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The fundamentals of management information – T


Bissantz Bild

Table, graphic

A type of table that supplements numerical values with bars, columns, circles, or → sparklines. Graphic tables combine the structure of a table with the attractive­ness of a chart. The compact, data-dense form of tables are both easy to read and understand at a glance. Graphics direct the human eye in an appealing manner, provide an intuitive impression of the value’s distribution, and reveal patterns. In other words, graphic tables use charts to steer the readers’ attention while giving them numbers to ponder. Graphic tables maintain their format much better and are easier to automate than other visualization forms because the graphical ele­ments adjust to the defined cell size without shifting the labels in the process. This makes them well-suited for → industrial reporting, which is why they have been a standard in DeltaMaster for many years now.


Standards for column heads, KPI views, labels, color selection, etc. In recent years, there have been more and more initiatives to standardize reporting. Rolf Hichert and we offer a comprehensive set of suggestions for creating enterprise standards. DeltaMaster recommends our standards through templates and default settings. We have even packed an arsenal of business, → data mining, and statistical methods into templates.

Three-D (3D)

Visualizing space, landscapes, or architecture is a good thing. In the case of charts, however, it almost never makes sense because they are so difficult to read. Bella has frequently snarled about that. In DeltaMaster, all automatically generated charts are in 2D, and we are even debating to remove 3D functions completely from all do-it-yourself methods.



A text that runs from one side of the screen to the other. Tickers present informa­tion without the need for interaction. They are useful when resolution is limited or the information should just run continuously at the edge of a screen. DeltaMaster can display numbers, texts, graphical elements, and images as tickers – even in individual cells. Different speeds represent different quantities or frequencies. We use tickers to visualize sequences, flows, or growth.

Time series

Analysis of a sequence of values at consecutive times. Times series can’t be displayed as a table and still have their problems as → line or → column charts. Choosing the proper scale is more problematic than most people would care to be­lieve, especially when it comes to comparing the developments of several objects with another. Time series are one of the strengths of DeltaMaster because we do a great deal – for example → comparable scales, → logarithmic scales, trend lines, differential areas, indexing, interpolation, and → sparklines – to enable in-depth integrity.

Time rule

Time runs from left to right. Not only in diagrams, but also in tables. And yet this rule is sometimes breached in otherwise deadly serious annual reports. The previous year on the right, the year under review on the left: This is how tax consultants and auditors structure the typical two-year comparison in the income statement and the balance sheet – out of sheer habit. Curiously, annual reports even adopt the same principle when comparing figures over a five-year or ten-year period. Mental acrobatics are required in order to understand the development over time. And readability and credibility suffer as a result. Nonsense like this is no model for business intelligence.

Touch operation

An invention that has made computers more human. It is just fun to see how tapping, wiping, and zooming can create a meaningful effect. The success of the iPhone and iPad, at least, has a lot to do with touch gestures. In the case of management information, touch gestures are no easy challenge. Similar reports are now supposed to work on different devices – sometimes with a mouse and keyboard, other times with just your fingers, which means no mouseover function and, therefore, no helpful tooltip to preview the effect of a click. DeltaMaster steps up to this challenge with new concepts for interaction.

Traffic lights

A good idea in theory. Most traffic light charts, however, are mediocre, which then even makes them dangerous. Colored signals should help you identify variances more quickly. Signals are wonderful – if you are able to recognize and verify the reason why the signal was sent. In most cases, however, they are often a reason behind major mishaps. The downfall of the German state-owned banks Sachsen LB and Bayern LB as well as the mismanagement scandal at Berlin-Brandenburg airport were all brought in connection with poorly made traffic light charts. In DeltaMaster you find traffic lights among others as “Report Weather“. The appli­cation severely sticks to the principal, displaying the signal and the underlying cause verifiably and at the same time with a better color concept (from a psychological standpoint).

Typographic scaling

This was first created for words, initially just in headings and then in “tag clouds”. There, the font size is increased or decreased depending on a frequency value. The more obvious development actually came later, from us: systematically writing numbers in a larger font size when the numbers themselves are larger. You can read more on this here.