can guide evaluation.

Informer heat map chart example

A spider chart, by comparison, is a helpful way of showing outliers. For example, a spider chart may show employees with the highest or lowest utilization. By viewing the chart, it is apparent that Mary Best is exceeding her utilization target, while Michelle Beien, Moshen Farsi, Leia Skywalker and Geoff Smith are not.

Informer spider chart example

See More than Before with Informer 5.4

The Entrinsik Informer 5.4 release was developed to improve how users can take their BI further and visualize their data so that better and quicker decisions can be made. With this newest release, users of Informer across the firm will have even better options for visualizing their data. And, going into the future, as BI needs continue to evolve so will Entrinsik Informer to meet them.

Webinar: Informer - BI

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