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Time Alignment

Describes time alignment data setting in Discovery and provides usage examples.

Time alignment let's you set a relative time for a data series as the current period, or as a past or future period. All data series added to a chart have time alignment set to Current by default. Time alignment is a good option when you want to compare same data series with prior or future periods.

Two time settings work together to determine the data sets evaluated in a chart:

  • Time on the chart: The default time granularity, span and range set on the chart using the Time Settings tab.
  • Time alignment on a data series (account): The time on each data series is based on the current (default time set on the chart), or a previous period or next period offset. You set time alignment from the Data Settings tab.

Usage Examples

The following are a few time alignment usage examples:

Scenario Default Time Period on Chart Time Alignment on Data Series
A chart that compares quarterly revenue of the current year to quarterly revenue of the previous year Granularity: quarter
Span: Range
To-From: January 2017 - December 2017
  • First revenue data series: Current 
  • Second revenue data series: Previous, 4-month offset
A chart that compares waiter staff for the current winter season to the previous year and  to a forecast for next year. Granularity: Month
Span: Range
To-From: November 2016 - March 2017
  • First headcount data series: Current
  • Second revenue data series: Previous, 12-month offset
  • Third headcount data series: Next, 12-month offset

Time on the X-axis

When a chart has multiple data series with different time alignments, the first account listed in the Data Settings tab determines the time display in the x-axis. You can control the time slice that displays on the x-axis by reordering the accounts. Reordering accounts do not change the data sets evaluated.

Suppose that you have a chart that evaluates quarterly revenue by comparing the current period (2017) with two prior periods. The time alignment on the first data series is set to current, which sets the x-axis to the default time period. In this case, 2017 quarters is the base period that you will use to compare prior periods. The time alignment for each of the subsequent data series are the offsets. 

The following example shows the Data Settings pane with three revenue accounts, where:

1 First Revenue data series: Time alignment is Current

2 Second Revenue data series: Time alignment is Previous and Offset is 4

3 Third Revenue data series: Time alignment is Previous and Offset is 8

Example of a Period-over-period Chart where x-axis is Based on an Account with a Current Time Alignment

If you reorder the accounts, such as drag the 2016 Revenue data series to the first position, the x-axis displays quarters for 2016. The data series for each year remains unchanged. Note also that the default time remains Q1-2017 – Q4-2017.

Example of a Period-over-Period Comparison where the x-axis is based on Account with a Previous Time Alignment Offset

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