Guus Meuldijk

Meeting standards: SAP Analytics Cloud as an IBCS® certified solution

One of the most important things when making reports is consistency. Not only consistency by an individual creator, but by all, together. It does not make sense if different reports are structured in different ways and the same KPIs are visualized differently. This misalignment will only form an obstacle to focus on and understand the actual data within a report.

It is therefore of great importance to setup standards and guidelines for data visualizations within a company. IBCS® took it even a step further. Their goal is to set visualization and notation standards across companies over the globe. So no matter where you are, or what report you are looking at, or by whom it has been made, the design and meaning will be the same.

But what does this entail? What is IBCS®?

IBCS® stands for International Business Communication Standards. These standards focus on the conception of the content, the visual perception and the semantic unification. To make this more tangible, there are 7 key principle, the SUCCESS formula, required to meet the IBCS® standard:

S AY – Convey a message

U NIFY – Apply semantic notation

C ONDENSE – Increase information density

C HECK – Ensure visual integrity

E XPRESS – Choose proper visualization

S IMPLIFY – Avoid clutter

S TRUCTURE – Organize content

These 7 key principles can be divided in 3 areas:

  • Conceptual rules: Using an appropriate storyline by following a logical structure and making it clear what the report is intended to say

  • Perceptual rules: Choosing the appropriate visual design

  • Semantic rules: Using a uniform notation for e.g. titles, formats for dates and numbers, axis, highlighting indicators, etc.

Below an example of a visualization that complies to the IBCS® standards

How does this fit into the SAP world?

As a SAP BI Consultant, you’re daily involved with using standards and guidelines. For the SAP BusinessObjects tools Dashboards and Lumira Designer, the extension of Graphomate is available to easily make visualizations that comply with the Standards proposed by the IBCS® Association.

But as you know, rarely just one specific tool is used within a company for report creation, as different tools meet different business requirements. And as such is the case, it should be possible to meet the IBCS® standards no matter what tool you use, otherwise you’ll check the inconsistency box again.

As McCoy & Partners is greatly involved with SAP Analytics Cloud and simplification, it was very welcoming to see SAC became an IBCS® certified solution as well, enabling you to apply your data visualizations standards anywhere.


In the upcoming weeks more blogs will be released on data visualization standards and best practices, including a deep dive into IBCS® in SAC.

Additionally, on the 28th of March we will be hosting a webinar by Jacob Stark (Director, SAP Cloud Analytics Product Management) on best practices in data visualizations. Register for our event here.

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