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Waterfall Chart


Vishwadeep Khatri
Message added by Mayank Gupta,

Waterfall Chart (or Bridge Charts) is a visualization tool that helps highlight the reasons for variation in the starting and ending values. These reasons could be time or category based. The values of these reasons could either be positive or negative and are depicted as floating bars in the graph between the start and end values.

 

An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Rahul Arora on 10th Oct 2022.

 

Applause for all the respondents - Rakesh Chandra, Dimple Tiwari, Prashanth Datta, Chandra Sekhar Achyutuni, Anjali Nair, Ashish Kumar Sharma, Rahul Arora, Shraddha Sequeira, M V Ramana, M Vijayakumar Elangovan, Subham De Sarkar.

Question

Q 511.  McKinsey & Company were responsible for popularizing the waterfall charts. Explain the construct of a waterfall chart. Provide examples of its usage in the field of business excellence.

 

Note for website visitors - Two questions are asked every week on this platform. One on Tuesday and the other on Friday.

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A Waterfall Chart is basically a variation of a bar graph that shows how an initial value changes due to other factors over a period of time. It is also known as a Waterfall Graph or a Bridge Chart particularly in finance parlance.
 
Its purpose is to show a before & after picture of your data, it depicts each step in the journey & shows which factors increases or decreases the progression. Its was made popular by McKinsey & Company, thus many people consider it to be a financial charting tool, however it has its applications in other areas as well.
 
Let us see below a common example of a waterfall chart being leveraged in financial sector in order to study the effect of various revenue streams on the overall profit of an organization.
 
825907555_ScreenShot2022-10-10at5_39_10PM.png.3084e5d25de33c40e077af885d44d818.png
 
Waterfall chart has its application in business excellence as well, especially while driving improvement projects. Let us see some examples in order to further explore this aspect:-
 
  • In this example, the waterfall chart is leveraged to showcase the roadmap of achieving the targeted goal broken down in terms of various solution levers. Here we will start off with the initial baseline of the project metric & then showcase each solution lever along with its projected impact on the metric & finally arriving at the targeted value of the project metric.

422453019_ScreenShot2022-10-10at5_52_09PM.thumb.png.53d2ba9ffff8d64b902545b9dadee9b0.png

 

 
  • This example showcases the application of waterfall chart at a program level in order to showcase the 5 year projection journey of the program metric by showcasing the projected reduction of the program metric over a period of 5 years.
658496578_ScreenShot2022-10-10at6_09_08PM.thumb.png.7731d2ab3e2f8037805b58a83a7142ee.png
 
  • Let us have a look at one more example where we are showcasing the impact of various factor X’s on the output Y of a regression model. Here we are starting with mapping the intercept coefficient value & then also showing the coefficient values of all the relevant X’s & finally arriving at the projected Y.

1958050494_ScreenShot2022-10-10at6_01_35PM.png.364b9bfeefc2fb2da286f9a176b416fb.png

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Waterfall chart

A Waterfall chart is a data visualization technique that shows that how an initial value can be affected by the cumulative effect of sequential positive and negative values. This chart can be used to show either sequential or categorical data. It uses a series of bars that show gains and losses, clearly showing how an opening figure was changed by events and led to the closing figure.

 

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Waterfall charts were popularized by the strategic consulting firm “McKinsey & Company” in its presentations to the clients or customers. The use of waterfall chart became popular after the book “The McKinsey Way” was published.

Construction of waterfall chart in Power Point

1.       In the power point ribbon, click on the ‘insert’ then on ‘chart’

 

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2.       In the chart list, select ‘waterfall’ then click ‘OK’. Waterfall chart with a linked excel sheet will be inserted into the presentation.

 

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Can also click on the diagram placeholder of a slide. It will open the diagram list and waterfall chart will be displayed at the excel location of the placeholder.

 

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3.       Then right click on the chart, also can select ‘edit data’ to open the excel sheet that contains the waterfall data. Below that we can see how to add or remove sums or connecting lines. We can use our data also from an external excel file and link them together.

 

image.png.9abde4744bdff98cf3d38c711988483b.png

 

Construction of waterfall chart in Excel

 

1.       Select the desired data table in excel and ‘click’ the ‘insert’ tab on the ribbon.

 

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2.       In the center of the charts group, we see a waterfall icon. ‘click’ on it and select "Waterfall" from the list at the top. The values will be displayed as a waterfall chart in Excel. There is not to  be surprised if totals are not displayed correctly, we can easily edit this afterward then  see the headline, display totals in waterfall chart.

 

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3.       Then ‘click’ on the diagram to copy it.

 

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4.       Open the power point presentation and insert the waterfall chart at the desired position. Now the waterfall chart is displayed with the Excel values.

 

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Uses of Waterfall chart in business excellence

Examples:

1-      In HR to show attrition and growth in hiring.

2-      In financial industry to show credits and debits, gains and losses over the course of a single period of time

3-      To visualize positive and negative growth or values.

4-      Category wise gains and losses.

 

 

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The waterfall chart is a 2-Dimensional chart that is used to understand the effects of incremental positive and negative changes over time or over multiple steps or a variable. The waterfall charts are also known as Floating /Flying Bricks Charts.
The waterfall chart is used in financial analysis to understand the positive and negative effects of multiple factors over a particular asset. Time based charts present the profit or loss over the time. We can use it to explain changes in statistical data, for example changes in headcount – how many new employees were hired, how many resignations or retirements your company had during the year. The Waterfall chart is common in finance, but we can use it for any variable or statistic that goes through changes which can be positive or negative.

Objective of Waterfall Chart
Using a waterfall chart is to visualize how an initial value is affected by a series of intermediate positive or negative values.
 
For Example
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Below is the sample data for above Waterfall Chart:
image.png

Below are the steps to create waterfall chart in Excel.
1. Select the data A2: B4 and go to the menu Insert > Chart.
2. From the Chart window, select the chart type Waterfall Chart
image.png
3 Below is the Waterfall chart customization options.
image.png

 

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Waterfall diagram aka Bridge Chart in its simplest form is a graphical representation of how you will achieve your desired goals in a systematic (incremental or decremental based on the goal KPI) way. It helps with a neat visualisation of 'WHAT' and 'BY HOW MUCH' variance you will achieve your goal KPI.

 

For example, if a BPO wants to improve its current CSAT say from 80% to 85%, post a thorough Measure and Analyze phase (with ground rules of Define and Measure addressed here to improve CSAT by 5%) with identified tangible and actionable root causes we can attribute which action item can yield what percent improvement and plot a neat Water Fall/ Bridge Plot. In this example, post analysis we can say the bride to 5% can be say 2% from Bottom Quartile Agent Management, 1% from Knowledge Management, 1% from Customer Handling skills and Communication and possibly another 2% by stacks realignment.

 

This approach will give a focused action plan and will help us focus on 'critical few' actions' with a timebound improvement plan. This can be revisted at planned intervals to see if the action plan is working before moving the same to Control phase.

 

A downward trend bridge can be Attrition Management 

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We all are aware of the typical water fall charts/visualisation. It represents a series of bars in a hanging fashion that shows the movement/break up  of a value.

From my experience I shall describe one of the projects how waterfall is used:

1)      For a particular business in professional services industry- we collected the head count data by various functional units. Waterfall is built showing the total headcount and the various functional units head counts that lead to this total head count.

2)      We then did a T&M (Time and Motion study) and solutioned a certain head count reduction (by applying carious lean principles). The Waterfall is then enhanced to represent the headcount movement for each functional unit and the final total headcount of the business.

3)      In my presentations- I even tried to put a time line on top of waterfall to showcase the headcount efficiencies that can be achieved Quarter over Quarter.

Apart from this there are several other projects where waterfall model helped us to effectively present the data with leadership forums-  

Ex: 1) For a Global organisation- the regional/geography wise costs were represented with a split of fixed labor, contract labor and facility costs.

2) For an outsourcing project- the efforts for various sprints were represented in a waterfall to visually showcase effort comparison across sprints and the run up to the total project effort.

 

To be honest earlier days making a waterfall used to be a tricky affair as I was trying to mimic MCK! Now a days with the Excel and other tools good plugins and readymade charts are available to make waterfall quickly!!

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WATERFALL CHART

 

A waterfall chart may be a form of data visualization that helps in understanding the cumulative effect of sequentially introduced positive or negative values.

 

A waterfall chart is additionally known by many other names: waterfall graph, bridge graph, bridge chart, cascade chart, flying bricks chart, Mario chart (due to its resemblance to the video game), and net income waterfall chart. no matter the name, this versatile chart may be a great way to provide a quick visual into positive and negative changes to a value over a period.

 

In a waterfall chart, the depiction of the floating steps is the initial and final values are shown as columns with the individual negative and positive adjustments. Some waterfall charts connect the lines between the columns to form the chart look like a bridge, while others leave the columns floating.

 

Waterfall charts became popular within the late 20th century, when the service industry organization McKinsey & Company used them in presentations to clients. Then McKinsey associate Ethan M. Rasiel these widely popular in corporate analysis in one of his 1999 book, The McKinsey Way.

 

The key feature of a waterfall chart, per Raziel, is that it shows changes not only over time, but in reference to the previous period or other milestone of measurement. Each step within the waterfall gets you to the result and demonstrates how you got there. and therefore, the beauty of a waterfall chart is its simplicity of construction, even in analyzing complex information — which suggests it will likely enjoy heavy use into the future.

 

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When to Use a Waterfall Chart?

 

Waterfall charts are helpful for a spread of scenarios, from visualizing financial statements to navigating large amounts of census data. samples of situations where we might use a waterfall chart:

 

• Evaluating company profit.

• Comparing product earnings.

• Highlighting budget changes on a project.

Analyzing inventory or sales over a period.

• Showing product value over a period.

• Visualizing profit and loss statements.

• Creating executive dashboards.

• Tracking consulting jobs.

• Keeping track of retail inventory.

• Documenting contracts.

• Demonstrating how operating costs have changed from just one occasion period to another.

• Contrasting competitors.

 

 

Who Typically Uses a Waterfall Chart?

 

Waterfall charts began to trace monetary performance over time and have become a mainstay among financial industries and departments. However, more and more industries, also as departments within those industries, are finding it useful to adopt waterfall charts to trace and present performance. These include the following:

 

• Sales companies and teams

• Developers and IT professionals

• Retailers and ecommerce companies

• Legal departments and lawyers

• Construction companies

• Educators and exam-scoring companies

 

 

The Benefits of Using a Waterfall Chart

Waterfall charts are an easy visual format that presents your data in an impactful manner, which is why they need become increasingly popular in recent years. There are other benefits of using waterfall charts also . Here are some samples of advantages you can enjoy:

 

• Customize the looks of your waterfall charts, as you'd with any other chart.

• Make them as simple and bare-bones or as complex as you wish .

• Deploy them for analytical purposes, especially to elucidate or present the gradual changes in the value of an item.

• Study a good variety of data, like inventory analysis or performance analysis.

• Demonstrate how you have got arrived at a net value, by breaking down the cumulative effect of positive and negative contributions.

 

The Challenges in employing a Waterfall Chart

 

That said, there are and continue to be challenges in creating and using waterfall charts. several the roadblocks’ users have encountered include the following:

 

• It can take plenty of input work to set totals.

• There is plenty of unnecessary data and content around and on the chart.

• It takes too many clicks to interrupt the axis.

• It is impossible to display relative contributions in percentages.

• There is no difference within the highlights.

• We cannot create a vertical Excel waterfall chart.

• They do not allow subtotals.

• Scaling multiple charts is time-consuming.

 

 

The Typical Features of a Waterfall Chart

 

Each waterfall chart will have a rather different appearance, relying on the type of data you choose to visualize. However, your final chart will likely include the next features:


Floating Columns: To quickly provide a visual into the status of a value over time, the floating columns (also mentioned as plot or plotted values) represent the positive and negative changes made to the initial value.


Spacers: Because each of the columns during a waterfall chart don’t begin at zero, they need to be offset by a certain margin. This area is known as the spacer or padding.


Connector Lines: The connector lines (also mentioned as datum) show the relationships between the floating columns. Although they are not necessary for all waterfall charts, connector lines are often a helpful addition to enhance the professional look of your chart.


Color Coding: By assigning specific colors to the varied column types, you will quickly tell positive from negative values and supply a quick visual of the movement over time.


Crossover: There are some instances, relying on the values you're plotting in your chart, where the values will move across the x-axis. as an example, if you're creating a waterfall chart as a visible for a profit-and-loss statement and the first figure is 1,000 while the second figure is -2,000, an element of the floating column will be above the x-axis and part will be below. this is often often an important feature of the waterfall chart, because the chart should adjust automatically to point out movement across the axis.

 

 

How to Create a Waterfall Chart in Excel

 

  •    A data table for annual sales numbers for the current year is created as below

 

image.png.47e1d5e0e56da0488040928cd6e1a973.png

  • Insert three additional columns which would represent the movement of the columns on the waterfall chart. The base column representing the starting point for the fall and rise of the chart. Then input all the negative numbers from the sales flow on to the fall column and all the positive numbers on to the rise column.

image.png.e31df3a8fa648788b3ea9d17c2d55784.png

  • Insert the specified formulas to complete the table
  • Select C4 within the Fall column and enter the formula: =IF (E40, E4,0). Drag the fill handle down to the end of the column to copy the formula.

 image.png.b111d8ffe3a093a0f7fd4b729bed8c82.png'

 

  • Select D4 in the Rise column and enter the formula: =IF(E4>0, E4,0). Copy the formula right down to the end of the table using the fill handle.

image.png.144214064276ac7fb111602053fe671c.png

  • Select B5 within the Base column and enter the formula: =B4+D4-C5. Use the fill handle to drag and copy the formula to the end of the column. 
  • The necessary data to build your waterfall chart is ready. Select the data you would like to highlight in the chart. Include the row and column headers, and exclude the sales flow column.

 

  • Go to the Insert tab, click on the Column Charts group, and select Stacked Chart.

image.png.ce965f6bd0fbc96033b805b6fec35def.png

  • The stacked chart now appears in the worksheet, with all the data included, but it is not a waterfall chart yet. Next, the stacked column chart need to be changed into a waterfall chart.

image.png.80c89fd0bcd566faed0f6ac6492c8d31.png

  • In order to make the stacked column chart look like a waterfall chart,  need to make the Base series invisible on the chart. Click on the Base series to select them. Right-click and choose Format Data Series from the list.

image.png.beb29fd5399afcb313b14d4476d4dd03.png

  • Once the Format Data Series pane appears to the right of your worksheet, Click on the Fill & Line icon (looks like a paint bucket).
  • Select No fill in the Fill section and No line in the Border section.

image.png.fafb5974d6c89c76c5ce82d87896e86a.png

  • Now that the Base series is invisible, remove the Base label listed in the legend. To do this, double click on Base in the legend, right-click on the selected label, and click Delete from the dropdown list.

image.png.c119cf927ba99007dd4469489d11e256.png

  • Format the waterfall chart
  • To make the waterfall chart more engaging apply some formatting.
  • Start by color-coding the columns to help identify positive versus negative values. Select the Fall series in the chart, right-click and select Format Data Series from the list.
  • Once the Format Data Series pane appears to the right of your worksheet, select the Fill & Line icon.
  • Click on the color dropdown to select a color.

 

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  • Once the color for the Fall series, complete the same steps for the Rise series.
  • Color-code the start and end columns to make them stand out, and will need to do those separately.

 

image.png.ae7054166003461e8df6e4f247c3943a.png

  • To make waterfall chart look a little nicer, remove most of the white space between the columns.
  • Double-click on one of the columns in your chart.
  • Once the Format Data Series pane opens, change the Series Overlap to 100% and the Gap Width to 15%.

image.png.29e8c102c7654c447294431334c90ff4.png

 

  • Need to change the chart title and add data labels.
  • Click the title, highlight the current content, and type in the desired title.
  • To add labels, click on one of the columns, right-click, and select Add Data Labels from the list. Repeat this process for the other series.
  • To format the labels, select one of the labels, right-click, and select Format Data Labels from the list.
  • Once the Format Data Labels pane opens, can adjust the label position, text color and font to make the numbers more readable.
  • Once done with labeling the columns, you can delete unnecessary elements like zero values and the legend.

 

Helpful Tips to Make Waterfall Charts

 

• You are allowed to enter two or more values into a column. If you've got a column composed of more than one segment, you'll enter an e (for “equals”) for, at maximum, one among them.

• For basic waterfall charts, every two columns are connected by just one horizontal connector. Select the connector, and it'll show two handles.

• To change the column connections within the waterfall, drag the connectors’ handles.

• To start a replacement summation, remove the connector by deleting it. to feature a connector, click Add Waterfall Connector within the context menu.

• Connectors may conflict with one another , which can result in skew connectors. you'll resolve the problem by removing some of the skew connectors.

• To connect the “equals” column with the highest of the last segment, drag the proper handle of the highlighted connector.

• If you would like to create a build-down waterfall chart, use the image toolbar icon.

• By using labels for level difference arrows, you’ll support the display of values as percentages of the 100%= value within the datasheet.

• Incorporate subtotals as a visible checkpoint in the chart.

• Customize the chart with logos, colors, etc., for max impact.

• Waterfall charts aren’t limited to financial analysis; they will also show user growth or any other changes in a vital base metric.

 

 

 

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Showcasing the data analysis and outcome graphically has been a common practice and considered to be a must skill especially Project Management teams. Not just the complex interpretation and understanding improves but it largely facilitates observation, focus on critical aspects and facilitates comparison and decision making. Waterfall is another data visualization technique that shows data trend from a start point and factors contributing positively and negatively to result in end outcome. In a bird’s eye view, it displays which factor and by how much, contributed to the performance. Due to its representation characteristic waterfall chart is often resembled to a Bridge formation and a brick chart, mostly - how did you move from one balance status to another.
image.png

A typical waterfall will have a start point and this need not be zero and will have an end result. We can add positive and negative levers that contributes together to a specific outcome, that’s the layer that we want to showcase, example – we may want to show case Sales, Revenue, Individual team performance, Project Summary, Quarterly performance, Budget Cash Flow usage etc.

 image.png

Let’s see Waterfall closely with example, in financial year 2022, XYZ & Associates had a revenue of $2.5B USD and made net profit of $30MM. Expense line is bucketized into Cost of good sold and administration expense. Stakeholders were also keen to look at trend compared to last year. An easy and excellent storyboard can be created referring to Waterfall Chart.

 image.png

 

In the given example, it will be worthy for organization to know the reasons for high cost of goods sold and find reason to reward the Admin. team for being on the path of continuous improvement.

Not just financial data but non-financial topics also gets an attractive representation. Example HR lead would want to see Headcount movement during the year and since the focus is specifically on Gender Diversity – status around the same.

image.png

 

Waterfall chart are simple to understand, shows the changing trend and enables the representative to point out compelling attributes. In above example, it is very easy for Organization to think of extra focus and efforts on hiring diverse population.  

Waterfall was designed and popularized by Mckinsey. They widely used Waterfall to create a strong storyline while representing Project Status Update. The visualization was largely accepted and had a great VOC, got fame and now is part of the MS Office Excel tool. Must say – a great practice.

 

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A waterfall chart help us identify how positive or negative values in a data series contribute to the total. It helps to visualize a starting value, the positive and negative changes made to that value, and the resulting end value.

 

It begins with the starting value and the last column is the end value. The floating columns between them are the contributing positive or negative value. Waterfall chart is also known as bridge chart.

 

Waterfall chart can be created using Excel or Powerpoints. We need to have the data points listed down in Excel for which the chart needs to be created.

EXCEL

Select the desired data

Under Charts option Select “Waterfall”

A waterfall chart is created.

You will be able to edit the Subtotal and Totals.

You will also be able to display or illustrate the data if there is negative impact but clicking on “Negative Range”

It allows you to change the preset colors to the colors of your own choice

Waterfall chart is an effective to display changes in the quantitative value over time and can help in Business Excellence in Quantitative analysis

Quantitative data is objective in nature and can be measured. Qualitative data is further bifurcated as Nominal, Ordinal and Binary. Since Quantitative data focuses on measurement it helps identify patterns and accordingly make predictions. It helps in sampling and deriving results based on population and identifying variations and standard deviations in the data. Waterfall chart help in identification of these patterns through graphical representation of data.

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Waterfall chart

A waterfall chart is a bar chart of specific type that reveals the story behind the net change in between two points of values.  A beginning value is shown in one bar and an ending value in a second bar. All of the unique components that contributed to that net change, and visualizes them individually are the dis-aggregates of waterfall chart.

The waterfall chart name has been derived from its shape. Usually, in a waterfall chart the first bar starts from a baseline of zero, and represents the initial quantity of the measure. There are series of smaller bars, seemingly floating in space (like a wave in an ocean falling towards the baseline), leading up to one final bar, which represents the end measure.

 

How does a waterfall chart work

Bar charts all have a common baseline of zero which is one of the very few golden rules of data visualization. In a waterfall chart, the first bar that shows the initial value, and the last bar that shows the final value. The component bars of the baselines between these totals are all different, and are dependent on whatever the running total.

One complicating factor in the waterfall chart is that sometimes the “baseline” of these component bars is at the top of the bar (if a component showcased a negative value), and on the other hand it is at the bottom of the bar (for all the positive values).

 

Some of the people prefer to draw horizontal lines connecting the edges of bars to indicate eyes a line to follow as we move from left to right through the chart, to trace across components making the stair-step pattern easier. Some of the people prefer to make bars showing increases a different color from bars showing decreases.  There are couple of ways to make waterfalls clearer.

 

Waterfall charts used

Human resources are often use the waterfall chart to show case the attrition and growth hiring. To show credits and debits, gains and losses the waterfall chart is commonly used in the financial industry
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Unusual variants on the waterfall chart

Multiple totals is the main variant in the waterfall chart. The visual effect from a single cascade into multiple arcs can be changed.

Waterfall chart would not truly be considered for Stock charts. Component bars floating have more in common with box-and-whisker plots for stocks.

 

Drawbacks of the waterfall chart

Waterfall charts compare the lengths of objects that are floating in space and good at comparing the length of lines if those lines share a common baseline but, in a waterfall, chart a very few of the bars do and therefore, it’s hard to compare the specific sizes of growth or contraction between two subcategories.

One of the last challenges of the waterfall chart is for its designer and it’s one that is true whenever we need to show large and small values together the temptation to truncate your Y axis.

To represent the HUGE numbers It’s not uncommon for the “pillars” of waterfall charts.

 

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Waterfall Chart

Waterfall chart analysis is visualization progress of an Data/Values over period of time. Its sequential representation change to Starting value through variance over a period or due to change and take the final value. On other term representation of before and after through sequence change through increase and decrease.

How to Construct Waterfall Chart:

There are multiple analytical tool available to create the waterfall chart. We can construct in Excel. New excel version has waterfall chart. Representation of Data is key to build better chart

Excel Components of Water Fall chart: Increase, Decrease and Total

Data we need analyze the waterfall chart should have Start Value, Incremental change and Final value. We can also have sub total value. Eg. Gross & net. I have taken simple data of investment and Sale for Jan-May and Revenue. Net revenue is sum of month sale. We can do many subtotal based on data requirement. Insert Chart and choose excel Waterfall chart.

Key point. Excel would be able identify Positive and Negative value but does not Identify Start & End. In excel terms Total. We need select the and Set as Total

Investment

2000

Jan

200

feb

-300

mar

-600

Apr

400

May

-700

Revenue

1000

 

Note: Excel waterfall chart has its own limitation, As mentioned it can’t identify the totals. The Colour theme cannot be a different chart. We have select from the existing theme or create one which will be applicable for all waterfall chart.  The same waterfall chart can be created using a stacked Bar chart using Cumulative values.

Usage in Business excellence: Waterfall chart provides better visualization of variance. analysis and ROI data. So both these are part of Business excellence. Below are areas we can use to visualize the waterfall for analysis.

            Project saving through the implementation period

            Process change based on the implemented solution

            Any leakage or risk impact analysis

            Cash flow of project

 

image.png.0ed922d1fd7de17451c43689b2ab8940.png

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Definition of Waterfall chart: 


An example of data visualisation that aids in comprehending the cumulative impact of successively introduced positive or negative values is the waterfall chart. These intermediate values may be based on categories or on time. Due to the appearance of columns (or bricks) suspended in midair, the waterfall chart is also known as a flying bricks chart or a Mario chart. It is frequently referred to as a bridge in the world of finance.

 

A brief History of Waterfall Chart: 

In its client presentations, the strategic consulting firm McKinsey & Company (James O. McKinsey, a professor at the University of Chicago, founded McKinsey & Company in 1926. This multinational management consulting firm provides expert services to businesses, governments, and other organisations. The oldest and largest of the "Big Three" management consultancies (MBB), or the three biggest strategy consulting companies in the world, is McKinsey. The company's primary areas of focus are their clients' finances and business operations. )made waterfall charts widely used.

 

Features of waterfall chart :


    shows how sequential or categorical positive and negative values applied to the starting value have an additive effect.
    Both time-based (values in and out by month) and category-based (various sources of income and various sources of expenses for a given time period) additions and subtraction are possible.
    Sub-components of the incoming and outgoing streams are represented by color-coded floating blocks, while totals and major sub-totals are represented by full columns.
    A chart like this appears to be a waterfall.
    Excel's stacked column charts and the "hidden" building blocks' shading and outlines can be used to create waterfall charts.
    Bridge Charts are another name for waterfall charts.

 

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                           Fig: Construction of waterfall chart

Use of Waterfall chart in the field of business excellence:


1. Waterfall charts can be used to illustrate any process that involves additions and subtractions from a starting value, but they are most frequently used in business applications.

2. In finance, waterfall charts are frequently used to illustrate how practitioners arrive at a net value and to aid in the visualisation of:

    Revenue statements broken down by region, month, or P&L line

    Income or cash flow

    Assessing business profit

    Shifts in stock prices

    Return on capital invested
3. Pay close attention to project budgets.

There are numerous analytics tools that can assist you in keeping everything on track. It can be challenging to keep a project on schedule and within budget. A waterfall chart allows you to specifically see metrics like:

    Phase-by-phase project spending

    Variance from the budget


4. Increase sales and interest in the brand


Use waterfall charts to lead your sales or marketing team to the appropriate insights. 
To increase brand and customer interest, they should be able to quickly and easily create these charts and visualise data on what works and what doesn't. 
They could visualise and track:

    Growth or churn rates for customers or subscribers by month
    Revenues per product

    Contributions to totals by region, graph

    Competitor research

    Using campaign cash flow to find new clients


5. A study of root causes in various industries

Waterfall charts are used by BI managers to show what led to an event, where things went wrong, or where the plan was deviated from. 
It's a useful way to provide quick insights to an executive team who are interested in the highs and lows. 
Waterfall charts are also used in the following sectors:

    To visualise patient days by nursing unit in healthcare

    Visualizing inventory balances over time in retail

    Contributions to totals by region, graph

    Competitor research

    Using campaign cash flow to find new clients

 

6. Easily manage stock and inventory

The production team can maintain optimal levels for profitability by analysing how stock and inventory levels change over time.

 

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All published answers are correct. Many answers have provided detailed step by step methods of creating a Waterfall chart in various applications - power point, excel, google sheets etc.

One part of question was to identify areas where it can be used in business excellence. There are two answers that have tried to answer that part of the question - Prashanth Datta and Rahul Arora. Between the two, Rahul's answer has been selected as winner.

One must read responses from - Prashanth Datta, Anjali Nair, Chandra Sekhar Achyutuni. Great answers from them as well.

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