Target-Based Variance

About the narrative

Details covered in the analysis

The length of the narrative and the level of detail it includes depends on which narrative length option is selected in Step 3.

For example, when Important things is selected, variance analysis of the measure is performed based on a threshold parameter, the value of which is selected by the user to be applied across all levels of drilldown. Two types of thresholds are supported: Top-N and Coverage. (See Configuration options for details.) When Summary is selected, only the main driver is described. When Tell me everything is selected, all drivers and offsets are described.

The narrative will also include some or all of the following:

  • an introductory section summarizing the variance between the actual value and the target value of a measure (e.g. Sales and Actual Sales). For example:

  • for the highest-priority dimension (e.g. Product), a section for each instance of that dimension (e.g. Karateon), drilled down by up to two other dimensions (e.g. Segment and Country), which highlights the most significant insights. For example:


The narrative wording depends on the selected aggregation types, referring, for example, to total, average, minimum or maximum values. For the Percentage, Rating and Ratio entity types, total values are omitted from the narrative as it does not make sense to sum up non-additive measures.



Data requirements

All NLG Apps have the same data requirements relating to supported formats and field names. See the NLG Apps Data requirements topic for details.

In addition, each app has specific data requirements:

If your data selection and configuration do not meet the specific requirements for a particular app, the app is grayed out and disabled in the wizard. In this example, the Describe a Pie Chart app has been disabled:


Dimensions and measures

This app can analyze:

  • up to three non-time dimensions and two measures.

Minimum requirement: two measures.


Select one measure for the Actual value in the analysis, and another measure for the Target/Budget value.


Aggregation and entity types

Not all combinations of aggregation and entity types are supported for measures. The Target-Based Variance app can analyze the following combinations:



Aggregation types are set in Power BI.

Entity types and other data attributes are set in Step 1 of the Arria for Power BI wizard.


The Don't summarize aggregation type cannot be used with a dataset containing rows with duplicate combinations of dimension instances, as shown in the rows highlighted in red in this example:


Here, the dataset contains two rows with the same combination of dimension instances: Jane and Math for the dimensions Student and Subject.


Arria Answers currently supports only the Sum aggregation type and the None and Currency entity types. When switching from an NLG Apps narrative to Arria Answers, make sure the measures chosen to generate the narrative meet these requirements. If they don't, Arria Answers will return incorrect responses.



Configuration options

The following options are available to configure:





Select the measure that represents the actual value you want to compare to the target or budget value.

Default: first measure listed in Step 1.



Select the measure that represents the target or budget value you want to compare with the actual value.

Default: second measure listed in Step 1.


Entity Selection


This option is applied only when Summary and Important things is selected in Step 3.

Top: Limit the number of drivers and offsets described in your narrative to the top ‘x’ contributors. E.g., “The top three performing regions were…”.

Default: 1.

Coverage: Report on only those drivers and offsets that contributed to a certain percentage of the variance.

Default: 50%.