Tracking Long Term Goals with Running Totals

Explore Analytics has a feature called “Display As”, which reformats the data in a few different ways to answer different questions. Although the underlying data is the same, looking at them in these different formats can help draw the eye towards answering different questions.

Let’s look at one of those “Display As” options, and see how it’s best used.

How did it get here? – Running Totals

Running totals are most popular when you’re trying to figure out how your data got to the point it’s at now. It helps you understand how cumulatively, your current total was put together.

Let’s look at a specific example. The following is a sales pivot, showing the total sales for a company — with no running totals:

You can see in the two columns how much was sold in each month, during each year. This makes it easy to identify how you performed against specific monthly goals — for example, in April 2010, the company sold $43,058, significantly more than the month before.

Let’s take a look at the same data with a running total:

In the view above, it’s easy to see how you were performing against the yearly goal — for example, you can see that in 2010, the company sold over 200,000 in June, whereas in 2011 the company crossed that threshold in May.

Thus, the running total allows you to look at the progress across months within the year. Both the monthly and the yearly (or longer term) goals are important, each tell a different story.

There are a few different ways of “displaying as” Running Total — by column/row, by field or grouping — but another key way is to look at % Running Total. Here’s the same view, with a % Running Total alongside:

Again, you’re looking at the same data — but here, you’re seeing it as a percent, which can provide an easier scale to understand.