Over the last few years, we have found ourselves working more frequently with charts in our reporting. Why?
First, we need to keep pace with media out in the world. The messages our audiences receive are increasingly visual and auditory. Where a text grid might have told a complete story in the past, today it will be much more successful if told using charts and graphs. Simply adding color or a single chart to a text grid can be very effective.
Second, more and more of the applications we use every day are hosted in the cloud. For us, as consumers of these services, this means reporting is focused on Excel tools, rather than traditional SQL based tools such as SSRS.
One of the leading tools, now considered part of Microsoft’s Power BI suite, is PowerView.
For obvious reasons, PowerView insists on having numeric fields if a chart is to be created. Here is a simple illustration: I want to show project health colors (red, yellow, green) in a pie chart. My managers want to know how much of our project portfolio is healthy, and how much needs additional attention. If I wanted to include the work hours from all current projects and cross reference that with project health, that would probably give us an accurate picture. However, the audience would have to really pay attention to understand what we were showing. Instead, to keep it simple, we’ll just use a count of projects in each health status.
Here is an article that specifically addresses how to turn a text field into a number (i.e., how to turn the “Project Name” text field into a numeric field by adding a count). If you are interested in exploring PowerView, this will be very helpful.
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