Are you missing time in your Business Charts?!!


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Business Decision making is now a days primarily on data and charts, and most of the charts comfortably ignores the time scale, and it is disorder to take decision based without considering the Time scale. This article explains you the need of time dimension and Time Value Bar

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Are you missing time in your Business Charts?!!

  1. 1. Are you Missing Time inyour Business Charts?! Copyright2013 Vishnuvarthanan Moorthy Data speaks thousand words and Charts speak more than that! Are you one among them who are interested in constructing fascinating charts, and do you believe management decisions can be done easily with few interpretation of charts, then you can spend some “time” to read this… Any activity/motion/process in this world not only consumes movement or energy, but they also consume time. Traditionally we have been ignoring time, time and again. Unless we work on trend or control charts we don’t represent time, instead we work to represent mostly the volume or results in our charts without giving time scale to it. No result can be produced without time and time always moves ahead and never comes back. Many a time it’s not a standard practice for us to attach or provide details of time period of data along with any chart, and we require some manger with common sense to ask the question, which time period it represents and what is the trend in this time period. If we look at any output in chart, it’s important to ask the time it consumed/it represents in a chart. A better way of representing is, every chart shall have time angle to it (only in trend/control charts and some or with timeline). Today we miss time as an indicator in our charts, and occasionally people represent time in Chart title. Why it’s so important? It’s important to understand the movement of energy in a space along with time space, to make a decision which is applicable to the nearest timeline. It helps us to understand the seasonal variation (time space) of outcome and the current condition/latest time period of data. Our decisions are not made for past, they are for future and in order to ensure, it’s important to understand that are we looking at something which is nearer, if not how much old the data in time space, can we rely on it, all these are possible only with understanding of time space. For example, we take an IT companies revenue in last six month and it’s presented to the board of directors and they are asked to understand, which technology they are strong in terms of revenue making…
  2. 2. From this they understand that Java and ERP – Oracle is the major revenue contributing technologies in the period of Apr –Sep 13. As the per the second chart it’s clear that 72.45 cumulative percentage of revenue comes only from these 2 technologies. However any wise man, would like to ask the presenter, where is the clarity in time stamp and how the revenue growth with respect to time space. So if we look at them little closely, by splitting the data by Apr-Jun and Jul –Sep, what we see is down below charts, 23% 10% 3% 4% 49% 8% 2% 1% Revenue Share - 2013 ERP - Oracle ERP - SAP ERP - Peoplesoft CRM Package Java .Net C++ Fortran 49.19 72.45 82.29 90.3493.9296.6098.75100.00 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 0 50,000 100,000 150,000 200,000 250,000 300,000 Revenue Share Contributors Individual Percentage
  3. 3. In the period Apr-Jun again Java and Oracle did contribute 80% 0 50,000 100,000 150,000 200,000 Time Period wise Revenue Share Revenue in $ (Apr-Jun) Revenue in $ (Jul-Sep) 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 0 20,000 40,000 60,000 80,000 100,000 120,000 140,000 160,000 180,000 200,000 Revenue in Apr-Jun Revenue in $ (Apr-Jun) Percentage
  4. 4. In the Period Jul – Sep, we have a surprise that SAP is in top along with Java. Similarly overall revenue is also reduced in the second period. Hence by looking at the first pie chart and cumulative chart (custom Pareto) if the Board of directors takes a decision, will it represent the nearest timeline?! Can we take a decision which truly represents our current condition? The sample case which we have discussed here is of 6 month and for the financial data it is pretty much fine to have monthly data. But in other cases, where the data is from process or from people and there is not much assumed correlation exist between time space and data, we ignore the time space and which is dangerous for our interpretation. Technically today we don’t have a solution to represent Timescale as an axis or in a multidimensional to explain along with data (which are affordable and easily representable in single chart, as each chart has different purpose and we need additional chart to represent time in some cases). It’s a good practice to construct additional time charts, however when you don’t want to present all of them to your management and clutter the presentation, at least it’s important to put a timescale to a chart, which is a reminder for the audience of the chart to think in the perspective of Time. Time Bar is something very simple, which we can add to our any of the chart to communicate, what exactly the time period we are talking about, the below given one is standard one, which can be easily customized and added to your pie chart, Bar charts, etc. (where time is not one of the major axis)… 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 0 20,000 40,000 60,000 80,000 100,000 120,000 Revenue in Jul-Sep Revenue in $ (Jul-Sep) Percentage
  5. 5. Add this bar to your existing charts, the bottom scale represents 1 to 60 counts (lowest unit for seconds) and on the top the scale has “Seconds to Decade”. You can tell Time Value by moving the triangular bars to respective units and value. From the given sample Time Value bar chart we can understand that the bar states “6 month” data. So in our case, we would modify it to read in the following way, What have we changed? Nothing much! But we ensured the reader of the chart is fully aware of the Time Space and can ask /think to understand the time space and your data. This “Time Value Bar”should
  6. 6. be used in most of the condition to ensure we all respect time and take decision which is related to our nearest time and we don’t miss time from our Charts…