Over the years as a Tableau user I’ve learned to adjust my vizzes depending on the audience. Displaying Year over Year is an important metric to many at my organization. Here is a quick and easy way that I use often.
I’m using the Superstore sample data that ships with Tableau. Place Order Date in the Columns shelf and Sales in the Rows shelf, change the Marks to Bar.
Now grab Sales again and place it in the Label Marks. Hover over the right edge of the pill until you see the triangle. Click it and move down to Quick Table Calculation > Percent Difference
And that’s it! Tableau will use the earliest date as the base line and calculate the YoY change.
I like this view because the viz utilizes the Y axis to display the Sales in dollars, but the label shows the YoY growth. The two metrics combined provide more context to your audience.
One thing to keep in mind is that if current year is not over, filter for months. Let’s say today is currently June 2013 and management wants to know how Sales are tracking against previous years.
Hold right click as you drag Order Date into the Filter shelf. Filter on Months and only include January to May. Very simple!