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Management accounting analyzes, plans and informs. This requires a reliable database, but also flexibility in designing reports, presentations and dashboards. These requirements often can´t be combined in a software system. The discussion about the authorization of local reporting solutions, that complement central standard systems, is currently up-to-date. The article reports from practice and conveys the advantages and disadvantages of local solutions.

Central versus local reports

When I wrote ‘local report solutions’, I could already hear the prompt “think big or go home”. It seems that the management accounting is focusing on big data and the big BI solution. But what is the true situation? What experiences we make in our projects?

The utopia of the one system into which all the data flows and from which rapidly different reports can be generated to steer the entire enterprise, is the driving force of many positive, important developments. But the resource expenditure behind this idea ist enormous. This type of reporting is made practical by a high degree of standardization and continuity. Data collection and storage benefits from the general conditions.

However, the reports and presentations that provide centralized systems are limited by these conditions. They are not very variable and can only help partially in answering non-standardized questions.

Automated, local reporting tools can overcome these communication hurdles.

Therefore they are a flexible and cost-effective alternative. From our projects we know that a mix of central and local reporting solutions is the best course of action.

The local solution isn´t so local

At this point it is important to split the management accounting IT. The topics of data collection and storage are to be separated from the communication of the results, the reporting. Collecting data in isolated applications must be called into question for many reasons. Each BI vendor can name these reasons. However, automated local tools solve many issues when creating reports and presentations.

Strictly speaking, local reporting tools are hybrids. The data they access is usually from centralized systems. The reporting is done in front-end tools that are individually designed and managed locally. The distribution of reports can also be automated and is not particularly limited.

Sind lokale Reporting-Lösungen sinnvoll? Blogbeitrag auf

The right time for individual reporting tools

Use custom reporting tools when management often needs to change report variants. They make sense if structured data from the DataWarehouse are to be supplemented with unstructured, individual comments and explanations.

In strategic management, variable reporting and presentation tools make sense in every case. But operational management also raises questions that can only partially be answered by centralized reports.

Resource requirements

There is a catch. As a rule, locally generated reports can´t created quickly. The efficient creation of local reporting tools usually requires a very long learning period.

The design and planning process requires fewer reconciliations and compromises between the report creator and the report recipient. That’s positive. The technical and creative implementation requires a lot of know-how. Specialized knowledge is needed that has little to do with management accounting in a business sense.

Knowledge of the data connection, automation and programming are essential. If the visual presentation and presentation should be efficient and at high quality standards, an above-average user knowledge is necessary.

An idea, if own resources are missing

But even without a resource pool of its own, the advantages of local reporting tools are easy to exploit. The development of such tools is an individual service for which there are different solution providers on the market. These are not software providers, but experienced service providers with special management accounting know-how and relevant experience in the field of reporting.

Good service providers provide a very high quality standard that meets your individual conceptual and technical requirements.

They work directly with the specialist departments in manageable project periods and deliver immediately ready-to-use solutions.

chartisan is one of these solution providers. Our focus is the Management Information Design with IBCS® and the technical implementation with the possibilities of Microsoft Office (Excel, PowerPivot, Power Query, PowerPoint) and Power BI.

Advantages and disadvantages at a glance

You have little time? Therefore is here a clear plus-minus list:

+ Local reporting tools allow variable reporting and presentations.

+ These reporting tools can efficiently display structured and unstructured data.

+ Local reporting tools are ready for use in short time.

+ Through the high degree of automation, the tools support the operative controlling routine.

+ You can buy suitable solutions externally as a targeted supplement to the standard systems.


– Through internal development you tie up important resources, time and financially.

– When using external service providers, you buy foreign competences.

– External service also costs money.


Are there any questions left? Need a hint? You are welcome to leave a comment here or to contact me confidentially by e-mail.

Happy reporting,
Yours Silja Wolff


Data visualization in general means to bring abstract data and relationships into a visually comprehensible form. So far so good. But what are the unfamiliar forms of representation? When do I apply this? When are other forms more meaningful? I would like to introduce the project of Severino Ribecca to all those who ask these questions more often:


This online catalog is a library of various information visualization types. Initially, the project Ribecca served to expand its own knowledge through data visualization and as a tool for one’s own work.

He himself writes about the project: “However, I would like to know how it is. Although there is no such thing as a visualization method, it is not the only way to make sense.

And, fortunately, Severino Ribecca does not hide the knowledge, right on the home page is in the middle:


In addition to the first overview, the “Search by Function” option is particularly appealing to practitioners. Here again, the initiator relies on a fast-to-capture image language:

As soon as you click on an icon, you get a well researched and edited knowledge about the selected visualization type. Each display form is displayed with its functionality and application possibilities and is visualized with dummy data. At the lower end of the description, the reader also finds references to similar display forms:

So there are a maximum of three well-structured clicks up to the knowledge about individual visualization forms. I find this project visually very successful and meaningful. Perhaps this tip gives you some inspiration for your information visualization?


In any case, I wish you Happy Reporting 🙂

Yours, Silja Wolff





The origin of portfolios is in finance and describes a planning method of compiling a package of security papers (security holdings) dependent on to the criteria of return and risk. Later, this method has been applied to other areas in the 70ies. Since that time the portfolio analysis has been modified in many cases and is one of today´s widespread analysis and planning instruments of strategic management.  The main idea of each portfolio is the segmentation and evaluation of data volume.


Basics of illustration

Most portfolios are illustrated two- or tree-dimensional. With three-dimensional illustrations the point size  is the third value perspective next to the axes. You hardly see four-dimensional portfolios. Here the bubbles are segmented as circular chart next to their value based figure.

Basic requirements to all illustrations is, as always, the efficient legibility. This is manageable due to a fast visual comprehension to evaluate data by colouring of bubbles or using diverse symbols. Also marked segmentation criteria, such as lines, will support comprehension.


Scaling and value intervals


Other than the typical bar and variation diagrams the scales do not have to start necessarily with zero.

A deliberate choice of value interval is necessary, if the segmentation should be demonstrated reasonably.

In this context reasonable means all points are visible and do not waste space/room.

The more frequently a portfolio with diverse data sets is used, the more important is the deliberate choice of the scale. Note: often times a change of the software automation is necessary, as automated portfolio axes always start with zero in Excel. This is less beneficial if all of your data is between the value of 350 and 480.



Ledgends and captions

A special attention should be placed on the topic legends and captions. Mark/write directly at the relevant diagram components. That will increase the legibility immediately. Should you make the decision of using a three-dimensional portfolio, the value has to be written directly at the bubble as there is no scale for it.

Strategic management is unimaginable without portfolios. Every evaluation, every portfolio approach consists of strengths and weaknesses. But irrespective of the type and structure of each portfolio, the visualisation is key for a beneficial usage of this analysis tool. The mentioned universal criteria above are a good frame for portfolio illustrations.



Opinions, trends and behaviours – the interest in surveys is growing steadily. Numerous evaluation results are prepared and presented daily. Diverse ways of visualising the results are available, still some essential basics should be considered.

Good to know: Survey results are most interesting when the reader can quickly draw comparisons.

When executing the primary demands, mostly some classic mistakes are made which can be easily avoided.

  • Use vertical axes for visualising survey results. These are legibly especially when your readers should be able to draw comparisons. (In addition you will reduce your space challenges as when you choose horizontal axes and are forced to maybe use turned captions.)
Negativbeispiel Umfragen mit horizontaler Achse darstellen
  • Label relevant information directly with the diagram and not in “far-off” legends. This is how you allow your viewer to concentrate on the content of your survey.
Negativbeispiel Umfragen darstellen

Make the handling of your survey easier for your reader by differentiating between survey results with and without multiple answers/choices in your illustration:


Servey results without multiple answers

All questions of which the answer adds up to 100% are part hereunder. Those are for example simple yes and no questions or either or questions as well. With regards to content this relation is important, so visualise it.

Antworten ohne Mehrfachnennung darstellen


Survey results with multiple choices

With many surveys multiple choices are given. Here the adding to 100% is not of relevance. The visualisation of results should be able to illustrate that easily and concentrate on a quick comparison of results.

Umfragen gut präsentieren


Beautiful new world of infographic

The presentation of survey results is often equated with the design of infographics. Those graphics are optically interesting, create attention and are easily shared on social media channels. (Believing the marketing of many tool provider, good infographics are designed pretty easily.)

A closer look at several infographics, the information density is either little (see example below). Or complex data are drowned in a graphical “wanting too much”.

Negativbeispiel Tortendiagramm


Without a doubt infographics offer great chances for the visualisation of your survey results. Before that it is necessary to know your target group and choose with visual judgement which correlations are so relevant that they need to be visualised. There is only one rule of thumb for visualising – see above – “The reader wants to be able drawing quick comparisons.”



Ein kleiner Projekt-Einblick in ein übersichtlich aufgebautes Sales Dashboard. Durch die Realisierung in Excel, ohne etwaige Plugins oder VBA-Programmierung, lässt es sich komplikationslos von jedem Office-Anwender nutzen und verteilen. Die Datenaufbereitung basiert in diesem Beispiel auf Pivot-Tabellen. Eine Datenbank-Anbindung ist problemlos möglich. Das ist keine Zauberei oder ewige Tüftelei. Versprochen! Wenn Sie unsere Lösung interessiert, […]

Während Few, Tufte, Cairo, Ware und viele andere vor allem effektive Visualisierung beschreiben und sich mit der Funktionsweise von Diagrammen, Charts und Infografiken auseinandersetzen, wählt Simon einen anderen Weg. In seinem Buch geht es um den Nutzen von Datenvisualisierungen für Unternehmen. Er erläutert, wie und warum eine wachsende Anzahl von Organisationen Visualisierungen von Small- und Big Data betriebswirtschaftlich nutzt.

Mit vielen Querverweisen, interessanten Links nähert sich Phil Simon in drei Teilen dem Thema. Im ersten Teil liefert der Autor Hintergrundwissen, Informationen zum heutigen Stand der Datenvisualisierung. Er geht ein auf die verfügbaren Kategorien von DataViz-Anwendungen und Diensten. Kurz wird auch das Thema berührt, wie technik- und datenversierte Mitarbeiter die Arbeitswelt verändern.

Mit Fallbeispielen untermauert Simon seine Idee der visuellen Organisation in Teil 2 des Buches konkreter. Hier benennt er Werkzeuge zur Datenanalyse und Visualisierung. Er zeigt den Unterschied auf zwischen traditioneller IT-Struktur und den Herausforderungen einer visuellen Organisation. Es geht ihm nicht um einen kompletten Umbruch vorhandener Strukturen, sondern um eine sinnvolle Weiterentwicklung, die sich aus der Einbeziehung wachsender Datenmengen ergibt.

Von der Metaebene aus betrachtet der Autor im dritten Teil verschiedene Entwicklungsstufen einer visuellen Organisation. Er stellt Schlüsselfragen, gibt Hinweise zu Best-Practice-Beispielen und räumt mit weit verbreiteten Mythen auf. In diesem Teil des Buches kommt die Praxiserfahrung von Phil Simon als Berater und ausgezeichneter Autor mehrerer Management-Bücher besonders zum Tragen. Viele Argumente und Mythen, die er aufgreift und beantwortet, sind dem am Thema interessierten Leser sicher schon begegnet. Mit einem Ausblick auf aktuelle Trends schließt dieses Buch.


Das Buch ist unterhaltsam und flüssig geschrieben. Viele Querverweise, interessante Linktipps und Hinweise zu kostenfreien und kostenpflichtigen Tools liefern eher Denkanstöße und Entertainment, denn „abzuarbeitende Fachlektüre“. Aus meiner Sicht ist es als Einstieg in das Thema betriebswirtschaftlicher Nutzung von Daten interessant. Hier werden Möglichkeiten aufgezeigt und der Blick für das Potential des Themas geschärft.

Leser, denen das Potential welches im Thema Datenvisualisierung steckt, klar ist, geht das Buch eventuell nicht genug ins Detail. Wichtige Fragen zur Datenherkunft, Erschließung neuer Datenquellen bleiben unbeantwortet. Die Praxisbeispiele beziehen sich auf IT- bzw. Online-Unternehmen, wo klarerweise viele Daten anfallen und die effiziente Einbeziehung der Kundensicht eine elementare Rolle spielt. Die Frage nach der Relevanz für traditionelle Branchen bleibt relativ unbeantwortet. Ebenso fehlen Handlungsanleitungen zur konkreten Organisationsentwicklung.

Wie schon im ersten Absatz des Fazits geschrieben, das Buch liefert viele Fragen und Denkanstöße. Von daher lohnt sich aus meiner Sicht ein Blick in das Buch. Denn „in a world of Big Data, data visualization serves as an indispensable tool. Along with human judgment, it is perhaps the most valuable means of comprehension.”

 Für Interessierte

Titel The visual organization
Untertitel data visualization, big data, and the quest for better decisions
Herausgeber Phil Simon
Auflage erschienen Dezember 2013 (erhältlich in englischer Sprache)
Seiten 202
Verlag John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey
Preis 40,69 € (Print)
ISBN Print: 978-1-118-79438-8 (Hardcover); E-Book: 978-1-118-85841-7


Wer mehr von dem Autor lesen möchte: