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Microsoft Visio 2010 : Visualizing Your Data - Enhancing Diagrams with Data-Driven Graphics

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6/20/2013 7:38:18 PM
A person using a Visio diagram you create can learn a lot about the subject of the diagram based on your choice of shapes, their positions on the page, how they are connected, and many other visual cues. However, if your diagram is connected to an external data source, it can convey so much more information.

In this section, you will see four examples of diagrams that use data graphics to tell even more of the story behind the picture.

Network Equipment Diagram

 The story behind this diagram is as follows:

  • You are a data center manager and have created rack diagrams for each rack in your computer room.

  • You’ve populated your drawing with data to connect your diagram to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or a database.

  • The data for each rack-mounted server includes the data shown in the following graphic.

    Network Equipment Diagram
  • The spreadsheet or database contains some static data about your equipment, but it also contains live status information that is updated periodically.

  • You have configured your Visio diagram to automatically read the data source and refresh the drawing at a preset time interval.

The result is that you can use data graphics to turn your Visio drawing into a dashboard for viewing network and equipment status. In the following graphic, several data graphics have been applied to the equipment rack to highlight the following:

  • Server name and type (left)

  • Server status (center)

  • CPU and memory (right)

    Network Equipment Diagram

The following graphic shows the same equipment rack, at the same moment in time, but it uses different data graphics to highlight different information. In this version of the rack diagram, you see the following:

  • Server name and IP address (left)

  • Operating system name (right)

In addition, the status of the server is made even more evident by applying a color to the entire server shape rather than using an icon as in the previous example.

Network Equipment Diagram

Part of the appeal of data graphics is represented by these two examples—you can apply different graphics at different times depending on what you need to know.

Tip

If you would like to work with a very similar diagram to the preceding example, click the File tab, and then click New. In the Other Ways To Get Started section, click Sample Diagrams, and then double-click the IT Asset Management thumbnail.

Process Improvement Workflow

In this example, data graphics have been applied to process steps in a swimlane diagram in order to show several process quality measurements. In the upper right of the diagram, you also see a data graphic legend

The metrics in this diagram:

  • Show the duration of each step (look for a thermometer bar across the bottom of each task shape).

  • Display a warning if the step is taking either 5-9 days or 10 or more days (lower-left corner of each step).

  • Indicate whether each step is improving or being investigated (shape color).

The symbolism used for each of these metrics is explained in the legend that appears in the upper-right corner of the page.

Process Improvement Workflow

Tip

If you would like to work with a very similar diagram to the preceding example, click the File tab, and then click New. In the Other Ways To Get Started section, click Sample Diagrams, and then double-click the Process Improvement thumbnail.

Casino Operation

The third example illustrates the types of near real–time information that a casino manager might view in Visio with the goal of monitoring critical operations. In all likelihood your job doesn’t involve managing a casino, but you can probably think of important operations that you do need to monitor.

Casino Operation

You see text callouts that highlight each bettor’s recent history, including current dollar standing, average bet, and number of blackjacks. There is also a red or green arrow showing how each player is trending.

Risk Management

In the final example, you are viewing part of a process map that was created using a Visio add-in called TaskMap (www.taskmap.com). The following graphic shows three tasks in the middle of a sales proposal process.

Risk Management

In this diagram, the data graphics depict two aspects of risk management:

  • Yellow triangles identify risks; the number in each triangle relates to an entry in a master list of risks. Green diamonds show the corresponding control that the organization has put in place to mitigate the risk. (An organization might maintain the master list of risks and controls in something as simple as a spreadsheet, or they might employ a formal risk management system.)

    In a task like the one in the center, the organization has identified a risk but not a control, so the risk is more significant.

  • The red arrows identify tasks that exceed a defined time threshold—30 minutes in the case of this example.

There is a third data graphic in this example: the task on the right displays a red diamond to indicate that it is a decision point in the process.

The examples in this section highlight the importance of the data behind a diagram and suggest a variety of creative ways you can add value to your data-connected diagrams.

 
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