Configuring columns for Comparison cards

Personalise your Charts and make them beautiful with our guide on setting default and individual Chart Types, and choosing what displays on a Graph

Written by Rob Guard

Comparison cards allow you to compare actuals, budgets and forecasts. Used properly there’s a lot of insight you can gain. We’re going to look at:

  • Setting up comparison columns
  • Setting custom column names
  • Comparing a actuals vs budget and forecast of the same scenario

Setting Up

There’s a lot of flexibility in comparison cards. By default all new comparison cards will automatically give you a year vs year comparison.

This is a great starting point for comparing our performance vs the same period last year, but maybe we’re looking to compare our performance to our budget we set at the beginning of the year. Selecting ‘column 1’ and choosing actual data will enable column 2 so we can select our budget from the list of scenarios.

We can switch our columns over too by simply selecting budget for column 1 and actuals for column 2. Once we’ve selected a scenario for either column we’ll also get the option to control what actuals we bring into the calculations. Usually you’ll want to leave this as never – show forecast data only, but if you want to compare future periods to an up to date forecast you’ll want to set this to until the end of last period.

Other options in this list will be automatically created based on the length of your scenario and the date range in your report. A period in your report can only be actual or forecast data, so you’ll be given all the valid options for whole period in your report that can be actual.

Custom Names

Our scenarios aren’t always called something nice a short like ‘budget’ or ‘forecast’. More often than not you might have several versions of the same scenario; or different future scenarios, so with a name like ‘forecast 2017-2018 including new office and staff’ we might not get ideal column titles or chart legends.

When you’ve selected a scenario in at least one column, both columns will allow you to specify a custom column name, for example:

This makes our table and chart alot cleaner to read!

 

Actual vs Budget vs Forecast Comparison

Being able to compare actuals vs budget and budget vs forecast is great – but it can all be done in one! We’re going to setup a comparison card to compare our scenario to itself, and setup actuals to be included so we can get maximum insight for minimum fuss!

Creating a new comparison card we’re going to add the same budget to both columns. We’re going to setup the second column to be our forecast, so we’ll set our actuals to be included until end of last period and call this column forecast. Leave column 1 settings as is – setting the column name to budget if your scenario has a long name.

 

Now, flip the card over and prepare for enlightenment! Let’s take a quick look first, before fully understanding what we’re seeing.

  • Our last actual period in this report is may 2017
  • April and may are displaying our original budget vs actual performance.
    • We can see we were down in april, and again in may
  • June, july, august and september are comparing our original budget vs our new forecast budget, which is based up on actual performance to date.
    • At the end of this period, we know our forecast income position is due to be just over 70k down on our original budget, due to performance earlier in the the year.

Knowing how to create a solid budget and forecast is half the battle, being able to take actual performance into consideration and compare our budgeted end of year position to our revised forecast end of year allows us to predictably rebudget for the future, and understand where we’ll be starting next year from.