Which products are most profitable?

I’m starting to write this blog with a bit of uncertainty today as I’m not ultimately sure where I’m going to end up….

I wasn’t even sure I was going to pen an entry this week…. I found Luke’s challenge tough, and the path I took full of multiple wrong turns, that meant trying to write out a comprehensible ‘how I did it’ quite tricky, as reviewing now I’m questioning ‘what did I do that for…’.

Whilst with perseverance and a bit of inspiration from Rob Saunders, I did manage to post a working solution, I knew I wasn’t overly happy with it, particularly because my expand and collapse functions didn’t behave as I saw others do… I had to click twice to collapse.

Before starting to write, I decided to check out Luke’s workbook which he’d finally published to see if I could understand where I was going wrong.

I’d used both a set action and parameter action in my attempt; Luke had just a parameter action. In trying to understand why I ended up with a set action and see if I could do without it, my solution gradually started unravelling, as various calculated fields needed changing.

So, I think the best way to approach this blog is to rebuild my solution from scratch, using only my existing workbook as a reference, and I will attempt to write and screen shot as I build. This could take some time, and I have no idea how successful I’ll be…. I may well get to a point where I’ve taken a wrong turn again, and everything I’ve written needs to be scrapped… at which point I may just have to say ‘sorry, I tried!’……

Ok, let’s get cracking.

Top N Sub-Categories

At the ‘first’ level of the table, we need to display the top n sub-categories ordered by Profit. Those not in the top n should be displayed under an ‘All Others’ grouping, and always displayed at the bottom. The top n can vary based on the user input.

We need a parameter to define the value of the top n.

SUB-CATEGORIES TO SHOW

This is an integer parameter ranging from 1-10, defaulted to 3. I’ve titled it exactly as displayed on the output, so it’s one less change to make later (hence the capitals).

The easiest way to group the sub-categories into those in the top n, is to use a set. Right click Sub-Category and Create -> Set.

Top N SubCats by Profit

Use the Top tab to define the rules for which Sub-Category to include, referencing the SUB-CATEGORIES TO SHOW parameter and the Profit field as shown below.

SubCat Group

IF [Top N SubCats by Profit] THEN [Sub-Category] ELSE ‘All Others’ END

If the Sub-Category is in the set then the name will display, otherwise it will be grouped under the ‘All Others’.

Add SubCat Group to Rows and change the sort on the pill to sort by Field = Profit desc

This will result in All Others being listed at the top, but to resolve that, drag the Top N SubCats by Profit set onto the Rows an place in front of the SubCat Group.

Let’s get some of the measures we need out onto the canvas.

Margin

SUM([Profit])/SUM([Sales])

format to percentage with 0dp.

Add Margin, Profit & Sales onto the sheet.

Top N Products

The next level in the table displays the Top N products per SubCat Group based on their margin. For those not in the Top N, the products should be grouped under ‘All Others’, and listed at the bottom. The Top N is once again defined by a user input via a parameter.

PRODUCTS TO SHOW

Once again an integer parameter ranging from 1-10 but defaulted at 5 this time.

Unfortunately, this time we can’t use a set to define our Top N grouping. This is because the set will only consider the Top N across all Products and will not consider the fact the Products are nested per Sub-Category grouping. So we need to come up with an alternative. I did do a bit of research to find ideas, and found this article by Emma Whyte at The Information Lab to get me started : Showing a Nested Top N with Other in Tableau.

The Top N needs to be based on the order of the Margin, or the rank.

Margin Rank

RANK_UNIQUE([Margin])

Change this to be a Discrete field.

This will give us a unique ‘number’ per row displayed based on the value of Margin. If records have the same Margin value, using RANK_UNIQUE will mean they get a different rank number (as opposed to how other ranking functions work). The table calculation of INDEX() could work just as well. NOTE – there is potential though that when the Margin values are the same for different products, what makes the Top N and what doesn’t may differ, so you might find you get a slightly different list from some of the solutions you see.

Add Margin Rank and Product Name onto the sheet, and edit the table calculation on Margin Rank, to compute by Product Name only

We now want to group the Product Name based on the Top N products.

Product Name Group

IF [Margin Rank] <= MIN([PRODUCTS TO SHOW])
THEN ATTR([Product Name])
ELSE ‘All Others’ END

We also only want to show (PRODUCTS TO SHOW + 1) rows per SubCat Group ie if PRODUCTS TO SHOW = 5, we want to display 6 rows per SubCat Group, where the 6th row displays ‘All Others’. The 6th row also needs to show the Profit, Sales and Margin values associated to all the Products in the ‘All Others’ Product Name Group.

So we need to calculate some new fields that will store a revised value for Proft, Sales and Margin, depending what row we’re working with.

Sales For Others

WINDOW_SUM(IF [Margin Rank] > [PRODUCTS TO SHOW] THEN SUM([Sales]) END)

If the Product Name isn’t in the Top N, then get it’s Sales value, and then sum all of those rows that meet the same condition.

If you put this onto the sheet, and set the table calculation for each of the nested calculations (Sales for Others & Margin Rank) to be by Product Name only, you’ll see that the value displayed in every row for each SubCat Group is the sum of the values associated to the rows in the ‘All Others’ group.

So now we need a field that’s either going to display the Sales for the 1 product or the sales for the group of products, depending on what row we’re on.

Grouped Sales

IF [Margin Rank]<= MIN([PRODUCTS TO SHOW]) THEN SUM([Sales]) ELSE [Sales For Others] END

Again the table calculation settings need to be set to compute by Product Name only. This is the field we ultimately want to display, so it needs to be formatted accordingly. The Sales and Sales For Others fields can be removed.

Along similar lines, we need

Profit For Others

WINDOW_SUM(IF [Margin Rank] > [PRODUCTS TO SHOW] THEN SUM([Profit]) END)

Grouped Profit

IF [Margin Rank]<= MIN([PRODUCTS TO SHOW]) THEN SUM([Profit]) ELSE [Profit For Others] END

Margin For Others

IF [Margin Rank] > [PRODUCTS TO SHOW] THEN [Profit For Others]/[Sales For Others] END

Grouped Margin

IF [Margin Rank] <= MIN([PRODUCTS TO SHOW]) THEN [Margin] ELSE [Margin For Others] END

When added to the sheet, once again make sure all the table calculation properties for all the nested calculations are set to compute by Product Name only.

As mentioned above, we only want to show PRODUCTS TO SHOW + 1 rows, so let’s create a field we can filter by :

Show?

[Margin Rank] <= MIN([PRODUCTS TO SHOW]) + 1

Add this to the Filter shelf and set to True. Once again the table calculation needs to be set to compute by Product Name only.

Add Totals

We want a grand total and subtotals only at the level of SubCat Group. Add the totals by Analysis -> Totals -> Show Column Grand Totals to get the overall total. Then on the SubCat Group pill, click and add SubTotals

We’ve now got the main components of the table. We now need to get the interactivity working to allow the expand / contract on arrow selection.

Expand / Contract All Others Product Group

First up, we’ll just tidy up our table display

  • Hide the In/Out Top N SubCats By Profit field
  • Hide the Margin Rank field
  • Hide the Product Name field.
  • Remove the Margin field
  • Alias the Grouped Margin, Grouped Profit, Grouped Sales fields
    • Right click and Edit Alias. Name the field ‘ Margin ‘ (note the trailing and leading spaces. You can’t alias just as Margin as a field already exists with that name, but the spaces make it think it’s a new name.

We need an additional field that will store our ‘arrow’ icon. We’re going to revisit this field. For starters

Product Group Header

IF [Margin Rank] <= [PRODUCTS TO SHOW] THEN ”
ELSE ‘►’
END

I use this site to get my icon characters from. Add this field to the sheet after the SubCate Group pill, once again setting the table calculation to compute by Product Name.

In the dashboard, the aim is to click on an arrow associated to a single SubCat Group, which will expand the Product Group Name field to display the actual Product Name (rather than ‘All Others’) with their associated Margin, Sales & Profit values, and also show a ▼ icon.

This will be achieved using Parameter Actions, for which we need a parameter :

Selected Sub Category Group

String parameter defaulted to ”

Display this parameter on the sheet, as we can start to test the interactivity ‘manually’ without the need for the dashboard. What the dashboard action will do is on ‘click’, it will be set to populate the value of this parameter with the associated SubCat Group value. We can then do some checks based off of this and set various fields accordingly. It means we need to revisit some of the fields.

First up let’s set the arrow….

Edit Product Group Header to be

IF [Selected SubCat Group] = MIN([SubCat Group]) THEN
IF [Margin Rank] > [PRODUCTS TO SHOW] THEN ‘▼’ ELSE ” END
ELSEIF [Margin Rank] <= [PRODUCTS TO SHOW] THEN ”
ELSE ‘►’
END

Test this by entering the value of ‘Copiers’ into the Selected SubCat Group parameter. The arrow against ‘All Others’ should change.

We also need to change the value of the Product Name Group to show the actual Product Name on selection, so

edit the Product Name Group

IF [Margin Rank] <= MIN([PRODUCTS TO SHOW])
THEN ATTR([Product Name])
ELSE
IF [Selected SubCat Group] = MIN([SubCat Group])
THEN ATTR([Product Name])
ELSE ‘All Others’ END
END

Again test this out by changing the value in the parameter.

But we need to make more rows show too, so

edit Show?

([Margin Rank] <= MIN([PRODUCTS TO SHOW]) + 1) OR (MIN([SubCat Group]) =[Selected SubCat Group])

The values of our measures are still the totals though, so we need to edit these fields to

Grouped Sales

IF ([Margin Rank]<= MIN([PRODUCTS TO SHOW]) OR ([Selected SubCat Group] = MIN([SubCat Group])) ) THEN SUM([Sales]) ELSE [Sales For Others] END

Grouped Profit

IF ([Margin Rank]<= MIN([PRODUCTS TO SHOW]) OR ([Selected SubCat Group] = MIN([SubCat Group])) ) THEN SUM([Profit]) ELSE [Profit For Others] END

Grouped Margin

IF ([Margin Rank] <= MIN([PRODUCTS TO SHOW]) OR ([Selected SubCat Group]=MIN([SubCat Group]))) THEN [Margin] ELSE [Margin For Others] END

However while this works if you play with setting and clearing the parameter on the sheet, it won’t quite fully work if added as a dashboard action, as while the action can set the parameter we can’t ‘clear it’.

We need to ‘tie’ the parameter action to another field

SubCat Group for Reset

IF [Selected SubCat Group] = MIN([SubCat Group]) THEN ”
ELSE MIN([SubCat Group])
END

Add this to the Detail shelf (if you want to see how it changes based on the parameter value, add it to the Rows and test changing the parameter).

It needs to be on the sheet so it can be referenced from the dashboard action.

Adding the Action

Add the sheet to a dashboard, then add Parameter Action as below where the Target Parameter is Selected SubCat Group and the field it references is SubCat Group for Reset

And after all that, you should have a working solution. Phew!

Pretty pleased I got there without taking a detour 🙂 The table just now needs various formatting applied, which I’m going to leave to you to do 🙂 Just tweet me if you’re having problems!

The parameter action may be confusing you a bit – it took a while to really get my head round it, so I’ve tried to explain this a bit more below…

How the parameter action works

On initial load of the sheet, the Selected SubCat Group parameter is blank. So for the SubCat Group = Copiers, the SubCat Group for Reset will also be Copiers as SubCat Group is not the same as Selected SubCat Group parameter. Other fields are also set based on the fact these two fields aren’t the same (like the arrow pointing to the right etc).

When the right arrow is clicked on the dashboard, the value of SubCat Group for Reset is used to populate the Selected SubCat Group parameter. So in this example, Selected SubCat Group will now contain the value Copiers. As the Selected SubCat Group parameter is now the same as the SubCat Group, various fields change their behaviour (like the arrow now points down, and more rows are displayed). But also, the value of the SubCat Group for Reset is also changed; as the SubCat Group is the same as the Selected Sub Cat Group parameter, SubCat Group for Reset now contains a blank string.

So at the point the down arrow is now clicked again on the dashboard, the value of the SubCat Group for Reset is again used to populate the Selected SubCat Group parameter. As SubCat Group for Reset is blank, then the parameter will now be populated with a blank value, and so all the login in the fields will be based on the fact that SubCat Group is not the same as the Selected SubCat Group parameter, and the table will display just as it did on first load.

Hope that helps to demystify what’s going on… it’s certainly helped me!

Thanks for sticking with me if you got this far 🙂

The version of the challenge I built while writing this (my 3rd published version) is here.

Happy vizzin’! Stay Safe!

Donna

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