BigPicture Example Series: Investment Decisions

In the BigPicture Example Series, we’ll show you different ways you can make BigPicture work for you.  You can check out all these example files with your copy of the BigPicture software, which you can download here. Get BigPicture today and start playing with these fun and informative example models. The possibilities are limitless.

The BigPicture map below illustrates the investment decisions a company must make over multiple time periods. The purpose of such a map is to help the decision maker understand the various aspects of the problem. These include the inputs to the problem (monetary values and other inputs), the decisions involved, any uncertainties, and important outputs. Each of these is represented by a topic (an object of some color and shape), and the topics are connected logically by arrows to show what affects what.

Screenshot 2015-09-15 15.55.58

 

Normally, problems like this one are represented, and solved numerically, by Excel tools and possibly add-ins such as Palisade’s Evolver optimization add-in. However, a map like the one shown here is useful as a preliminary step to a formal analysis. It lets decision makers see the important issues in the decision problem and how they are related.

By studying the map (and using the Topic Key at the top left), the elements of the problem should be fairly clear. However, if this isn’t enough, you can Play the slide show that accompanies the map. This shows how the analysis unfolds in steps, and text boxes explain each step in some detail.

Once you create the basic map with BigPicture’s tools, you can then use Excel’s Shape tools to reshape or recolor topics or connectors.

 

 

Take Your Concept Maps To The Next Level with BigPicture

If you’re a mind mapping or concept mapping enthusiast, you know how effective these tools can be.  Ideas, processes, and decisions are clarified and presented with powerful visuals–something BigPicture for Excel software does with ease:

hypothese bp map closeup

BP chart image

But BigPicture can go beyond these diagrams. One of the software’s stand-out features is its ability to link to Excel spreadsheet data, and automatically reflect any changes in that data should it change–creating what we call a ‘live-linked data map’. This feature allows you to automatically display your data as visual maps that can be manipulated, customized, and hyper-linked to other resources.

That means you can take data, such as a compiled list of the final MLB (Major League Baseball) standings, plus other information, for the 2014 season:

mlb data sheet

This data sheet has one row for each of the 30 MLB teams. It lists the team name, division, league, location, and two hyperlinks for team information. It also lists the number of wins and losses, the winning percentage, and total runs scored for each team.

 

That information can be easily converted into a map that looks like this:

mlb data map

 

This map displays  League and Division, and features end tables of the teams in a given division, along with their wins, losses, winning percentage, and runs scored. The end tables also show markers and hyperlinks for the teams and their locations.  All that data from the spreadsheet is now shown in a visual, logical map that can be easily read and understood.

Want to learn how to do this yourself? Head over to our BigPicture Help Manual, and check out the step-by-step guide, “What is a Data Map and how do I create a Data Map?”

 

 

Introduction to BigPicture FREE Webinar on 2nd September 2015

BigPicture is Palisade’s new mind mapping, diagramming, and data visualization add-in for Microsoft Excel. In this webcast, we will show you how BigPicture works, and how it can aid in strategic planning, human resource analysis, data exploration, and more. We will walk through the basics of setting up a BigPicture diagram (or “map”), and illustrate several real-world examples of different applications. After seeing how simple and flexible BigPicture is, you should be able to start trying it out on your own problems.

To register, click here.

 

BigPicture Example Series: Adding pictures to topics

In the BigPicture Example Series, we’ll show you different ways you can make BigPicture work for you.  You can check out all these example files with your copy of the BigPicture software, which you can download here. Get BigPicture today and start playing with these fun and informative example models. The possibilities are limitless.

BigPicture is an excellent tool for adding pictures to topics – pictures can add just the right personal touch to any data map or org chart.  Below are three ways to add pictures in BigPicture.

Add a picture inside a topic:

You can add a picture inside a topic via the Topic pane or via the BigPicture pop-up menu. Click on the Topic button in the View section of the BigPicture ribbon to display the Topic pane to the right of your workbook. Then click on the desired topic in the map to select it. Click on the Picture option in the Topic pane and click in the Include Picture checkbox. (Alternatively, you can right click on a topic and Add Picture.) After the default BigPicture image has appeared in the topic, right click on the image and chose Change Picture. Note: After a picture has been added to a topic you can change its properties via the Topic Pane.

Screenshot 2015-08-13 15.34.24

 

Add a Picture as a Marker on the Outside of a Topic:

Markers are smaller pictures that are displayed just outside the Topic. Markers are selected from lists of related markers, like Countries, Numbers, or Progress. BigPicture comes with a set of pre-defined markers you can use. To access these pre-defined markers, click on the Topic button in the View section of the BigPicture ribbon to display the Topic pane. Then click on the desired topic in the map to select it. Click on the Markers option in the Topic pane. Next to the desired marker list, click in the Marker column and use the dropdown list to select a marker. (Alternatively, you can right click a topic and select Markers from the BigPicture pop-up menu to see the available marker lists and markers you can add.) In this example we chose 2 markers from the Smiley category.

Screenshot 2015-08-13 15.32.20

 

Add a Picture to Represent a Topic:

To give a little more whimsical look and feel to your Topics, you can make the Topic appear as an image itself vs. an image within the Topic. Right click and choose the Excel “Fill” option (Format Shape > Picture or Texture Fill option in Excel 2010). Then browse for a picture that you would like to use. Note: In Excel 2013 there is also an option to search the internet for royalty free images.

 

Screenshot 2015-08-13 15.33.05

 

For more information on BigPicture visit our website.

 

 

 

 

Two Rave Reviews for BigPicture

 

Industry leader Mind Mapping Software Blog says: “BigPicture’s elegant toolset is ideal for any executive who already uses Excel in his or her work… Calling BigPicture an add-in hardly does it justice. It offers a comprehensive toolset that enables you to quickly get to work creating new mind maps, concept maps and flow chart diagrams, while leveraging Excel’s existing drawing and editing tools to adjust the formatting of individual elements.” Read the complete review here.

Small Business Trends’ review of BigPicture says, “by the time you reach the center of BigPicture, you’re going to wonder how you ever lived without it… With its deeply flexible features and functionality, as well as an ever growing set of documentation and videos, BigPicture is the one tool you don’t want to overlook in 2015.”

 

What’s New in BigPicture? Attach Custom Shapes

The BigPicture development team is always working to improve our software, which means regular updates.  Here’s a sample of what we’ve added to our latest deployment of BigPicture Beta on May 5, 2015:

Attach Custom Shapes

This option is available under the Attach Shapes category, and can be found via Attach Shapes > Custom. This is simply a way that you can add Excel shapes to the selected topic(s).

By utilizing the Custom command a default light yellow call-out shape will be attached to the selected topic(s) and will move with the topic(s). Simply select that topic(s) that you would like to attach an image to, right click and choose the Attach Shapes > Custom > Add New command. (NOTE: You can also access this command from the Topic Tools icon in the BigPicture ribbon.)

Here are some additional notes describing how this command can improve your maps:

  1. The default light yellow call-out shape will appear above top-most topic selected.
  2. You can customize your shape by utilizing Excel’s standard capabilities of changing the color, shape effects, size, font, text, etc.
  3. If you decide to move the topic(s) that the custom shape is attached to, the shape will move also.
  4. Custom shapes can overlap.
  5. Multiple custom shapes can be added to the same topic, or group of topics. All of which can be moved and re-sized. (NOTE: To access any custom shapes that may be hidden behind another one, simply right click and utilize the Send to Back and Bring to Front commands from the pop-up menu.)
  6. If you collapse (hide) any of the topics that the shape is attached to, the shape will collapse (hide) with it.
  7. A custom shape can be to a single topic or multiple topics.

If you would like to use the same style custom shape (or any other existing “non-BigPicture” Excel shape) that already exists:

  • Select the topic(s) that you would like to add that custom shape to FIRST
  • Choose the Attach Shapes > Custom > Copy Existing command.
  • At this point a dialog will appear asking you to select the shape that you would like to copy. Click on the existing shape that you would like to duplicate.
  • Click OK.

NOTE: To remove a custom shape, just click on the shape and hit your delete key on your keyboard.

screensteps2Click here for a complete overview of BigPicture updates.