Simple Variance Report with a Forecast
Follow along with this guide
Creating a simple variance chart and selecting the right type
You need three measures: your actual sales to date (September in this case), your sales plan for the year and your sales forecast for the remainder of the year.
Insert a new Zebra BI Charts custom visual and simply drag the following measure into the corresponding fields in your visualization properties:
- Drag actual sales to date to the Values field
- Drag the sales plan to the Plan field to tell the visual that these are planned values
This gives you a chart with actual values and variances. Each bar represents an actual value (dark grey) and the variance (red or green bar) compared to plan.
Use a column chart if you have a small number of categories, such as 6 to 12 months. When working with a larger number of data points, like a weekly time series or multiple years, you should use an area chart or a line chart with highlighted differences.
Tip: Click on variance values to show relative or absolute variance or both at the same time.
Tip: In the area chart, you can even remove the grey area by setting opacity to zero to just view the variances.
Adding a forecast
Adding forecasts is easy - you just drop the forecast values from your model to the Forecasts segment and Zebra BI will do the rest.
Forecast values are shown differently to distinguish from other values.
Again, you can change the visualization type by clicking on the arrows at the side of the visuals.
A waterfall chart is a good choice for reviewing this type of data - it shows totals, the budget, and forecasts with variances. The waterfall chart is particularly well suited for this purpose because it shows how individual values contribute to the end result.
💡 Tip: You can cut off the axis in a waterfall chart by simply clicking on one of the total columns. However, you should note that this might make monthly contributions seem larger than they really are.