Analyzing Financial Data in QlikView

In this article by Diane Blackwood, author of the book QlikView for Finance, the author talks about how QlikView is an easy-to-use business intelligence product designed to facilitate ad hoc relationship analysis. However, it can also be used in formal corporate performance applications by a financial user. It is designed to use a methodology of direct discovery to analyze data from multiple sources. QlikView is designed to allow you to do your own business discovery, take you out of the data management stage and into the data relationship investigation stage. Investigating relationships and outliers in financial data more can lead to effective management.

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You could use QlikView when you wish to analyze and quickly see trends and exceptions that — with normal financial application-oriented BI products—would not be readily apparent without days of consultant and technology department setup. With QlikView, you can also analyze data relationships that are not measured in monetary units. Certainly, QlikView can be used to analyze sales trends and stock performance, but other relationships soon become apparent when you start using QlikView. Also, with the free downloadable personal edition of QlikView, you can start analyzing your own data right away.

QlikView consists of two parts:

  • The sheet: This can contain sheet objects, such as charts or list boxes, which show clickable information.
  • The load script: This stores information about the data and the data sources that the data is coming from.

Financial professionals are always using Excel to examine their data, and we can load data from an Excel sheet into QlikView. This can also help you to create a basic document sheet containing a chart. The newest version of QlikView comes with a sample Sales Order data that can be used to investigate and create sheet objects.

In order to use data from other file types, you can use the File Wizard (Type) that you start from the Edit Script dialog by clicking on the Table Files button.

Using the Edit Script dialog, you can view your data script and edit it in the script and add other data sources. You can also reload your data by clicking on the Reload button. If you just want to analyze data from an existing QlikView file and analyze the information in it, you do not need to work with the script at all.

We will use some sample financial data that was downloaded from an ERP system to Excel in order to demonstrate how an analysis might work. Our QlikView Financial Analysis of Cheyenne Company will appear as follows:

Qlikview for Finance

Figure 1: Our Financial Analysis QlikView Application

When we create objects for analysis purposes in QlikView, the drop-down menu shows that there are multiple sheet object types to choose from, such as List Box, Statistics Box, Chart, Input Box, Current Selections Box, MultiBox, Table Box, Button, Text Object, Line/Arrow Object, Slider/Calendar Object, and Bookmark Object.

In our example, we chose the Statistic Box Sheet object to add the grand total to our analysis. From this, we can see that the total company is out of balance by $1.59. From an auditor’s point of view, this amount is probably small enough to be immaterial, but, from our point of view as financial professionals, we want to know where our books are falling out of balance.

To make our investigation easier, we should add one additional sheet object: a List Box for Company. This is done by right-clicking on the context menu and selecting New Sheet object and then List Box.

Qlikview for Finance

Figure 2: Added Company List Box

We can now see that we are actually out of balance in three companies. Cheyenne Co. L.P. is a company out by $1.59, but Cheyenne Holding and Cheyenne National Inc. seem to have balancing entries that balance at the total companies’ level, but these companies don’t balance at the individual company level.

We can analyze our data using the list boxes just by selecting a Company and viewing the Account Groups and Cost Centers that are included (white) and excluded (gray). This is the standard color scheme usage of QlikView. Our selected company is shown in green and in the Current Selection Box.

By selecting Cheyenne Holding, we would be able to verify that it is indeed a holding company, does not have any manufacturing or sales accounting groups, or cost centers. Alternatively, if we choose Provo, we can see that it is in balance.

To load more than one spreadsheet or load from a different data source, we must edit load script.

From the Edit Script interface, we can modify and execute a script that connects the QlikView document to an ODBC data source or to data files of different type and grab the data source information as well.

Our first script was generated automatically, but scripts can be typed manually, or automatically generated scripts can be modified. Complex script statements must, at least partially, be entered manually. The Edit Script dialog uses autocomplete, so when typing, the program tries to predict what is wanted in the script without having to type it completely. The predictions include words that are part of the script syntax. The script is also color coded by syntax components. The Edit Script interface and behavior may be customized to your preferences by selecting Tools and Editor Preferences.

A menu bar is found at the top of the Edit Script dialog with various script-related commands. The most frequently used commands also appear in the toolbar. In the toolbar, there is also a drop-down list for the tabs of the Edit Script wizard.

The first script in the Edit Script interface is the automatically generated one that was created by the wizard when we started the QlikView file. The automatically generated script picks up the column names from the Excel file and puts in some default formatting scripting. The language selection that we made during the initial installation of QlikView determines the defaults assigned to this portion of the script.

We can add data from multiple sources, such as ODBC links, additional Excel files, sources from the Web, FTP, and even other QlikView files.

Our first Excel file, which we used to create the initial QlikView document, is already in our script. It happened to be October 2013 data, but suppose we wanted to add another month such as November data to our analysis? We would just navigate to the Edit Script interface from the File menu and then click on the script itself. Make sure that our cursor is at the bottom of the script after the first Excel file path and description. If you do not position your cursor where you want your additional script information to populate, you may generate your new script code in the middle of your existing script code. If you make a mistake, click on CANCEL and start over.

After navigating to the script location where you want to add your new code, click on the Table Files button after the script and towards the center right first button in the column. Click on NEXT through the next four screens unless you need to add column labels. Comments can be added to scripts using // for a single line or by surrounding the comment by a beginning /* and an ending */ and comments show up as green. After clicking on the OK button to get out of Script Editor, there is another File menu item that can be used to verify that QlikView has correctly interpreted the joins. This is the Table Viewer menu item. You cannot edit in the Table view, but it is convenient to visualize how the table fields are interacting.

Save the changes to the script by clicking on the OK button in the lower-right corner. Now, with the File menu, navigate to Edit Script and then to the Reload menu item and click on it to reload your data; otherwise, your new month of data will not be loaded. If you receive any error messages, the solutions can be researched in QlikView Help. In this case, the column headers were the same, so QlikView knew to add the data from the two spreadsheets together into one table. However, because of this, if we look at our Company List Box and Amount Statistics Box, we see everything added together.

Qlikview for Finance

Figure 3: Data Doubled after Reload with Additional File

The reason this data is doubled is that we do not have any way to split the months or only select October or November. Now that we have more than one month of data, we can add another List Box with the months. This will automatically link up to our Chart and Straight Table Sheet objects to separate our monthly data.

Once added, from our new List Box, we can select OCTOBER or NOVEMBER, and our sheet object automatically shows the correct sum of the individual months. We can then use the List Box and linked objects to further analyze our financial data.

Summary

You can find further find books on QlikView published by Packt on the Packt website http://www.packtpub.com. Some of them are listed as follows:

  • Learning QlikView Data Visualization by Karl Pover
  • Predictive Analytics using Rattle and QlikView by Ferran Garcia Pagans

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