Snapshot Design - Where to Begin?
There are many ways to build a nice-looking report to show off your hard work in collecting and analyzing your performance data. Demonstrating Value recommends that you choose the solution that best fits your needs and your capacity to keep your snapshot up to date. Many social entrepreneurs manage their businesses with Excel spreadsheets, and this is an acceptable format for a Demonstrating Value snapshot if now is not the time for your organization to pick up a new piece of software.
We have found that SAP's Crystal Presentation Design and Dashboard Design software provides powerful features that can enhance Excel spreadsheets and do some pretty cool things with data visualization. This page offers a collection of resources for getting started with building a snapshot with SAP Crystal software.
Registered nonprofits are eligible to get the Dashboard Design software at a fraction of the standard license cost through Techsoup: Techsoup SAP product page
Private companies and individual consultants must purchase a license through the online store:
SAP online store: Crystal Dashboard design
SAP online store: Crystal Presentation design
Different Names, Different Versions – Choose the right license
This dashboard design software was formerly released under the name “Xcelsius” when it was owned/developed by the company Business Objects, but the product names changed after Business Objects was acquired by SAP in 2008.
- 2011 version (v. 188.8.131.52 and up) - called "Crystal Presentation Design" or "Crystal Dashboard"
- 2008 version (v. 184.108.40.206 and down) - called "Xcelsius Present" or "Xcelsius Engage"
The table below shows the difference between SAP’s Crystal Presentation Design and Crystal Dashboard Design software – the big difference is whether you can export raw Flash files, and whether you can use other forms of data input than an Excel spreadsheet.
|SAP Crystal Presentation Design (a.k.a. Xcelsius Present)||SAP Crystal Dashboard Design Personal (a.k.a. Xcelsius Engage)|
|Basic data presentation components||Yes||Yes|
|Export to Adobe PDF and Microsoft Office||Yes||Yes|
|Dashboard creation components and export to Web and Adobe Flash, AIR||No||Yes|
|Live data connections to external sources||None||Two|
Instructions, Training and Support
- Training videos are a good place to start for first-time users. The videos will help you get familiar with the software and what it can do.
- We also recommend downloading the user guide – it is long, but it is also comprehensive and clearly written, with lots of pictures and diagrams to explain how the different components work.
- There is also a large user community for SAP Crystal products and (like for Excel) there are many forums and message boards where you can find answers to both simple and advanced questions.
- If you want answers right from the source, you can always call SAP's Crystal Solutions Team toll free at 1 877 844 3765 (weekdays 9 am to 4 pm PST).
The official Xcelsius 2008 user guide (400 pages of PDF excitement)
Download user guide (PDF)
The official collections of instructional videos published by SAP (Youtube: Xcelsius2008)
An unofficial collection of instructional videos (Youtube: xcelsiusinfo)
- features: a very useful “beginner’s guide” to Xcelsius in 4 parts:
- Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4
Datapig provides a good range of videos from basic to advanced topics. Some of the videos use older versions of the software but the instructions are still valid.
Demonstrating Value webinars featuring Bryn Sadownik, Steve Williams, and Michele Cherot:
- Introduction to Demonstrating Value (3 parts, 22 minutes total)
- BusinessObjects help and tutorial page
- Tips and tricks for more advanced Xcelsius users
- Technical (installation, platform etc.) FAQ page
- Some notes on Xcelsius installation troubleshooting
- How to open a dashboard from Xcelsius 2011 with Xcelsius 2008
Dashboard Examples and Templates
The Demonstrating Value Library of Templates and Examples (work in progress)
The examples below are good to look at for some inspiration for how you can get creative with dashboard design. The use of imported/placed graphics to guide the user’s attention to dashboard features and the “drill down” features are particularly noteworthy in some of these examples.