Archive for the ‘Human Aspects’ Category

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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

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No day passes in anybody’s life without contemplating AT LEAST ONCE some user interface on a computer that confused you and wasted your time!

Studies have shown that the 80/20 rule applies to software also. You use only 20% of the features 80% of the time and as such those are the ONLY features you may need to see in a user interface for you!

What we absolutely need are Lean User Interfaces! If someone adds up all the time they waste every single day looking for something or scratching their head wondering about to get something done on their computer, it would add up to years over a lifetime!

The above video shows something that is a step towards that but we need more approaches that observe what you use in software on a daily basis and adaptively tailors the user interface just for you!

Software developers quite often think FEATURES while users are thinking HOW DO I DO SOMETHING!

The above YouTube video is one step closer to making user interfaces adapt to the end user. It zooms the screens based on how close the user is to the screen.

Email is probably the most time wasting computer software any of us use. If only they come up with better user interfaces for email so that we don’t go on wild goose chases on our own computer!

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works! – Steve Jobs

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