Comments archive

The pages of this comments archive list all public comments on the latest version of the IBCS® Standards in chronological order.

Ronald van Lent

As figure UN 3.2 only gives a visual about the situation of the reference. There is no table visualisation in case of a time series (non reference scenario). 

Ìn addition to the new figure UN 3.2 and the comments of the workgroup, I would suggest that the next 3 figures: actual, planned and forecasted scenarios should be aligned as well by changing the table parts to be consistent. So with the actual scenario the table has headers 2015, 2016, 2017 (solid headers and no mixing with other scenarios).


Small remark to figure UN3.2. I assume that it is due to the poor quality. But it currently looks like the PL and FC in the table headers look solid (though in the bar FC is clearly hatched)

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Rolf Hichert

As Raphael, Beat, and others have already said: Figure UN 3.2 should be updated.

These are the pitfalls:

The actual Standards suggest the use of gray only when we use previous periods as a reference; previous periods not being a reference scenario should be solid dark which is the general notation for actual. (This should have been already corrected when we changed this rule in version 1.1).
In general, when looking at the annual figures of 2017 we probably would not use the forecasted (hatched) values as a reference for the actual (dark) values but rather compare the actual values with the plan and or with the previous year.
Left side of UN 3.2: We should never use more than one category for one year.

In the suggested solution for a new figure UN 3.2 we present a more typical setup: We compare the actual figures of Q3 and the forecasted figures of Q4 with the respective plan values.

In addition, we have added the previous year comparison for Q3 by showing the gray PY triangle (as we should not use more than two overlapped columns).

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Interesting Idea but I do see major flaw. We usually use units to save width. If we use your proposed alignment we  maybe run into space issues.

Never the less I will present your proposal to some “manager and accountants” and ask them what they think.

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Hi Roland,

In German speaking countries Ø means  mean and this symbol is widely used in business reports (as far as I can tell).

Is there a internationaly used alternative for Ø in buinsess reports? If so we should check it.  But symbols used in math and statistics are not allways the best soultion because they are not allways intuitive for ‘business people’ hence not accepted.



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Ronald van Lent

With the increasing growth and importance of data science within organisations and to provide a better link between statistics and reports, would it not be better to adopt international notation standards from statistics/mathematics into the IBCS standard notation instead of determining “own” symbol sets, which in fact have a complete different meaning.

For example: Ø means either empty set, or is used to distinguish between a “O” and a zero. Or in engineering it means diameter.

x̅ (x bar) or μ (mu) is being used instead (where x bar is sample statistics and mu population parameter).


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Ronald van Lent

Problem: The graph is showing the impact of inflation. But also deflation is possible. And in case of deflation the blue impact bar is overlaying the actual column/value.

Suggestion for improvement: I foresee 2 options

a) make the impact bars smaller (half the width of the actual column)

b) right shift the impact a little so no 100% overlap occurs

I would favour option a) as this is also in line when showing a variance up/on a column.

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Isn’t this rule a little bit contrary to rule CH 2.1 (avoid clipped bars) ?

Are there some criteria we could use in order to know whether we should clip a bar or not ?
(Maybe ‘importance’ is to fuzzy to be the single criteria.)

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Suggestion regarding alignment of numbers in tables:

Traditionally numbers in tables ares shown right aligned, like in the following part of a table.


In this example the bigger numbers occupy more space and start earlier from the left, but all the zeros create a lot of clutter.
According to IBCS SI 5.2 we should not show more than 4 digits in tables and according to IBCS UN 1.2 we should use metric prefixes (k, m, b). This could lead to presentations like the following one.


Unfortunately, the 10 m€ of sales occupy now much less space than the 9,2 m€ of costs or the 1,05 m€ of personnel expenses.
This we can change using decimals, like shown in the following.


However, at a first glance, the 1,05 m€ of personnel expenses stand out more now than the bigger 1,6 m€ of gross margin which could lead to incorrect first impressions.
Applying the recommendation of aligning the numbers to their decimal sign (I don’t remember with certainty where this comes from. Maybe someone of you can help), the presentation of the m€ corresponds better to their values, but now the numbers in k€ stand out more.


My suggestion is now to align all numbers of one column according to where the decimal sign of the base unit would be (e.g. € instead of k€ or m€), like shown in the following example.


This is even more relevant if we look at measures with different base units, like kg, quantity, head count, averages, etc. where scales use to differ more and more often.


What do you think about it?

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