On day 3 of using Symphony I decided to do the same reporting task in excel that I just completed a few days ago for management. Basically it was a comparison of the number of users utilizing our Enterprise Single Sign-On product per application as compared to previous months since deployment.
In Excel, I can get the job done in ten minutes, including the creation of a fancy chart my managers drool over. In this scenario, the data is gathered and the only thing I have to do is create the fancy chart. I will be honest, I anticipated this to be an extremely easy task. A simple 3D vertical bar graph showing May, June and July users per applications.
My first try, I attempted to create a simple, non 3D graph. This worked, although right from the start I had to modify the X Axis character and font and rotate it 90 degrees to be able to fit the application title in. Excel automatically did this for me. I found it strange that the font size was a whopping 16 in Symphony. That font size would never work in any chart I have done except for the title and maybe the legend.
I also wanted to see how customizable this basic chart was. It took a lot of playing around, and even after an hour, I am no closer to figuring out the spacing between my bars. Bringing reinforcements into my cube, a guy I work with who is VERY knowledgeable in Office and excel and we worked hard just to change some basic things such as spacing out the X axis legend from the chart itself, by default, the words are squeezed up to the bottom of the chart which is horrible. Two hours later, we still know less about customizing a basic chart than we should. Score a point for Excel for ease of use.
Moving to a much fancier chart (3D) we were even more confused. The chart drawn out should look decent, and the customization should be easy. It was not. This was extremely disappointing to me because even after a few hours of banging my head on the wall I am no closer to reproducing my excel chart in Symphony with even acceptable responses. I am sure it is just user training that I need, but part of any migration for users to this product should not require days of training. If there was a show stopper for an application on my desk, this might be it. I need to be able to create charts, manipulate them with ease, with little or no help from the outside world. Symphony fails to achieve this.
More next week after the July 4th break on the functionality of the document writer as compared to word.
UPDATE: After a few more hours of playing, I have figured out how to manipulate the graph to look like I want in 2D. 3D has limitations and the amount of data along the X axis determines whether the graph is possible or not, actually more like pleasing to the eye or a jumbled mess. Clearly, the functionality exits in Symphony, it is just a matter of patience and changing the way you operate, which is normal when using a new software system.
As for math formulas, creating complex multi-page spreadsheets I see no difference in ease of use between the offerings. I rather like Symphony over Excel for these functions, and doing a budget was easier via Symphony than Excel.