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This article was contributed by David Right, an SAP professional and consultant.

Organizations using the SAP Analytics Cloud solution to drive augmented planning often face numerous challenges when designing the ideal dashboard. This is usually because of rigid delivery deadlines and a long list of requirements. These needed essentials do not leave professionals with much time to conduct appropriate user research, making it challenging to determine if the dashboard is efficient, user-friendly, and compelling for the end-user. 

However, there are both simple and efficient ways to devise a beautiful and user-friendly SAP Analytics Cloud dashboard.

Five tips for a great dashboard

1. Group information into smaller groups

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People often find SAP Analytics Cloud dashboards with a cluttered portrayal of information. This can make it very challenging to make sense of any information featured on the dashboard. Apart from that, any sort of scattered information without any logical cluster, visual overloading, or even related information placed in different tabs can also clutter the dashboard. It can be very time-intensive and challenging for a dashboard user to navigate the information by gathering bits and pieces from different tabs and cluttered, illogical displays. 

One easy way to fix this issue is by grouping related information together and separating specific unrelated groups. Also, provide a logical and clear group header for relevant information. One can further create tabs to place information that do not require a cross-reference from other tabs or are not logically relevant. This is why users needs to ensure that a dashboard is easy to navigate and visually appealing. 

2. Use simple visualizations

Dashboards are all about conveying information to others, similar to telling a story using data. This is why it is important to ensure that the visuals are simple, as this will convey the information with far more clarity. One of many visualizations challenges users face is when they have to learn the type of the chart and inference the data succeeded by the illegibility of the tests caused due to the long labels. Hence, when both these things come together, the visualization can be completely impractical. 

This is why most experts recommend that one make necessary efforts to ensure that the labels are short and crisp. Other than that, it is always better to leverage the prevalent types of charts such as the line chart, bar chart, pie chart, and column charts to visualize data understandably.

3. Keep critical KPIs on the screen

It is no secret that the attention span of users is degrading by the day. Numbers suggest the attention span of an average user was twelve seconds in the year 2000. Unfortunately, that number is now down to just eight seconds. This means that all critical information has to be strategically positioned on the screen, as otherwise the information or data could be ignored or missed by the user.

There are many instances when someone might require an immediate response from a user, but somehow the user either ended up missing or ignoring the information. Therefore, it is always recommended to ensure the appropriate placement of data and information. A user must view the announcement at a single glance right after opening the SAP Analytics Cloud planning dashboard. (This also explains why different websites or even newspapers feature bold and big headlines, as it helps them grab the reader’s attention.)

4. Enable users to create their own versions

Most SAP Analytics Cloud dashboards are created by professionals in an IT department. This means that the dashboard will come with pre-configured labels, layouts, and even contents. While this approach is excellent for boosting efficiency, it can also make it challenging for the end-user to comprehend. 

Different users have different effective mental models to make sense of information; hence allowing users to create their own versions, or at least allowing them to make necessary customizations to suit their mental model, can be very beneficial. Enabling users to change the layout or alter the types of charts to suit their preference can further help relay information with far more effectiveness and efficiency. Therefore, feel free to allow the end-users to alter or customize the dashboard, but provide a reset button that will bring the dashboard to the default state. This will ensure seamless rectification of an error in case of unwanted user action.

5. Incorporate semantics or colors specific to the industry

Colors are fundamental when designing a dashboard in an ideal manner. Hence, it is essential to ensure that the colors are used appropriately because otherwise, it could create confusion or even distract the user. This will undoubtedly affect the efficacy of the dashboard.

Therefore, it is highly recommended to use colors that will draw users’ attention to important alerts, threshold transcends, and even for highlighting any sort of anomaly. However, refrain from using any bright or loud shades and colors to enhance the looks of the charts or even to complement the brand of the organization. Instead, use semantics and colors that are specific to the industry to visualize the state or status of the business data and draw attention wherever it is needed the most.

Final thoughts

Creating an interactive and captivating SAP Analytics Cloud dashboard can be very beneficial for properly conveying data and information. Therefore, make sure to leverage the tips mentioned above to create the ideal dashboard. In case of any further confusion, reach out to the experts at SAP implementation companies.

David Right is an SAP professional providing consulting services for SAP Analytics Cloud to his clients.

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