Waterfall chart

A guide on how to use the waterfall chart widget in reports.

Last updated: June 10, 2021

Track changes in your KPIs and look at your revenue, budget, net profit, or other data with a waterfall chart. The waterfall chart is useful for understanding how a starting value develops into an end value through a sequence of positive or negative changes. The waterfall chart in Plecto is highly customizable and offers many configuration options.

There are several ways you can visualize data on a waterfall chart. Add up to 20 KPIs, set a start value, add target formulas, intermediate sums, or drill down your metrics on each KPI by specific parameters. The parameters are based on the fields available in your data source that the formulas are built on.

Note: You can add, edit and create new formulas right from the widget settings.

Waterfall Chart Example

An example of a waterfall chart in reports.

The waterfall chart will show a running total as positive or negative values are added to your data.

  • To observe deviations in your data with positive or negative values, you need to compare your KPIs to either another time period or a target KPI. This will allow you to see direct comparisons between the current data and your targets/past data.
  • You can also enable a start value in the form of a KPI that the other KPIs will be measured up against.

Read more about the start value and comparing options in the sections below.

Tip: If you want a KPI to output a negative value, for example, -500, you can multiply the formula by -1 in the formula editor. This can be useful if you want to subtract KPI values in your waterfall chart without having to add a start value or having to compare the KPI to another time period or a target KPI.

You can add a start value to your waterfall chart which will create a newStart value column on the left side of the chart. The start value represents one formula that the other KPIs are measured up against.

Waterfall Start Value.png

An example of a waterfall chart including a start value.

To add a start value, click on the enable switch in the “Start value” field under “KPIs,” then select a formula from the dropdown list or add a new formula. You can also give the start value column a custom title.

Decide if you want to display the start value from the same time period or a previous period:

  • Selecting the same time period allows you to look at current values. For example, Yearly Budget compared to Actual Revenue.
  • Selecting a previous period allows you to look at the same values for both the current and past periods. For example, Revenue This Year compared to Last Year.

The waterfall chart allows you to compare data to none, another time period, or a target KPI.

  • Compare to none

If the comparing option is set to “None,” it allows you to drill down your metrics for each added KPI, but you will not be able to add a target KPI.

  • Compare to another time period

If you compare to another time period, the comparing options will depend on the selected time period on the widget. For example, if you display data for the current month, the widget will allow you to compare data to the same month last year. If you display data for the current week, the widget will allow you to compare data to the same week last month, etc.

  • Compare to a target KPI

This option enables you to add a target formula to your KPIs. If selected, it will add a column called “Start value” on the left side of the chart and require selecting a target formula for every single KPI that has been added to the waterfall chart. The column will then display a sum of all the selected targets.

You can also rename the start value column to better fit what your waterfall chart intends to represent. To do so, toggle the “Start value” field under “KPIs” in widget settings and type in the new title.

Waterfall Chart Example 3

An example of KPI settings and where to add a target formula.

The waterfall chart allows you to group data by Time or by KPIs.

  • Time: grouping by time will display your selected KPIs on a timely basis, depending on the selected time period. For example, if you look at data from the previous 3 months, the widget will allow you to select between a daily, weekly, or monthly grouping. If you look at data from the current year, the widget will allow you to group data monthly, quarterly, or annually. If your chart contains multiple KPIs, they will be stacked.
Waterfall Group By Time

An example of a waterfall chart displaying data of a single KPI over the previous 3 months, grouped monthly.

Note: If you add more than one KPI to the widget and select to group your data by time, the drilldown option will be disabled for all added KPIs. Alternatively, if you only have one KPI on the widget that is grouped by time, you can still select to drill down the data.

  • KPIs: grouping by KPIs enables you to look at one column per KPI, or if you have selected any drilldowns - one column per drilldown. The widget will display as many columns as the number of KPIs or drilldowns you have added to it. Grouping data by KPIs allows you to select drilldowns for each of the added KPIs.
Waterfall Group By KPIs

An example of a waterfall chart displaying two KPIs for retail sales where one is drilled down to show data for each country.

Note: If the comparing option “Compare to” is set to “Target KPI,” then grouping is disabled. The widget will automatically display your data grouped by KPIs.

See subtotals and get a good overview of your data with intermediate sums. To add an intermediate sum:

  • Enable the “Edit” option in the upper-right corner of your widget.
  • Scroll down to the “Intermediate sum” section in the settings bar.
  • Click on “+ Add intermediate sum,” then select “Position after” > [KPI of your choice].

It will insert an intermediate sum column in the chart and display the sum of the KPIs to its left. This can be very useful when displaying gross vs. net values, EBITDA, quarterly overviews, etc.

Waterfall Chart Example

An example of a waterfall chart displaying an intermediate sum: “Total Sales.”

Note: You can add several intermediate sums to the chart. Each intermediate sum will display data from the KPIs standing on their left side, and they will take into consideration only the KPIs that are standing between the intermediate sums.

You can decide how to filter the data. If you want to see all data, select “Filter data by > All.” If you want to see data from specific teams or employees, select either the “Teams” or “Employees” option and add the teams or employees from the list.

Reports - Waterfall - Filter by Employee

An example of sales KPI filtered by employees.

Customize your waterfall widget! When editing, go to “Customize” in the upper-right corner. From there, you can change the axes' titles, add difference arrows, level arrows, enable data labels, and more.

Read more: Plecto offers 8 different widgets in reports. Click here to find articles on all the available widget types.

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