Waterfall Charts

Waterfall charts are a staple of many management report packs. They are an intuitive way to visualize the cumulative effect of positive and negative contributions to a total, or between two totals. They are particularly common within Finance teams, and can be used to view sections of the account structure for example for Profitability analysis, or to look at contribution to changes over time split by category.

XLCubed v10 introduces data-connected, interactive Waterfall Charts along with a wide range of other Finance-focused chart types. It’s a build and explore model – where the chart highlights something of interest it can be explored further directly from the chart.

Two classic and easy to build examples are shown below.

Contribution analysis on annual revenue change

This takes two points in time and shows the breakdown of the variance between them split by some other aspect of the business, for example by region, by sales manager or by product line. 

 

Waterfall chart

 

In the example above we show the variance in road bike sales from 2018 to 2019, with the annual variances by individual bike types shown between the two totals. It shows exactly how the changes in annual sales breaks down.

In some cases, like the above there may be too many categories to break the variance down by, and we may prefer to see the main elements contributing to the change, and everything else grouped as ‘Others’. It’s easy to achieve that by applying an Outlier Grouping Ranking. In the example below we are showing the top 10 by absolute variance, and grouping everything else for a clearer picture of the key drivers of the annual change.

 

Waterfall chart showing top 10 contributors with others grouping

 

From Revenue to Operating Profit

Here we focus on the Chart of Accounts, and on the contributing elements as we move from Revenue to Operating Profit. We can simply select the elements we’d like to view, and flag any which need to be displayed as subtotals, in this case Gross Profit.

 

Bar waterfall with subtotals

 

The above view is at group level. To see that split by subsidiary, since it’s a dynamic and data connected chart we can simply drill the chart to show the next level of the organization structure.

Waterfall chart drilled

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