Drill-Through’s: Best Practices and Use Cases Q&A

We’re keen to share use cases and best practice from around the ZAP user community. So we sat down this month with one of our UK consultants, Timothy Percival to hear about the value of a ZAP Data Hub feature he’s been working with on various recent installations: drill-throughs. 


So – drill-throughs…  Can you bring us into this world from a wide angle?

Sure.  Think of a classic starting point for any business using BI, a sales report. They want a brand new report, covering sales invoices. They’ve got some invoices, they have a sales team that’s been selling, and we want to see the quantity of products they have sold. You might then want to ask, what quantity have been sold every month? And you might want to break it down by day. So, for example, what quantity was sold in September across each day?


Sounds great, but that’s surely going to generate a ton of data?

Yes, the above scenario gives you a load of figures, but it doesn’t quite mean anything yet. That is until you double-click on any daily figure to get your breakdowns of those transactions. If we were to double click on a particular day’s transactions, you might be able to generate a list of almost 50 attributes around that one day’s sales figure.  Every single bit of data you could ever want – which won’t get you anywhere nearer to business insight. More like data overload!


So how does ZAP Data Hub help in a situation like this?

What we have is a really nice ability to create a drill through target. So when you drill through, instead of going through a generic ad hoc data dump, you can actually drill through to a very specific report – or a specific piece of knowledge. For example breaking down a day’s sales by customer, manufacturer, distributor and so on.


What does this give you in practice?

Instead of having all these columns – 50 bits of data for one day’s sales! – you’ll just have the customer, the date a transaction happened, and the document type (whether it’s a credit or not). You can save this as a very specific version of the data called a ‘new drill through’. Then, instead of drilling through on the raw, top-level generic data, you can be checking your ‘new drill through’ there and then. You end up with a really tidy view of all of your data. In this example: customer, date, all your numbers you care about.


And how is this of use to all our users?

Well the reason this is good is because, instead of ZAP being treated like a technical product where you’re dealing layers and layers of numbers, instead you can actually create a much more user-friendly view of all your data. It also allows you to keep all your stakeholders and BI end users within one interface – IE working from a single source of truth – as opposed to having lots of different people exporting all sorts of different subsets of data to Excel, simply because it’s too hard to read from the main source.


Are there any other benefits?

Yes, because you don’t only drill through to transactional level, you can a drill through as a navigation tool. For example from one dashboard to another dashboard. Instead of just looking at your transactional list, you could actually click to open up your entire customer dashboard of everything a particular customer has ever done. The overall upshot is that you’re using BI not to create individual reports that stand alone but to create an infrastructure, a whole environment of reporting and analysis.

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