Insufficient data from Andrew Fryer

The place where I page to when my brain is full up of stuff about the Microsoft platform

Hierarchies avoid arguments

Just when you thought you had heard the last of hierarchies there’s another post.  This one is a little different – it’s about managing confrontation and arguments, not with the code in the SQL server CLR but with other humans!

In a hierarchy you navigate upwards to see information at a summary level e.g. from January to 2007 to all time, and from 1.9dcti ghia to Mondeo to Ford. How does this apply to real life? Imagine chatting to an imaginary Australian friend about the indifferent result of England in the rugby against the USA:

The annoying accurate jibe from the supremely confident antipodian 

Mate, England won’t stand a chance against us if they play like they did against the USA

to which you reply

Well, they’re playing better than they did in their last six games”   

So rolling up negates the one bad performance or establishes a trend.  Another example can be found on radio 4 with John Humphrys having ago at some crime statistic to a Ministry of Justice official.  The spin would come back ” Well John if we look at the overall figures I think we’ll found that levels of crime have come down since our government has been office” .  The point here is that both of them are right; at a certain level of detail things could be really bad, but looking at the big picture the trend is improving. 

Back to business intelligence, what does this mean for us IT professionals?  We could argue that “It’s not my problem” – We are just building the data for the business to explore.  But a more helpful approach is to show both the detail and the high level information but also to pick out the weakest links and exceptions.  The technique is called bubble-up exceptions and the easiest way to expose this ability to the users is simply to use the built in capabilities in ProClarity/ Microsoft Office Performance Point Server (MOPPS).  This does require that power users are trained to use this tool but they also have the considerable benefit of knowing what they are looking for.