The Bullet Chart Explained
The Bullet Chart is a replacement for gauges and meters and can be downloaded here for use in Power BI.
But Gauges and Meters are so darn cool, why replace em? Well some say they are to space intensive….and I’m forced to agree that they take up more space than they need to for the story they tell. Also, they require too much mental exercise to compare the spaces and positions of the various measures therein to each other, with much less accuracy and efficiency than just comparing bars or positions of single points as offered by the Bullet Chart.
The Bullet Chart Story…
The Bullet chart consists of 5 primary components:
- Text label: Your chart caption which defines what your chart is about and the unit of measurement.
- Quantitative Scale: Measures the value of your metric on a linear axis.
- The Featured Measure: The bar that displays the primary performance measure (eg: Revenue YTD).
- Comparative Measure: The measure against which you want to compare your featured measure (eg: Target revenue).
- Qualitative Scale: The background fill that encodes qualitative ranges like bad, satisfactory, and good.
The video below is a great reference of the data needed to fuel gauges and demonstrates about 3 gauges, including the Bullet Chart…..
The Bullet Chart was conceived as a gauge killer for the reasons above, to be efficient with your Dashboard real estate and to pinpoint quantitative meaning to answer the question ‘compared to what’ in 3 ways:
- What is our quantitative performance in this area?
- What is the range of this performance on a scale of poor to excellent?, and
- How does this performance compare to 1 or 2 other measures, like Target or Historical?
Here is a list of benefits of the Bullet Chart over gauges and over many other visualizations:
- Efficient use of Dashboard Real Estate
- Text-sized sizing for inclusion in tables
- Multiples of comparison – notice how 2 distinct markers appear on this Bullet Chart, each representing a different measure.
- Removing the bar and keeping only the ‘markers’ allows us to forego the requirement for a zero baseline inherent in the use of bar/column charts
- Inverse measurements – gauges make it hard to read negative values or whether an inverse performing category like ‘expenses’ or ‘variances on expenses’ is good or bad. A bullet chart allows us to flip the direction of the ‘poor to excellent’ underlay so that a small expense falls on the excellent side of the range.
- Intense meaning can be extracted at a glance when displaying multiple Bullet Charts in a series or by category.