There are several persistent issues that I’ve found in my many years in this industry.  Some are big requiring major solutions and others are tiny nuisances.  I’m pretty passionate about moving our industry forward and love when I find a product or service that pushes our boundaries.  So, I want to start talking more about these solutions.

Since I have no stake in any company right now, I will begin reviewing the tools that I’ve loved using over the years. There are a number of great tools out there, so I’m going to start a mini-series here on the blog. The first three issues that I will tackle are:

  • Graph population
  • Text analytics
  • Basic data analysis

I’m open to covering other topics if you submit some in the comments. However, we’ll start today with graph population. So, here is my unbiased opinion about a tool that I started using about 6 months ago:

1) E-tabs Graphique

Challenge: Have you ever been stuck manually entering numbers into PPT graphs? At some point, we’ve all been there.  And if you’re like me, you were probably wondering – “why the hell can’t we find a better way to do this?”

Solution: I have seen several solutions to graph population in the past. Some are too cumbersome for one-off projects and others are too expensive to be worthwhile unless you are populating 10 reports per week (which I hope I never am). E-tabs’ Graphique is the first one I’ve seen that is both flexible and cost-effective, but the greatest part about Graphique is the support, which I’ll talk more about later.

Capabilities: Graphique allows you to connect any set of banner tabs with a PPT graph. You can quickly specify where the graph should find the data, and it will autopopulate the data for you. Have to rerun the data for some reason? No problem, just refresh the graph. It will even populate the significance for you.

Drawbacks: You can’t learn Graphique overnight. It’s still a fairly complex tool with more capabilities than you may need.  As such, I wouldn’t be surprised if you started working with Graphique and decided after a day that it is not actually faster than making graphs by hand.  But, stay strong!  Once you learn its intricacies, your learning curve will flatten out, and you will begin to recognize its true value.

Bonus: Graphique has an amazing support team. Not only do they answer their phones, but they will help you learn with the software. They are also extremely responsive to suggestions, and will incorporate those into the next release.