Visual Aid

Abstract:Audits are useful methods to evaluate whether or not a system is working the way it should, but often times, understanding the results of an audit can be tricky. Auditors will often share their conclusions and steps to improve a system or process, but if this information is not conveyed in a comprehensible way, auditees can become defensive. However, audit results can be converted into statistical maps that will visually demonstrate the performance of a system or process against best practices. This method can also be used to tangibly see areas that need improvement and steps that can be taken to make those …

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Radar charts like this are excellent when using them to compare supplier audit results, such as when evaluating/comparing audit results during a supplier selection process. I would like a copy of the Audit sheet that creates these radar charts. Thanks!
--Gene Climer, 10-16-2017

How can I get this tool to try?
--George Harris, 10-11-2017

EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT resource - researching further so we can implement this for the new year. Thanks!
--Heather, 10-09-2017

I agree with the author’s concept and intent of categorizing audit findings, ranking them, and communicating them. However, I don’t agree with the efficacy and the claimed benefits of the tool. Using radar graphs is sub-optimal; calling them “statistical maps” is inaccurate. Actually, there is little good reason to use radar graphs at all—-except for novelty, or in certain special cases such as data with polar coordinates or clock values. In fact, radar graphs have several disadvantages, including:
• Difficult to compare values across categories
• Difficult to discern trends between data points (why connect them?)
• Labeling of categories is awkward
• Shape of graph depends on number of categories
• Graph takes up more space than alternative methods
Further, in this particular case, the goal values (“Desired results”) displayed as bold red squares and lines overpower the actual data values.

Horizontal bar graphs are superior for visually communicating the same information. The bars can be easily ordered as a Pareto. The category labels would be in a simple column next to the vertical axis. The goal could be displayed simply as a subtle line. The graphs can be legibly packed into a compact space.

This is not the first time radar graphs have been promoted in QP and probably won’t be the last. It’s fair to question the practice when there’s a better way.

[This topic has been debated by data visualization experts. For reference, here’s an article from one of them, Stephen Few:]
--F Nagy, 10-06-2017

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