INFO GRAPHICS WITH EXCEL

I’m not always the biggest fan of info graphics. Many of the posters-sized info graphics released these days have issues. But lately I’ve also received several requests on how to do info graphics with Excel. Many people don’t know where to start.

How Info Graphics are Different
Info graphics differ somewhat from your usual dashboard-style reporting. When we report with business tools, we use the data points–charts, tables, etc–to investigate a problem or monitor a system. That is, we use data to find results. Info graphics are used when we already know the results and we want to present it in an interesting, sometimes even artistic, way. Info graphics, then, are more about style and appearance–they wouldn’t necessarily find a good home on a dashboard. But they do work well in magazines, newspapers, and some student projects.

Info Graphics and Excel
Many info graphics are made with graphic editing programs like Adobe Illustrator. As far as I know, these illustrations are static. So each change in the underlying data won’t be automatically updated in the graphic. You would just have to redraw the graphic. Excel provides a benefit here: if we use Excel’s charts to make our info graphics, we can update the underlying data and the result appears automatically.

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2015 New Year’s Resolutions for the Supply Chain Industry

2015 New Year’s Resolutions for the Supply Chain Industry

Resolution #1 – Stop using the term VISIBILITY

People say that information is power. I beg to differ. I say, an informed decision is power. The visibility term has been over used. I’ve even heard some say that getting visibility to your supply chain is 80% of the challenge. They must not have run a supply chain. I see many supply chain leaders that have visibility, some in excel and some in automated tools. The ones that don’t have visibility can easily call the supplier and get it. Getting visibility isn’t the challenge. The real 80% challenge is “what are you doing with the visibility?”

Resolution #2 – Read only ONE “Cool Theme” report

In 2015, I resolve to read only one Cool Theme report. I’m tired of research analysts peddling these themes as a means to gain an edge on readership. Yet, I watch the audience during some of these Cool Theme presentations. And, half the people are on their smartphone working core issues back home, while the Analyst is talking about how supply chains should save the Panamanian golden frog, reduce the ozone layer, produce products with plastic wire from 3D printers and generate forecasts from Facebook posts!

Resolution #3 – Stop moaning about Bad Data

Let’s face it, everyone has some form of bad data. And, when you include all your tiered suppliers, they have bad data. The one constant is that you will never fix all the internal and external bad data. Yet, I still hear supply chain leaders say they need to focus first on fixing the data. I’ve seen many presentations from “Top 25” supply chains and how they’ve cleaned data, and why they should be considered a top tier supply chain story.

Resolution #4 – Fix the Disruption you can influence, not the Disruption you are concerned with

There are two types of disruptions. That which you are concerned with, and that which you can influence.

Volatility, regulation, geopolitics, economics, energy, and the list goes on. These are in your Circle of Concern. They happen, and you should be concerned. Yet, many supply chain leaders face fail to focus on the Circle of Influence, the area where you can make a difference.

Resolution #5 – Scrap the Talent Research, Make Planners more Productive

After reading all the Talent Research done in 2014, the topics of attrition, retiring professionals, and university-business alignment, I notice a big gap. The one thing missing in all this Supply Chain Talent research is the concept of being more productive with the talent you already have.

How can every supply chain improve productivity? In every supply chain I’ve seen in my past 25 years, there’s one constant – they all use some form of Excel – mostly to search for exceptions. Planners spend half their day dumping ERP and BI data into Excel, and then search for exceptions.

What are your resolutions? Share with us by leaving comments or contact us for a discussion.

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