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Create a Period-over-period Chart

Explains how to create a period-over-period line chart using the Discovery new user interface.

Period-over-period charts can show you how your business is performing in one period compared to other periods. A period-over-period chart can help you visualize any cyclical trends in your business. Column, line, and area charts work best for creating period-over-period charts.

The walkthrough will explain how to create two period-over-period charts:

  • Add the same data series (account) several times to the chart.
  • Set up one chart that is pinned to time and another that is unpinned.
  • Set up each data series with a time alignment that shows data for a specific period.

A period-over-period chart uses these time elements:

  • Perspective Context: The default period. This time setting is more important for unpinned time.
  • Time on the chart: The period, range or single period, using the Time Settings tab.
  • Time alignment on each data series: Set the time as current, previous, or next and choose an offset using the Data Settings tab.

The following is a period-over-period line chart that visualizes quarterly revenue for the current period compared to two previous periods.

Example of a Period-over-Period Line Chart That Compares Quarterly Revenue for 2015, 2016, and 2017

This walkthrough uses the default version Working Budget , Perspective Context December 2017, and a General Ledger account Revenue.

Your versions and data sources may be different than the ones illustrated in this example.

See Area and Line Chart Settings for options and descriptions.

Create a Chart with Pinned Time

Suppose that you want chart that is pinned (or fixed) to the period set up in the chart.  You want to compare each quarter in the current year to each quarter in the prior tow years. You will add the same data series multiple times to a line chart using relative periods.

After completing this step, the chart will look like:

Each data series is set by default to the current time alignment. Initially each data series is aligned on top of each other – giving the appearance of only one data series.

  1. Create a dashboard and click Edit icon to go into edit mode.

Line Chart After Adding 3 Data Series Using the Same Account

  1. On the left panel, click Chart tab to choose a chart. Drag and drop Line Chart Icon to the design area to create a line chart.
  2. Click Accounts Tab to choose an account. Drag and drop the revenue account to the line chart and re-add the same account two more times.

Set Up  Time

You will set time for the chart to show data by quarter for a time range from January to December of the current year. You will set the time alignment on each data series to create the period-over-period alignment. After completing these steps, the chart will look like:

Example of Line Chart with Three Revenue Account Time Aligned by Quarter for 2017, 2016, and 2015

Set up Time on the Chart

  1. In the right panel, click Time Settings Tab to set the time for the chart. Change Stratum to Quarter. Review and update the following as needed:
    • Span is Range
    • Pin time by clicking Pinned Icon(blue indicates pinned) and choose Q1 through Q4 for the current year.

Set up Time Alignment on Each Data Series

  1. Click Data Settings icon to change the data setting of the accounts.
  2. Expand the first revenue data series and change the following to visualize data for the current year:
    • Name: 2017 Revenue.
    • Version: From version selector (No change required. This gets data from the default version, Working Budget. )
    • Color: Optionally change to match your branding.
    • Time Alignment: Current (This is the default. No change required).
    • Keep the defaults for other settings.
  3. Expand the second revenue account and change the following to visualize data for the prior year (an offset of 4 quarters):
    Time Alignment Settings for a Revenue Data Series
    1. Name 2016 Revenue.
    2. Color: Optionally change.
    3. Time Alignment: Previous
    4. Offset Count: 4. Sets the time alignment back 4 quarters based on the time settings on chart and visualizes data on this series starting at Q1 of the previous year.
    5. Keep the defaults for the other settings.
  4. Expand the third revenue account and change the following to visualize data for two years prior (an offset of 8 quarters):
    1. Name: 2015 Revenue.
    2. Color: Optionally change.
    3. Time Alignment: Previous
    4. Offset Count: 8. Sets the time alignment back 8 quarters and visualizes data on this series starting at Q1 two years prior.
    5. Keep the defaults for other settings.
  5. Optional. Verify the setup in View mode.  Click Done icon. Hover your mouse over each data point for a period on the x-axis. All data points should be aligned to the same quarter, but different years.

Chart in View Mode with Q2 Data Points in Alignment for 2017 and 2016

Create a Chart with Unpinned Time

Suppose that you want a period-over-period chart that moves relative to the current period set up as a perspective context. You want to compare the last 6 months of the current year with the same period a year ago – without having to change time settings in the chart. During your presentation, you want to shift the time period to the future to look at forecasts.

You will add the same data series twice to a line chart. After completing these steps, the chart will look like:

Line Chart with Two Same Data Series

  1. Click Edit icon if you are not already in edit mode.
  2. On the left panel, click Chart tab to choose a chart. Drag and drop Line Chart Icon to the design area to create a line chart.
  3. Click Accounts Tab to choose an account. Drag and drop the revenue account to the line chart and add the same account one more time.
  4. In the right panel, click Appearance Tab and change the name to: 6 Month Revenue - Year over Year Comparison

Set up Time

You will set time for the chart to show data by month for an unpinned time range from 5 months prior to the current month. You will set the time alignment on each data series to create the period-over-period alignment. After completing these steps, the chart will look like:

Line Chart After Setting Up Data Series Time Alignment

Set up Time on the Chart

  1. In the right panel, click Time Settings Tab to set the time for the chart. Change Stratum to Month and do the following:
    Unpinned Time Settings on a Chart
    • Span is Range
    • Unpin time by clicking disc-unpinnedIcon.png(gray indicates unpinned)
    • Start of the range choose: Backwards 5 months from the current period (in this example, December 2017)
    • End of range is Current (no change required)

Set up Time Alignment on Each Data Series

  1. Click Data Settings icon to change the data setting of the accounts.
  2. Expand the first revenue data series and change the following to visualize data for the current year:
    • Name: Current Revenue.
    • Version: From version selector (No change required. This gets data from the default version, Working Budget. )
    • Color: Optionally change to match your branding.
    • Time Alignment: Current (This is the default. No change required).
    • Keep the defaults for other settings.
  3. Expand the second revenue account and change the following to visualize data for the prior year (an offset of 12 months):
    Data Series Settings to Align Time One Year Prior
    1. Name Prior Revenue.
    2. Color: Optionally change.
    3. Time Alignment: Previous
    4. Offset Count: 12. Sets the time alignment back 12 months based on the time settings on the chart and shows data on this series starting 18 months prior to the current year.
    5. Keep the defaults for the other settings.
  4. Optional. Verify the setup in View mode. All data points should be aligned to the same month, but different years.

Shift Time Temporarily for Ad-hoc Analysis

You can shift time on an unpinned chart when in view mode or edit mode to visualize data for another period. Suppose that during a presentation, you want to show revenue for the next 6 months compared to the current period.

In this step, you will switch to presentation mode and change the Perspective Context time to another period. After completing these steps, you will have a presentation that looks like:

Presentation of Period-over-Period Chart Shifted 6 Months into Future

This step assumes that your version has data entered for future periods.

  1. Click Done icon to switch from editing to viewing.
  2. Click Presentation icon to view the chart as a presentation.
  3. Expand Perspective Context time and choose a period 6 months into the future: June 2018

Perspective Context Time Shift to a Future Period

The data in the chart shifts 6 months on both data series.

This completes this walkthrough.

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