For which cases is the waterfall chart good for? Two cases:

  1. You need to explain a change that occurred from one time period to another. For example how did the earnings change (e.g. EBIT) from last year to this year and which factors where responsible for this change
  2. You want to explain how you got from point A to point B within the same time period. For example, how you went from gross sales to net income in the same month.

The Waterfall is also not just financial figures. You 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.

One feature that makes the Waterfall a good storyteller is the connectors. These connectors, connect the bars – the delta bars to one another – they have the effect of grouping the bars – which visually indicate that they belong together – they are all a part of the same story. In this video you will see a few different Waterfall charts used in the real business world. Each of these Waterfall charts were created in Excel.

You can create these in ANY version of Excel you have.

Leila Gharani

I'm a 6x Microsoft MVP with over 15 years of experience implementing and professionals on Management Information Systems of different sizes and nature.

My background is Masters in Economics, Economist, Consultant, Oracle HFM Accounting Systems Expert, SAP BW Project Manager. My passion is teaching, experimenting and sharing. I am also addicted to learning and enjoy taking online courses on a variety of topics.