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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 multiple 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 article will walk you through how to create this period-over-period line chart. This is an intermediate walkthrough, for users who have completed Discovery training or have completed a few of the beginner chart examples.

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:

Example Chart Design Area 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 go into edit mode.
  2. On the Charts tab: drag and drop LineChart.pngLine chart to the main design area.
  3. On the Accounts tab: Drag and drop the revenue account to the line chart and re-add the same account two more times.
    Example: 4000 Revenue, a rollup GL account

Set Up Time for the Chart

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

  • Time on the chart: The default time granularity, span and range set on the chart using 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 similar to the following:

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

  1. On the Time Settings tab: Change Granularity to Quarter
    1. Verify that Span is Range and Span Type is Absolute. Update as needed.
    2. Verify that the To/From is Q1 through Q4 for the current year. Update as needed.
  2. On the Data Settings tab, configure the first revenue account:
    1. Name: 2017 Revenue
    2. Color (data series): Change as needed
    3. Time Alignment: Current (this is the default; no change required).
  3. Configure the second revenue account:
    1. Name 2016 Revenue
    2. Color (data series): Change as needed
    3. Time Alignment: Previous
    4. Offset Count: 4
  4. Configure the third revenue account:
    1. Name 2015 Revenue
    2. Color (data series): Change as needed
    3. Time Alignment: Previous
    4. Offset Count: 8

Verifying the setup. How do you know if you configured the time alignment correctly? Go to View mode and hover over each data point for each data series. For example, Q3 2015, Q3 2016, and Q3 2017 must align on the x-axis for Q3.

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. On the Appearance tab, give the chart a name: Period-over-period Revenue for 2015-2017
  2. Configure the axis scale:
    1. Primary Axis Autoscaling: Toggle left to turn off
    2. Primary Axis Minimum: 9000000
    3. Primary Axis Maximum: 18000000
    4. Primary Axis Interval: 5000000

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

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