Tag Archives: graphics

snippet from an illustration on MDM

How to explain Master Data Management

snippet from an illustration on MDM

Technically difficult to explain topics benefit from clear visual explanations. We recently undertook a wide-ranging series of topical illustrations to help implement an SAP software upgrade. Here’s one from the series, with definition, sketch, and final file.

Master data management (MDM) is a comprehensive method of enabling an enterprise to link all of its critical data to one file, called a master file, that provides a common point of reference. When properly done, MDM streamlines data sharing among personnel and departments.

sketch of master data

Master Data supports a number of functions, such as good business intelligence

Master data supports Business Intelligence through executive decision making, analysis, and informed employees



a national infrastructure model

Business case stories are very persuasive when illustrated

a national infrastructure model

If you’re trying to convince an audience that your approach works, it helps to use a good case story. Illustrating those cases can add the interest of a graphic novel, without being super nerdy about it.

While working with the Forest Service we developed a series of cases describing the benefits of cloud-based collaborative mapping data, or geospatial data. Here are a few examples.

an image of the country and data contributors

The premise, and promise of geospatial data sharing

The inputs and outputs of shared forest data

The Forest Service has 100 years of map data to share

a sketch or people monitoring completion of a scorecard

An early sketch of a case story

Forest measurement through improved tracking.

Using geospatial data improves project tracking quality across broad landscapes

As we discussed the benefits and opportunities, additional applications came to light for further illustration work. A series was created for executive briefings and organizational implementation discussions.

An image of radio tower operational tracking in the field

Geospatial tracking improves field safety by providing radio tower alert notifications ahead of remote travel

An image of a truck finding its way on FS roads with navigation device

Merge FS roads with public road information to improve navigation on devices

A researcher works at a computer

Thematic data, on a subject like Climate Change, can be gathered from many sources

Enterprise change instructions made visual

One challenge in promoting an organization-wide change is tuning the message details correctly. When different people need the information at different times, and in different detail levels, the messages can become complex quickly. In this case for example, we had some technology users with compressed files and some with none. We had some users who were responsible for multiple computers. All had to migrated on a manageable and orderly schedule.

the original communication

The original timeline instructions

Our response was to develop a critical path to change that everyone had to follow with corollaries for special cases, like multiple computers. The images did some of the lifting for comprehension so we could use less copy overall.

An early development sketch

An early development sketch

The copy that was needed was left editable in PPT while the images were refined to tell the story with almost no reading required.

Process with no words

Process with no words

The final version of the PPT can be seen below. If you have a complicated change project to communicate, consider using visuals to help engage audiences and speed things along.

Final EAD process overview

Final EAD process overview

Data design for comprehension

A recent client in the Oregon Department of Transportation was looking to automate the production of about 50 reports to various local schools. The reports carried important information about the likelihood of students to walk or bike to school based on distance and other factors.

We revised the reports to graphically communicate the information. There was production time savings to be found in exporting the 50 reports from Excel to Word so a more polished report could be produced automagically. Here’s the before and after.

an excel spreadsheet page
The story is locked in the numbers
This is a Word file importing Excel information
AFTER redesign: A Word file importing Excel data