Comments archive

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


Jürgen Faisst

Hi Michael,

Thank you for this valuable input. We definitely should improve the criteria for the selection between charts and tables in the next version of the Standards (most probably 1.2).

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Jürgen Faisst

I would agree that ‘Benchmark’ is of the same nature as other scenarios serving as a reference. However, I would not link it to Plan, because it its not fictitious. Therefore I would leave the definition of Plan and Budget untouched and suggest to discuss a new type of scenarios for IBCS Version 1.2 covering scenarios such as “average outlet”, “competitor”, and “industry benchmark”. Any idea for a good name for this type? And what about the visualization? It has to be solid, because it already happened, but how to distinguish it from Actual?

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I prefer the right aligned version in your example. I think it reduces the jumps of the eyes between the values and the labels of the categories.
Furthermore, you can right align the labels in tables as well in order to reduce eye movements.

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I think here we’re missing a few more time series analyses terms. It looks like UN 4.2 is focused on montly periods, but in practice we also have sub-monthly time series analyses.

Most importantly in operational reporting (daily, weekly reports):

MTD (Month-to-Date) = beginning of month to present date

RoM (Rest-of Month) = present date to the end of current month (the equivalent of RoY or YTG as you call it)

rolling 7 days … no idea what a nice abbreviation for that would be

Also moving beyond the period of 1 year we frequently have the CAGR (Compound annual growth rate).

There’s more, but at least the above mentioned time-series analysis should be added here.

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Regarding “YTG” (Year-to-Go): in my experience the most standard term for that is RoY (Rest-of-Year). So YTD+ROY = FY (Full Year).

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We should change the current definition of Plan and Budget not as ‘the mental anticipation of future actions’ but more as ‘a target to compare with/ to reach to’.

Why?
A very common use case in reporting is to compare the company’s own data against various “Benchmarks” / targets (eg. Market avg, estimated sales , etc.).

Instead of adding new semantics for benchmarks we came after a long discussions to the conclusion (Rolf thank you a lot for the given feedback) that a generic benchmark is in fact from the same nature as IBCSs Plan/ Budget.

IBCS would benefit from a more fleshed out definition of Plan/Budget/Benchmark because of its frequent use in daily business.

Our proposal is as follows:

Definition
PL is a target of a key performance indicator (KPI) and has two subtypes.

1
‘toReach’ (Benchmarks mit Zielcharakter) a scenario of mental anticipation of future actions

2
‘toCompare’ (Benchmarks mit Vergleichscharakter) a scenario of 3rd parties actions

Examples
1
Showing planned sales data. (We plan to sell amount of X); Compare planned sales vs AC sales

2
Showing market avg data (Avg. sales in branch X); Compare own sales vs competitors sales

Off course wording is not final and we interested in additional input/ feedback.

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You are right, we have also to consider when one label is very long the other labels can be far away from the chart. In table we have lines which help to find the right line.

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We should unify legends position in charts. In my opinion legends should always have left alignment.

For example, legends in tables always have left alignment, while in charts (stacked column, bar charts…) if we position legend to the left, it has right alignment and if we position legend to the right, it has left alignment.

In my opinion it should be standardized (left alignment), because if legends always have left alignment it would be easier and faster to analyse the report, especially when data series labels do not have the same length.

When readers read some text, they naturally read from left to the right and from top to the bottom of the page. If labels in this case have the right alignment, then visually labels are more difficult to read.



Legends will be positioned outside of the charts which is allowed by IBCS standards.

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Since I also quite often had the challenge to decide whether to use a table or a chart I want to join this discussion and give you some insight based on reviewed literature about this topic. My personal opinion is that we first have to remember the process of business information visualization, e.g. referring to Gene Zelazny:

1) What message do I want to convey?
2) Which kind of comparison do I want to show (e.g., structures, correlations or detailed numbers)?
3) Define the visualization type (e.g., table or bar chart)

These steps build on one another and therefore each previous step defines the subsequent step. For the distinction whether to use a table or a chart I want to refer to cognitive fit theory of Iris Vessey. Cognitive fit theory proposes that the correspondence between task and information presentation format leads to superior task performance for individual users. It describes the relationship between graphical and tabular representations and the types of tasks they support. Based on studies, cognitive fit theory provides an explanation for performance differences among users across different presentation formats such as tables or graphs. The hereafter summarizes aspects of Vessey’s (1991) research paper Cognitive Fit: A Theory-Based Analysis of the Graphs Versus Tables Literature. Decision Sciences 22, 219–240 (1991).

Graphs are spatial problem representations since they present spatially related information. Spatial representations facilitate viewing the information contained therein at a glance without addressing the elements separately or analytically. Hence, perceptual processes provide an appropriate access to the data in a graph.

Tables represent discrete data values. Discrete data values are the only type of information directly represented in tables. Analytical processes provide an appropriate access to the data in a table.

The first type of tasks (those said to be facilitated by graphs) assess the problem area as a whole rather than as discrete data values.

Examples:

“Between the years 1100 and 1438 whose earnings increased most rapidly, those of the wool, silk, or Calimala merchants?” à This is a comparison of trends and is spatial in nature.

“Did sales exceed the cost of goods sold?” à This question requires assessing relationships in the data. It is, therefore, spatial in nature.

The second type of tasks (those said to be facilitated by tables) involve extracting discrete data values. These tasks, then, lead to precise data values, which are referred to as “symbolic” tasks.

Examples:

“How much did the wool merchants earn in the year 11oo?” -> This question requires a specific amount as the response. It is, therefore, symbolic in nature

“What was the company’s net income for the past year?” -> This question also requires a specific amount as the response and is therefore symbolic in nature.

I therefore recommend to update the introductory paragraph of EXPRESS referring to cognitive fit theory to give IBCS users guidance on when to use a table and when to use a chart.

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