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?”

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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For more information on BigPicture visit our website.

 

 

 

 

BigPicture Example Series: Data Map of Power Generation in the Midwest

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 generating a Data Map from a set of example data. For example: check out this  data set of major electric power plants in four states in the US Midwest:

powergendataset

A Data Map is created by grouping values in selected columns in a data set. In this example, grouping is made by State and Primary Energy Source. The map includes a topic for each state, with subsequent child topics following each state representing the possible Primary Energy Source values in that state. In BigPicture, these parent and child topics are called “Grouped Topics”.

powergen1

A set of end topics will follow the grouped topics for each State and Primary Energy Source. These end topics represent those electric power plants that have the same State and Primary Energy Source values. You can select the data you want to include for each end topic. In this example we’ll display Plant name, Operating Company name and the value for Capacity (MW).

In a Data Map, end topics are usually displayed in End Tables, instead of in actual map topics. By using tables, the number of topics required for a map is minimized, while still allowing the graphical display of the data. However, if desired, you can create an individual topic in the map for each end topic, resulting in a larger map with more connectors and topics.

powergen2

The capacity value for each plant can be subtotalled up through the grouped topics that precede it. For example, the grouped topic for the state Illinois will show the total Capacity for all plants in Illinois. These values are “live”, so if you change a capacity value in the data set , the map values will recalculate.

powergen3

Markers and pictures can be added to enhance the map. For this map, BigPicture adde a company logo to each plant’s entry by matching a picture file from the Photos folder to the listed company name. A hyperlink was also added to the table to provide a link to a web location that has additional information on each plant. BigPicture reads this hyperlink from the Detailed Description column of the data set and displays the Hyperlink in each plant’s entry in the End Table. Illustrative pictures are also added to grouped topics to highlight each State and Primary Energy Source.

 

Check out the full example model in BigPicture’s ‘Example Spreadsheets’ section under the Help menu:

 

help

NFL Free Agency: Use BigPicture’s Data Map to see who was Overpaid Last Year

Wilfork to the Texans, Vareen to the Giants, Revis back to the Jets, Jimmy Graham to Seattle, Byron Maxwell to the Eagles…with free agency in full swing, football fever is still abuzz for the SuperBowl XLIX contenders!  With that being said we thought we would take another look at the NFL-inspired BigPicture map–not only does it give a visual overview of every NFL player’s team, position, and salary for the 2014 season, but also their Madden rating.

NFLsalarymap

Madden Ratings are simply ratings of the overall performance of individual NFL players and are used internally in the video game Madden NFL. They help control how individual players perform in the video game, and are updated regularly by EASports, the game publisher. In general, the ratings range from 60-99, with a varying number of players from different teams at each rating value. Players with the rating 99 are the best performing players in the NFL.

NFLBlog2

This information can be handy when evaluating if a player is over- or underpaid, according to their performance: the supporting formulas on the worksheet NFL 2014 calculate the league-wide average salary for players at each Madden rating value. The formulas in the column Over Paid By simply calculate the difference between a player’s actual salary and the average salary for all NFL players at his Madden rating.

Thus, if you look at the BigPicture Example File for Data Map –NFL Salaries, you can see that the Patriot’s Malcom Butler was considered underpaid by $33,491 with a salary of $420,000  at the beginning of the year when he had a placeholder Madden value of 62.5 because he was an undrafted rookie free-agent. However, if you update his Madden rating to a 77 to reflect his rating after his game-sealing interception, it shows that he is considered underpaid by $1.3 million! Good thing Tom Brady gave him the truck!

NFLBlog3

With the flurry of changes to NFL rosters this week, we will be looking forward to seeing how the Madden ratings are affected and who is considered overpaid/underpaid in the upcoming 2015 season!

This blog post is part of the BigPicture Example Series, which showcases different ways to make BigPicture work for you.  All these examples come 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!

Introduction to “Live-Linked” Concept Maps: Video Tutorial

One of the best advantages of BigPicture is that its concept maps can contain topics that are ‘live-linked’ to data in your Excel spreadsheet.  This means you can perform simple or calculations in Excel and then create a map that has those calculations embedded within the topics.

This capability allows for endless applications and uses, making dry data and spreadsheets come to life with visual infographics that can be easily grasped.  To learn how to make a live-linked map, check out our step-by-step video tutorial below:

If you haven’t done so already, make sure to try BigPicture for free so you can start exploring all its features and capabilities.

BigPicture Example Series: Calculating Travel Costs

In the BigPicture Example Series, we’ll show you different ways you can make BigPicture work for you.  All these examples come 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!

Calculating Travel Costs:

This example illustrates how a set of numeric calculations can be used to create a “live” map. The Data sheet contains input data (in blue cells) and calculations for a European trip.

travel cost data sheet

The map on the next sheet then contains topics that link to cells on the Data sheet. Actually, each topic links to multiple cells on the Data sheet, a feature implemented in BigPicture. The map is “live” in the sense that if any of the input data in the blue cells change, the data in the map update automatically.

travel cost map

Check out the full example model in BigPicture’s ‘Example Spreadsheets’ section under the Help menu:

BP example files location