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Variance analysis in Power BI using Inforiver Charts 

by Chandra Vadana Rajamohan | Nov 16, 2022 |

Inforiver Charts for Power BI provides users with the capability to compare performance and benchmark with variance visualized in both absolute & % terms. 

In this blog, let us look at some of the key capabilities delivered by Inforiver Charts for performing variance analysis. 

1. Horizontal and vertical orientations 

The variance chart is useful for visualizing both categorical and time series data. 2021 actuals vs plan for different subcategories using integrated variance columns is shown below. 

Horizontal and vertical orientations

In the below image, 2021 actuals is compared against prior year actuals over the 12-month period using integrated variance bars. 

Integrated variance bars

2. Variance plot options 

Inforiver provides several chart types – bar, column, line, area, and waterfall for visualizing variances. 


a) Variance line chart – Line/area charts do not have an option to display the absolute/relative variances as separate series, but they can be seen on the tooltip. 

Variance line chart

b) Variance waterfall chart – The variance between AC and PY is visualized as a waterfall across the categories/time periods. 

Variance waterfall chart

3. Display absolute and/or percentage variances 

At times, visualizing absolute and relative variance in a chart might not be required. In such cases, you can disable either (or both) of these. This option is available under ‘Manage measures’ in the ‘Display’ section. 

Display absolute and/or percentage variances

You can also enable/display averages or totals for all the measures – performance, benchmark, absolute variance, and % variance as shown below. Notice that scale bands get enabled for enhanced comprehension of variances. 

Display absolute and/or percentage variances

4. Sorting by variance values or percentages 

Sorting can be done by performance, comparison, absolute variance or % variance. In the image below, the values are sorted in ascending order of % variance. 

Sorting by variance values or percentages

5. Deviation 

View deviation between two data points such as first to last, min to max, etc., including dynamic deviation during runtime. 


6. IBCS-compliant charts  

Inforiver Charts can be used to create IBCS-compliant charts for variance analysis. The below image (IBCS C04 template) shows the temporal development of different scenarios (AC, FC and PY) as a grouped column chart and the absolute and relative variances as bar and pin charts. 

IBCS-compliant charts - C04

C05 and C12 chart templates replicated using Inforiver Charts are shown below. 

AC (resp. FC) and PL are shown as grouped columns and combined with a horizontal waterfall chart for showing the absolute variances. Relative variances of AC (FC) to PL and PY are shown as pins.​ 

IBCS-compliant charts - C05

Calculation schemes are visualized as side-by-side waterfalls with absolute and relative variances in bars and pins. 

IBCS compliant charts - C12

7. Small multiples or trellis charts 

Using small multiples, you can visualize variances across multiple dimensions. In the below example of a sales vs forecast analysis, 3 dimensions are used – segment, region, and months.

Small multiples or trellis charts 

Inforiver supports dynamic individual panel height (ranked panels) and value based dynamic row height (scaled rows)​. There are several other options such as average panel, ability to freeze or repeat horizontal & vertical axis values as shown in the below image. 

Trellis layout

For a detailed walkthrough of advanced small multiples using Inforiver Charts, read this blog

8. Multi-measure chart type 

With Inforiver, each row or column or cell in a trellis chart can be customized to show a different chart type​.  

Multi-measure chart type

On hovering over a chart, you can find the customize chart option. The available chart types will be displayed, and you can select the one you desire. In addition, you can enable/disable absolute and relative variances and change measure color. 

Customize chart option

9. Drill down, drill up and drill across navigation 

Inforiver provides comprehensive drill down, drill up and drill across navigation for easy exploration of hierarchical data.  

In the below example, data is assigned as below: 

Axis – Sub Category, Quarter; Group – Region; Values (AC) – 2021 Actuals; Compare to Prior Period (PY) – 2020 Actuals and Compare to Plan (PL) – 2021 Plan 

Variance bars are shown for the sub categories (axis) and grouped by region. Let’s see how you can drill down one field at a time or all fields at once. 

a) Drill down one field at a time: On hovering over a bar as highlighted in the below image, you can drill down to view the quarterly variances for International – Soda. You can switch to other regions or sub categories from the highlighted dropdowns.

Drill down one field at a time
Drill down one field at a time

b) Drill down all fields at once: Instead, if you want to view the quarterly variance for all the sub categories, you can click the highlighted icon. 

Drill down all fields at once

In both the cases, to drill up to the previous level in the hierarchy, you can use the drill up option highlighted below. 

Drill down all fields at once - Drill up option

10. Dynamic data-level comments​​​ 

You can add data-level comments which supports dynamic data tags and custom calculations using an excel-like formula editor.​ 

Dynamic data-level comments

11. Themes 

You can leverage themes such as Power BI, Inforiver, IBCS and xViz to apply one-click formatting.  


Themes can also be customized based on your needs. Support for export and import of themes is available and is shown below. 

Theme Customization

12. KPI cards with variances 

You can insert KPI cards featuring variance presets in a couple of clicks to create stunning reports. 

KPI cards with variances

The presets and customization options are shown below.  

Presets and customization options

You can also create custom calculations in KPI cards and annotations using an excel-like formula editor​. 

Create custom calculations

13. Column as measure 

Often, year or month is a category in the models, and so DAX measures need to be created for each time-period (e.g., 2020 Sales, 2019 Sales) which can be further used to create variances. With Inforiver, you can bypass this step and create variances between member values (say, for Year) in a few clicks.  

In the below image, we have sales by sub category for 4 years.  

 Sales by sub category

Click on column as measure as highlighted below and simply assign the measures as actuals, prior year etc., for variance analysis. 

Column as measures

14. Comparison measure mapping 

With Inforiver, you can add up to 5 measures as benchmark (PY, PL or FC) and choose from them for performing variance analysis. In the below example, 2014 to 2016 Sales have been assigned in the PY field. By clicking on comparison mapping, 2015 Sales can be assigned as PY and compared against 2017 Sales. 

Comparison measure mapping

15. Pixel-perfect export to PDF​ 

Inforiver Charts supports exported to PDF with the exact formatting in your report. Note that export is possible only from Power BI service. 

Pixel-perfect export to PDF​

These are the 15 variance analysis capabilities that we reviewed so far. 

Variance analysis capabilities

Inforiver Charts offers a lot more that what is listed above. You can try for yourself by installing the free trial version of Inforiver Charts from Appsource.  

If you are interested in hierarchical variance analysis for table/matrix, read this blog

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