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Create a Period-over-period Chart

Explains how to create a period-over-period line chart by setting time alignment on several - same account data series.

Period-over-period charts can show you how your business is performing in the current period compared to previous periods. For example, 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.

You can create a period-over-period chart by:

  • Applying the same data series (account) multiple times to the chart.
  • Setting up each data series with a time alignment that renders data for a specific period.

The following is an example of 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 example uses the default version Working Budget 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 Line Chart

You will add the same data series multiple times to a line chart. The following is an example of a line chart you will create, where the revenue account was added three times:

Line Chart Design After Adding Three Instances of the Same Account

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 Disc-Edit.png to go into 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 re-add the same account two more times.

Set Up Time

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

  • Time on the chart: The default time period, span and range set on the chart using the Time Settings tab.
  • Time alignment on each data series: On the Data Settings tab, this setting determines if data is based on the current period (default time settings on the chart), or on a previous period or next period offset.

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
    • Span Type is Absolute.
    • To and From is Q1 through Q4 for the current year.

Set up Time Alignment on Each Data Series

  1. Click Disc-DataSettings.png to change the data setting of the accounts.
  2. Expand the first revenue account and change the following to visualize data for the current year:
    • Name: 2017 Revenue.
    • Version: From version selector (This gets data from the default version, Working Budget. No change required)
    • 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):
    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. Verify the setup. How do you know if you configured the time alignment correctly? Check the x-axis. Each time series must visualize data for the same quarter but different years.

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

Fine-tune the Chart

This is an option step. You can change the appearance of the chart by providing a chart title and manually setting the axis scale.

When manually setting the axis scale, minimum and maximum values will vary based on the account you choose for the analysis and the data values in your instance. Experiment with manual scale to get the results you desire.

  1. If you verified the time alignment in View mode, click Edit Icon to continue editing the chart settings.
  2. Click Appearance Settings Tab to change the chart name: Period-over-period Revenue for 2015-2017
  3. Manually set the axis scale. Toggle off the Primary Axis Autoscaling and set the following to get your desired results:
    1. Primary Axis Minimum: 6000000
    2. Primary Axis Maximum: 23000000
    3. Primary Axis Interval: 10000000

This complete the steps for creating a period-over-period chart. 

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