Why should I use a waterfall chart?

A waterfall chart is a great tool for pinpointing: 

  • any particularly strong/weak months heavily impacting the company’s profits
  • any specific categories/products that significantly drove sales or margins

Let’s have a practical example! I’m going to use the Tableau EU Superstore sample dataset to

Track monthly financial performance

So what can we see from the chart above?

  1. The company has been continuously profitable for the past 2 years
  2. November 2016, August 2017 and September 2017 were particularly strong

Now this makes me wonder – what drove such strong performance in these months? So, I drill down to the segments that make up the financial performance for this month by employing the viz in tooltip functionality

Drilling down to product category performance

It looks like it was down to the “Consumer” and “Corporate” segments, so I go about investigating if a given product category was particularly strong in these segments..

Voila!

To keep it short and sweet – a waterfall chart allows you to effectively track the positive and negative changes to a given starting quantity, as well as the resulting end value.

As such, it can be particularly useful to all of you involved in financial analysis or HR metrics

Stay tuned to find out how to build it in Tableau!

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