BookmarkSubscribeRSS Feed

How to report on timelines using the SAS Visual Analytics Graph Builder

Started ‎03-07-2016 by
Modified ‎03-07-2016 by
Views 5,973

This article focuses on the SAS Visual Analytics (VA) Graph Building and how to use it for timeline reporting, like projects or events, etc. Last year I presented a paper at SAS Global Forum 2015 on the power of the custom graph builder in SAS VA. Since that time I’ve been asked many questions about possible use cases and how you can leverage other people’s custom graphs in your own SAS VA environment.



This is my first SAS communities article, which is exciting, and I hope you find this a useful and reusable graph template for your organisation.


I have chosen to work with project management visualizations as I work with many IT and business teams who run large and varied project portfolios. Each ERP allows for some management reporting and analysis, however these systems often need more data than is available in a single system. This is where VA comes in, and customers are finding that it can present all the data, from multiple systems (Project & Portfolio Management, Finance, HR etc.) in one environment.



The graph that I have chosen to look at today is the schedule, or resource graph. We are going to use an overlay of another couple of graphs: the bubble plot and scatter plot. By combining these three graphs, the project management office can access a simple-to-read element within its regular project report or dashboard.


The example data I am using looks at two projects over time and incorporates additional milestone dates, and on these dates, payments or costs are to be looked at and reported against the overall project task performance and timings. Now the custom graph in VA is only one part of this; the other part is leveraging standard report design options within VA. This means the template we create in the custom graph builder does some of the work and the other options to enrich the visual are done inside the report designer. These options include conditional styles to highlight when a project status is on track or not, and adjusting some of the template presets to best fit the data you have.


People that work with me know that I’m focused on communicating information in a clear and concise way but also looking at innovative ways to better engage stakeholders with a single glance. If a report user has a look at this visual and requires more information, then we provide drill-through links to other elements/reports for more information about what was clicked. To do this, we can use multidimensional data with exception highlighting to provide the most flexible and easy-to-maintain information products we can make.

In this example we can add payment dates or milestone dates and overlay these onto project timelines. I added the colour for some added information to show status of project tasks (see attached files). There are many more options when using a schedule graph as the base graph, like using the scatter plot top and add a circle centre on the exact date, or adding multiple scatter plots to overlay even more important dates onto the same timeline.


Screen shots of final graphs in the VA Report Viewer:



Or, you can adjust this using some VA report designer options, like changing default settings and adding reference lines:




Wrap up

Instead of a step-by-step guide, I have included the sample data, custom graph template and sample report package to allow you to use this template in your world. If you found this useful, please let me know as I do have plans to add more as the year goes on.


I would also be interested to see what you've done and how you've gotten the most from VA using the custom graph builder. Please share by leaving a comment below or post a message directly on the SAS Visual Analytics Community.



Created using SAS Visual Analytics 7.3

See Attachments: XLS data, SPK (zipped)



Version history
Last update:
‎03-07-2016 03:49 PM
Updated by:



Registration is open! SAS is returning to Vegas for an AI and analytics experience like no other! Whether you're an executive, manager, end user or SAS partner, SAS Innovate is designed for everyone on your team. Register for just $495 by 12/31/2023.

If you are interested in speaking, there is still time to submit a session idea. More details are posted on the website. 

Register now!

Free course: Data Literacy Essentials

Data Literacy is for all, even absolute beginners. Jump on board with this free e-learning  and boost your career prospects.

Get Started

Article Labels
Article Tags