Visualize Your Data in Microsoft Visio 2016

  • 1/8/2016
This chapter from Microsoft Visio 2016 Step By Step guides you through procedures related to enhancing diagram effectiveness, creating and applying data graphics, editing data graphics, and creating data graphic legends.

In Chapter 8, “Work with shape data,” you viewed and reported on data stored in Visio shapes. Although those techniques are useful in many circumstances, Visio provides an even more effective way to take advantage of data: you can create data graphics that enhance shapes by adding text callouts and icons based on the data contained in the shapes. Even better, data graphics are dynamic, so when the data in a shape changes, Visio refreshes the graphics automatically.

In the next chapter, you will take data graphics to another level by visualizing data stored in an external location. In this chapter, you will work with data graphics by using data that is stored in the diagram and discover the amazing ways you can visualize data by using Visio 2016.

This chapter guides you through procedures related to enhancing diagram effectiveness, creating and applying data graphics, editing data graphics, and creating data graphic legends.

Enhance diagram effectiveness

A person using a Visio diagram that you created can learn a lot about the subject of the diagram based on your choice of shapes, their positions on the page, the way they are connected, and many additional visual cues. The five sections in this topic demonstrate the power of data visualization to tell even more of the story.

View network and datacenter performance

Chapter 7, “Create network and datacenter diagrams” contains several hints about the data available in computer, network, and rack diagram shapes. This section explores techniques you can use to capitalize on the data that is included in the Visio network shapes.

The diagrams in this section might be used in a scenario such as the following:

  • You are a datacenter manager and have created rack diagrams for each rack in your computer room.
  • You’ve populated your diagrams with data.
  • Each rack-mounted server includes the data fields shown in Figure 9-1. (The values shown in this figure will be visualized in the next two figures.)

    Figure 9-1

    Figure 9-1 Sample server data

You can visualize data like that shown in Figure 9-1 by using Visio data graphics to turn an ordinary rack diagram into a powerful means to understand server attributes. In Figure 9-2, several data graphics are applied to the servers in an equipment rack to highlight the following:

  • Server name and type (left)
  • Server status (center)
  • CPU and memory configuration (right)

    Figure 9-2

    Figure 9-2 A rack diagram showing server status and vital statistics

Figure 9-3 shows the same equipment rack, but it uses different data graphics to highlight different information. In this version of the rack diagram, you find the following:

  • Server name and IP address (left)
  • Server status (center) shown by applying a fill color to the servers instead of attaching a status icon.
  • Operating system name (right)

    Figure 9-3

    Figure 9-3 Alternate visualizations provide different information

Part of the appeal of data graphics is represented by these two examples—you can apply different graphics at different times depending on what you need to know.

Improve processes

In this example, data graphics are applied to process steps in a swimlane diagram for two reasons: to number each process step (the number appears above the upper-right corner of each shape), and to show several process quality measurements. The information in Figure 9-4 includes the following:

  • The average duration of each step, in days, is shown in a progress bar across the bottom of each task shape.
  • A warning icon appears in the lower-left corner of a shape if a step is taking 5 to 9 days or 10 or more days.
  • The shape color indicates whether a step is improving or being investigated.

    Figure 9-4

    Figure 9-4 A process diagram that displays data-driven graphics

The symbolism used for each of these metrics is explained in the data graphic legend that appears in the upper-right corner of the page. You will learn more about legends in “Create data graphic legends” later in this chapter.

Manage casino operations

Figure 9-5 illustrates the types of near-real-time information that a casino manager might view in Visio, with a goal of monitoring critical operations. In all likelihood, your job doesn’t involve managing a casino, but you can probably think of important operations that you do need to monitor.

Figure 9-5

Figure 9-5 A casino manager’s view of a blackjack table

In the graphic, text callouts highlight each bettor’s recent history, including current dollar standing, average bet, and number of blackjacks. In addition, a red or green arrow represents how each player is trending.

Manage employee performance

The organization chart in Figure 9-6 looks like those you explored in Chapter 5, “Create organization charts,” with one notable exception: Trey Research has turned this org chart into more than just a picture of who reports to whom by including two key performance measures:

  • Each employee’s progress toward their annual training goal is depicted by an icon containing a combination of blue and gray squares.
  • The three red manager shapes include a bar graph displaying quarterly performance numbers. Note that the bar graph is a single graphic item that contrasts data from four different shape data fields.
Figure 9-6

Figure 9-6 An org chart enhanced with employee performance data

The legend in the upper-right corner of the page is automatically generated by Visio; however, you can customize the text and other aspects of the legend. In this example, the descriptions were customized and the font color was changed.

Assess risks

In the example shown in Figure 9-7, you are viewing part of a process map that was created by using a Visio add-in called TaskMap (

Figure 9-7

Figure 9-7 A TaskMap process map used to convey risk and time threshold data

This portion of the TaskMap shows three tasks in the middle of a sales proposal process, and data graphics depict the following two aspects of risk management:

  • Yellow triangles and green diamonds identify risks and controls, respectively. The number in each risk triangle relates to an entry in a master list of risks. The number in each diamond identifies the control that the organization has put in place to mitigate the risk. (An organization might maintain the master list of risks and controls in something as simple as a worksheet, or they might employ a formal risk management system.)

    In a task like the one in the center, the organization has identified a risk but not a control, so the risk is more significant.

  • The red arrows highlight tasks that exceed a defined time threshold—30 minutes in the case of this example.

Figure 9-7 also includes a third data graphic: two of the three tasks display a red diamond to indicate that they are decision points in the process.

The examples in this section highlight the importance of the data behind a diagram and suggest a variety of creative ways you can add value to diagrams that contain data.