7 Replies Latest reply on Oct 10, 2018 7:39 AM by Michael Hesser

    How would you visualize this?

    Scott Carman

      Morning all,


      Ok so I am working on a project in which I am visualizing contract costs or better said the liability of costs for an organization.  What I can't figure out is how to layer three bar charts on top of each other, where each start at zero.  Almost like a duel axis but with three to four amounts.


      Example - a contract has three amounts:

      1. Committed - amount which is the amount they are budgeting to paying (before agreement).

      2. Obligated - amount legally obligated to pay (agreed amount to pay).

      3. Expended - amount they have spent to meet the obligation.


      What I need to show is the sum amounts of each of these YTD.  At the lowest "layer" you would have the committed amount, then the obligated amount laid on top of that, then the expended amount laid on top of that.  What I don't want is a stacked bar chart.


      This way a manager can see the various amount through the various stages of a contract's life as money is applied and it cycles through its various stages.


      That said, I am open to other ideas that you have and that might work.

        • 1. Re: How would you visualize this?
          Kelly McGrady



          I  would use the bar in bar chart from this link and also pull in the measure values pill from the measures and that'll pull the three you need in. I can't open your workbook as its a newer version than mine.

          • 2. Re: How would you visualize this?
            Michael Hesser

            Hi Scott!


            There are quite a few different ways you can visualize this-- depending on how you want your viewer to interpret the data.

            • I don't think there's anything wrong with the horizontal bars in your current view.
              • Pros: Allows the viewer to quickly see the relationship between the different amounts (beginning with the baseline of 0); helps keep your view proportional (Contract 3, totaled, would dwarf the others)
              • Cons: Does not (currently) include a total, so user cannot quickly determine final amount.
            • You said you didn't want a stacked bar, but I'm a fan of this:
              • Pros: Accurately show percent to total; shows final aggregation; popular visualization requiring little explanation
              • Cons: difficult to visually compare amounts (though a ToolTip can help with this); your large values in Contract 3 may dwarf the other two
            • You could try a waterfall chart:
              • Pros: Accurately shows change over time; shows final aggregation
              • Cons: difficult to see exact values (you could use a ToolTip or Label for this, though); a less popular view, meaning some may be unfamiliar with it; large value of Contract 3 may dwarf others


            Hopefully, this will give you something to think about. Please let me know if you'd like to see what these would look like with your current data.

            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • 3. Re: How would you visualize this?
              Scott Carman

              Hi Michael,


              Thank you for your response.  So I would love to see a version of all of these charts with my current data.  That said, I am fairly new to Tableau and having issues getting on top of a lot of these advanced type charts.


              The point you made about Contract 3 dominating is fairly common in my actual dataset and I have to navigate this viz through a hierarchy and join it to another dataset to show the period of performance via a blend.  So I have a handful of “stuff” to deal with.


              So let me ask you this “if I am trying to show you the current liability for an organization which chart would you pick?”  In this case the most important part to display is the obligation minus expenditures.  The difference between here is the primary metric that I am trying to show and the rest of the stuff is just noise but important to be shown so that a manager can look at the bid process/funding levels (difference between commitment and obligation).


              So I am not opposed to any of the charts you suggested, just trying to figure out which one is going to fit the data the best so that others can make sense of it and I can speak to it.  I really appreciate your response and how detailed it is.





              • 4. Re: How would you visualize this?
                ShivaRam Chennapragada

                Scott- I deal with these type of requests everyday, and simplest way of showing "Current vs Actual vs Budgeted" sales is something like,


                This is my color standard,


                Current - I show in Blue

                Prior Year - Orange

                Budget - Reference Line in Red


                Good Luck!




                2 of 2 people found this helpful
                • 5. Re: How would you visualize this?
                  Michael Hesser

                  I think the Bullet Chart ShivaRam Chennapragada  suggested is an excellent choice.

                  Remember that you can add additional reference lines to show current Liability.


                  If you feel like your display is getting a little too busy, you have several options:

                  • You can pop the Liability (or other metrics) into the Tooltip.
                  • You can make a user-controlled reference line: the user will be able to determine what he/she sees (Liability, bid process/funding level, or both). This option could keep your graph looking visually clean, but still versatile enough for users with a variety of needs.


                  Good luck to you! --Michael

                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                  • 6. Re: How would you visualize this?
                    Scott Carman



                    I agree with your comments and have been working with ShivaRam’s idea.  It’s starting to look good!


                    Thanks for your help and input!



                    • 7. Re: How would you visualize this?
                      Michael Hesser

                      Don't be afraid to tap that "this helped me" button if a suggestion helps out