Breaking down information silos – Part 1

This was previously posted on our blogspot and has been migrated to this blog.  Enjoy! – The Vorsite Team
 
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What do you do when the customer gives you a couple of Excel Spreadsheets and you are asked to “expose the data” in SharePoint using PerformancePoint? Make things happen!

Previously Posted by Pui Chee Chan

As a Program Manager at Vorsite Corp., I was recently asked to run this project. I pretty much walked away from the initial internal project briefing wondering how to translate “make it pretty”; “wow me!” etc. into user requirements. But, it’s my job to scope the requirements and see structure in “chaos” – should be a walk in the park, right?

Here are the facts:
– Two Excel Spreadsheets containing data pulled from different data source. Several hidden worksheets with columns performing vlookup/complex if-else statements to derive values for use in multiple pivot tables representing the data in different views

So, what’s the problem with using the Excel spreadsheets?

I like to approach problem using a scenario. So, picture this:

You are a new hire in the Marketing group. As a Business Unit Manager, You are responsible to track budget spend and keep management informed of how you spend the money. Because of the nature of the business, you have to collaborate with several other business units/external vendors to run a full marketing campaign. As a result, you distribute your budget among several individuals. So, you have a group of people who commit to spending X amount of your money but you have no visibility to the actual amount until the invoices go through the financial systems. You quickly realize that you need to look at multiple systems to follow the money trail. The monthly meeting is tomorrow – where do you look? Jim, your analyst, said the latest Excel reports are stored in the shared network drive – access is open to all – can you trust the data? Where do you start? Over 10 campaigns and it’s already 2 in the morning. Do you even need to be concerned at all? Or maybe you can simply pray that forecast always equal actual in real life.

Don’t take me wrong. I love Excel. And I marvel at the complexity of these two reports. I just think that it should be easier when you need more information. Plus, nothing prevents me from tweaking the figures to my advantage. If everybody brings a different copy of the report to the meeting, how can decision makers gain true insights into business performance?

If I got you hooked so far – stay tuned for more…

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