Design Essentials for Intuitive and High-Performing MicroStrategy Dossiers

Soumya HaridasMarch 29, 2022

Did you know that 65% of the general global population are visual learners? Since users prefer visuals, organizations prefer to use data reports that are visually enriched to convey the most important business insights intuitively.

Did you know that most dashboard projects that fail are due to poor response times? Users are annoyed when having to wait for a web page or dashboard to display its content.

MicroStrategy Dossiers provide interactive data visualizations to showcase and explore your business data. Effective use of visuals and data combined with faster response times provide the best user experience, thereby increasing the success and adoption of dossiers.

Dossier Design Recommendations:

Here are some recommendations and best practices you can use while designing high-performance MicroStrategy dossiers.

  1. Use Data Storytelling Technique – Many of us often make the mistake of creating dossiers in an iterative fashion. We’ll add one requirement on top of another, paying less attention to how the overall data story gets depicted, or how it impacts the user experience. You’ll want to declutter, with storyboarding based on your user personas being the recommended approach.

    Storyboarding provides a well-thought out, structured way of articulating your data story. This includes use of landing pages, summary dossier, and detailed dossiers presented via seamless navigation. Here it’s important to use intuitive visualizations that add meaning to your data while ensuring a lightweight design.

  2. Make the Right Design Choices – Design considerations that directly impact performance include:

    • Limiting the count of datasets
    • Direct use of intelligent cubes in a dossier instead of view reports
    • Implementing cube partitioning when data volumes are high

    Employing these techniques improves processing time of metrics and your overall dashboard.

  3. Limit On-the-Fly Calculations – Avoid pulling in a huge volume of raw data into a dossier to perform on-the-fly calculations. Rather, restrict such intensive calculations to the database end. Limiting the use of derived attributes, derived metrics, and removing unused metric calculations from dossiers can significantly improve their performance.

  4. Consider a Summary/Detail Approach – When reporting on event snapshot data, it often involves performing intensive, real-time count functions against the raw data stream. Such a huge data volume puts a heavy load on the dossier to perform derived calculations on-the-fly.

    Though there are no easy solutions, a simple trick is to split the dossier into summary and detail views. A summary dossier can be built with multiple, simple mini-datasets—each feeding a precalculated KPI (count function). A detail dossier can continue to fetch the entire raw data, but with minimal derived calculations. This design helps transfer the load from the analytical engine to the SQL engine while improving performance.

  5. Avoid Duplicate Data & Derived Metrics – Duplication slows down data processing and visualization performance. When merging two dossiers having the same underlying datasets/cubes, remove duplicate sets of derived metrics (i.e., auto-created) from visualizations; delete them from the dossier.

Aligning to these design recommendations helps teams significantly improve the overall performance of the dossiers. Nevertheless, knowing some troubleshooting tips helps to address any impending performance issues.

Tips for Troubleshooting Performance Bottlenecks:

  • Turn on Dossier Cache and Load Pages on Demand – Enabling dossier caching helps minimize the number of direct database hits if there are multiple executions of the same dossier. For dossiers having several chapters with multiple pages, the load pages on demand option reduces the initial time for the dossier to load and render.
  • Use Query Details for Troubleshooting – Access Query Details from the menu at the top-right corner of a visualization. This can help you understand the underlying query and execution time, as well as identify any bottlenecks.

Dossiers should always be created keeping your end users in mind. That is, dossiers should be simple, flexible, and intuitive, thereby facilitating acceptance and use. Get our Data Storytelling eBook to learn more about communicating tailored insights to a specific audience by way of a compelling narrative.

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