How I Enhanced User Navigation for Hierarchical Information Using Xcelsius

  • by Ming Kai Goh, SAP NetWeaver BW-Certified Consultant
  • June 28, 2012

Discover how you can use Xcelsius (now known as SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards) to create a dashboard solution that enables decision makers to drill down through their organizational structure for hierarchical sales information in an intuitive manner.

By using the Tab Set, a Combo Box, and a few other standard components available in Xcelsius, you can create a user-friendly dashboard that allows users to efficiently drill down through hierarchical, sales-related information within a single dashboard. Users can look at revenue and profit from a top organizational level, such as organization or division, then drill down to a more detailed level, such as a product. It simplifies data navigation by employing the look and feel found in a typical Web application that is familiar. In Xcelsius, a Tab Set is a container component. It is used to hold information or other components in multiple tabs, and it lets you click the tabs to switch the data view. A Combo Box is a selectors component that lets you select a single row from multiple rows of data organized in a box to filter in desired information. This shortens the learning curve and improves the user’s experience.   

This case study was originally published on BusinessObjects Expert

When I was involved in a recent SAP BI project, I was asked to work on a requirement to create a Web application look-alike dashboard. It had to have multiple-page, sales-related information (hierarchically from the organization to division to company to product group to product) with drill-down. In this context, that means go to the next view. It had to have go-back buttons (which in this context means drill up or go back to the previous view) enabled on each of the views so that the users could work with the dashboard like a Web application.

The requirement raised questions and doubts about whether such functionality is suitable or even feasible in a dashboard tool such as Xcelsius (now known as SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards). A dashboard is normally used to display summarized information in a single view rather than for in-depth drill-down of hierarchical information with multiple views, with each view itself consisting of summarized information.

The customer and my project team debated whether other BusinessObjects tools, such as SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence or SAP Crystal Reports, are better candidates for drilling down on the data. However, the customer had a strong preference for Xcelsius over the other choices in the BusinessObjects suite because of the appealing visual effect it offers.

Through analysis and research,I created a solution that satisfied this unusual requirement. It is based on the standard components available in Xcelsius 2008, and thus offers the advantage of high reusability and lower maintenance efforts. You can apply this generic solution to any other data source of a hierarchical nature (e.g., organizational turnover statistics for which drilling down and up to view information at different levels of granularity in a dashboard is required).

Ming Kai Goh

Ming Kai Goh is an SAP NetWeaver BW-certified consultant with more than seven years of IT experience. He specializes in business intelligence and data warehousing and has worked on several large SAP BI support and implementation projects in the functional areas of HR, SD, and FI/CO in the past five years. Ming Kai is on LinkedIn at

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