Moving from sharing business insight to collaborative dashboard design

Guillermo Lopez / Monday, June 3, 2013

Collaboration on business intelligence assets it's not only about sharing business insight. That's, no doubt, a big part of it. Once you come across a performance indicator that's out of range, or you identify a trend that's not going according to plan you will want to share that with others. It's only natural. But that's not all there is to collaboration on business intelligence

True collaboration is not just about sharing insight, but also about being able to build on top of what others have done. It's this ability to "step on the shoulders of giants", and realize that the slice of information you need, can be easily achieved by tweaking an existing dashboard someone else has shared. That's the real potential of collaborative business intelligence, the ability to collaborate on the creation and usage of business intelligence assets. 

This is one of the key features we believe make ReportPlus stand out in the mobile business intelligence segment. By allowing out of the box, to save dashboards in shared locations, such as: SharePoint document libraries, Google Drive or Dropbox folders, it empowers you to share your reports with the rest of your team, in such a way that it makes it really easy to open and edit what someone else has done, and pick up the design process from there.  BTW, ReportPlus also enables you to share business insights, by email as a screenshot, or exported powerpoint presentation but that's not what we are going to cover in this article.

Saving the dashboard to a shared location

By default when saving a dashboard with ReportPlus the save dialog prompts the user to choose whether the dashboard should be saved locally, or in a shared location. If the Cloud option is selected, the user must select a folder within the selected connection by tapping the Folder option of the save dialog. 

Save Report to cloud

For instance if the connection is a SharePoint site, the user may browse the structure of sub sites, and lists, searching for a document library where to save the dashboards. In the case of SharePoint it's highly recommended to use document libraries with versioning support enabled, which makes it easier to allow users to experiment, and share different versions of a dashboard, and if something when unexpectedly roll back to a previous version. 

Browse Data Source Report

Open shared dashboards

By tapping the open from cloud icon (Open Report From Cloud) in the left corner of the upper navigation bar in the initial view of ReportPlus users are able to navigate connections of the supported types, and open dashboards previously created by other team members. In order to edit dashboards you must tap the Edit button on the upper bar to switch to edit mode. 

Open Dashboard from Cloud repository

In the Enterprise version of ReportPlus this process is enhanced further by configuring a shared repository which is displayed right away upon opening the application, making it really easy to collaborate on dashboard design. In this version the user can easily toggle between the local and the shared location configured for his profile. In the following example we see folders that contain the different dashboards, for the different organizational areas of the company. Of course permissions are set independently in SharePoint, and inherited by ReportPlus. 

ReportPlus Enterprise Shared Folders


Read only dashboards

Sometimes it's ok to restrict what others might be able to do with a dashboard. For instance if the shared dashboard is going to cross organizational boundaries, you may want to share it in such a way that users will be able to open it, navigate it, zoom in and out charts, change filters values, etc, but not edit, or even see the way it's implemented. This may respond to a different level of expertise in the group of users consuming the dashboard, just to avoid inefficiencies of users "breaking" the dashboard without intending to, or to more complex reasons such as a lack of trust, or contractual obligations. In any case, this scenario is supported by ReportPlus, since it allows to set a password upon saving the dashboard, which forces the user who opens the dashboard to enter the password when and if he wants to edit it.