11. Waterfall Charts in Power BI

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A waterfall chart can be used to analyse the components of a larger field. In this lesson, we’ll use this chart to analyze the contribution made by cities to revenue at a state level.


Waterfall Charts

  • The waterfall chart is used to track individual components of a larger whole
  • If used as a time series chart, waterfall charts can provide a method of analyzing running totals
  • It can be particularly effective when used with fields such as profit, which can have positive and negative values


In this lesson, we'll look at waterfall charts.

Waterfall charts are particularly useful for tracking the growth and decline of a variable over time, or for analyzing the contribution of individual components to a field.

We'll create a waterfall chart by selecting the icon from the visualizations pane.

As we can see, there are four parameters that we can set for this specific chart.

The y-axis is the field we want to track, which in this case is revenue.

The category is the field we want to track revenue over. Since waterfall charts are usually used in time intelligence, we'll put date into the category well.

Next, we'll select the two branch arrows twice to expand this chart down to the monthly level.

We can now see that each month is represented by a bar, and each bar builds up to create the total bar on the right. We can use this chart to see each month's contribution to total revenue.

While there are slight variations in revenue by month, the range of revenue is rather small.

For example, we can see that revenue in May seems to be larger than the months of April or June, but not by much.

Waterfall charts are often used with fields that can be positive or negative, such as profit. In these cases, a waterfall chart offers an easy to understand view of the rise and fall of profit levels over time.

Let's use a waterfall chart to gain insight into our data set.

We'll remove the date field from the category well, and replace it with our location hierarchy.

Our chart now shows the contribution of each region to our total revenue.

Since we've used a hierarchy, we can move down through the levels and see that the waterfall chart adjusts accordingly.

As before, we'll use the branch arrows to expand down through the hierarchy.

When we reach the state level, this chart clearly becomes too difficult to interpret, as there are too many data points.

Let's return to the top of the hierarchy and turn on dromode.

We'll select south, east south central, and Kentucky.

We can now see all cities in Kentucky and their contribution to the total revenue for that state. Again, note how the drill down feature helps us quickly zoom in on a small subset of our data. As you can imagine, waterfall charts are one of the more niche types of visualization in Power BI.

As we've mentioned in this lesson, these charts are mainly used for time intelligence, or when analyzing the contribution of individual elements to a larger whole. In the next lesson, we'll look at the mapping functionality available in Power BI.