Ask any heavy user of Pivot Tables in Microsoft Excel and they will tell you hundreds of stories on how they wasted time, effort and money creating other versions of Pivot Tables from the ones they already had.
For example, say you are analyzing how much time each agent in a customer support call center for Symantec Anti-Virus products or Intuit Tax or Accounting products is spending, resolving issues with the software products they support.
The Call Center is interested in monitoring and making sure that agents resolve issues over the phone, keep the customer happy, but at the same time do not spend more than say 15 minutes per call on any issue. So it slices and dices Agent-wise times and then drills down to Product Type and sees if that particular agent has any more problems resolving issues with Product X Vs. Product Y.
On the other hand, the company is interested in seeing how Product X and Product Y support is going, and so it drills down to Product Level totals and if needed then drilldown to an Agent level.
You would think that with the same data, creating these two pivot tables would be easy. Not so with just Excel spreadsheets alone. When data sets are huge, doing any kind of reorganized reporting takes days and even weeks manually.
Enter a lot of Drag and Drop Business Intelligence solutions that you can just drag and drop columns and the system instantly recalculates the totals and shows you the reorganized reports. Recalculation takes time and computing resources since they will have to redo the totals if the columns are interchanged for proper slicing and dicing.
Now watch this video about In-Memory Analysis from Jaspersoft.
This Commercial Open Source Software from Jaspersoft, makes it even simpler and easier, by doing all the calculations on the fly, In Memory. Multi-dimensional Cube Operations in dealing with slicing and dicing is very compute intensive and in-memory calculations make the whole thing fly faster.
You would not think that such technical arcana have little to do with cutting waste in money, time and resources but with the right technology, you can achieve a lot of your Lean Improvement goals, as well! After all if you are spending time creating the reports rather than acting on them to put in course corrections, you are wasting time, money and resources.
Don’t use a lot where a little will do – Proverb