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Creating a Chart Report in Operate
Creating a Chart Report in Operate

Build chart reports for simpler data visualisation

Stuart avatar
Written by Stuart
Updated over a week ago


Chart reports provide you with a variety of visual representations of your data, so that you can better understand your business and make appropriate decisions. This article will help you see how they work and how to create your own.

Please note that you need to either be an Administrator or have editor access to the Reports module to be able to create your own reports. Please see Operate User Access and Security Groups for further information.

Good to Know: An overview of the types of charts you can create

Operate can create the following types of charts:

  • Bar - This type presents categorical data using bars with heights or lengths that are proportional to the values that they represent. In Operate, you can create them both horizontally and vertically.

  • Line - Similarly to the bar chart, it allows you to display information as a series of data points, connected by straight lines.

  • Pie - This is a round graph that is divided into "slices" to represent numerical proportion out of a total.

  • Donut - (Also spelled "doughnut") - This is the same as a pie chart, but with a round area cut in the middle, which may be used to add more information about the data.

  • Funnel - This chart type may help visualize stages in a sales process and/or potential revenue streams.

  • Scattered - This type of chart uses dots to represent the coordinates where two sets of data intersect.

Step 1: Get Started

To get started creating a new chart report,

  • You will now be asked to select the type of report that you want to create. Please select Chart.

Step 2: Select Your Data Source Modules

  • On the next screen, you can select the data that you would like to include in your report. You can choose up to four connected modules. Please note that only some modules connect to each other. If there is no module connection, then it means that the data cannot be put together in a report, so Operate will not list any further module. On this screen, simply select where you need to pull data from, under the Module 1 column. Operate will then reveal the connected modules, under the Module 2 column. If there are further modules you can connect, then you will see them listed under the Module 3 and Module 4 columns.

  • Simply click on a module to select it. If there are connected modules, you will see them displayed in the next column. Click again to select, and do the same until you no longer see connected modules or your reach the fourth. You can stop at one, two or three modules - the connected modules are optional, but selecting them will allow you to narrow down the data. The broader your first module is, the more likely it is for you to see further connections. For example, if you start by selecting 'Locations' under 'Module 1', then 'Accounts' under 'Module 2', your report will be much broader than if you had selected 'Accounts' under 'Module 1'.

  • If you want your report to only include a module if it contains records, please enable 'Tick if module must contains records'. If there are no records, then your report will not list it at all. If you leave this option unticked, modules with no records will be displayed with no data.

  • When you are ready, click Save to continue.

Note on Invoice Lines

Under the 'Invoices and Credit Notes' module, you will find the 'Lines' module, where you have the option to prorate the charged amount by ticking the box next to this module. This option only works for charges across multiple months, as follows:

If you have a line on an invoice where the start date of the charge is 15/01/2020 and the end date is 14/02/2020 for a Total Price of £30, then:

  • The report will show the full £30 Total Price if you don't tick this box.

  • The report will show £15 in January and £15 in February, thus prorating the charge if you tick the option.

At the moment, the 'Lines' module is the only one with this option. When it is enabled, the prorate option will allow you to select an extra field on the report, called 'Line - Break Month', which lets you select the months separately as report filters and displays the charge corresponding to each respective month.

Step 3: Design Your Report

Once you select your datasource modules, the report builder screen will look similarly to the screenshot below, with your filters and data field selections at the top and a report preview at the bottom. Next, we will go through the steps you need to take to design your report.

Please keep in mind that chart reports work slightly differently from some of the other available types, in the sense that there will be no fields automatically added after selecting the datasource.

Please note that the report preview will only use 50 records. The full report will be available when you run it. Please keep this in mind while designing your report, because it might not reflect your data selection criteria. Moreover, when you enable/disable a report option, such as 3d chart, Show Data Labels, etc., the report might pick up a different sample, which could make it seem incorrect. To get a correct view of your data, please run the report.

Please also note that reports are limited to a maximum of 10.000 records when running, emailing or exporting them. If any of your reports contains more records, you can get the full data by scheduling it.

3.1. Select the Date Range

This is where you can select what date range should be considered by your report. The first dropdown allows you to select the module upon which your dates are based. Then you can also select the exact period that the report should consider. There are several available options, including the ability to select 'All time' or to customize your date range.

3.2. Select Fields

You can add fields to the report as:

  • Values - These fields will pull the main data that you want to show in your report. You will be able to group this data using the fields you add as groups.

  • Groups - The fields you select here will create row groups of data within your report. These will create a column for each field and separate the report into groups. When you add a Row Group, a Column will be added as well. You can remove it if you like - Please see the section on Customizing Report Fields (below) for further information.

  • X-Axis - When you add fields to the X-axis of a chart, the data they contain will be used to form this axis of the chart.

The available field categories differ, according to the chart type you are using:

  • Bar and line charts, as well as scattered graphs will use all field categories: values, groups and x-axis.

  • Pie, donut and funnel charts only use groups and values, as they do not require an x-axis to be represented.

To add a new field:

  • Click the "+" sign next to the fields category to which you would like to add the new field. For example, let's add a Value field.

  • Next, you can either search for the field you want to add or click the "+" sign next to the module that you want to add the field from. This will expand the module and show you a list of available fields. Your search will list results from all modules which might contain a particular field corresponding to your keyword. Please note that a particular field might be associated to more than one module: e.g.: Account Name.

  • Now tick the box next to the field you want to add. Unless you are adding a value field, you have several options: If your fields are numerical, you can choose to display a sum total of values, the minimum or maximum value; or an average. If they are string fields (containing both letters and numbers), then you may choose the Min/Max options to get the smallest or largest value alphabetically. (e.g. if you have products from A to Z and choose to display 'Min', the report will list the first product record alphabetically. The 'Max' option will do the reverse, displaying the last record alphabetically.)

  • If a field has help text added to it, you will see this as a tooltip next to the field, as shown below.

  • You can also create your own custom calculated field, by clicking 'Add Calculated Field'. Learn more about this by reading the dedicated article.

  • You can add several fields in one go, without having to save them separately. Your selections will be kept even if you search for other fields.

  • Click Save when you are ready and your new fields will be added to the report.

  • You can add the same field twice if you like, only that you will need to add and save it before adding it again.

3.3. Customize Report Fields

You can make the following changes to report fields:

  • Remove by clicking the red "x" icon next to either the field entry under the Values, Groups or X-Axis areas at the top of your report builder.

  • Edit the properties by clicking the gear icon on the field entry. This will take you to a screen that lets you edit several aspects related to that field's labeling and behavior.

  • In the properties of a field, you can change the field label, choose to hide it, choose a sort order, select to show a summary, the minimum, maximum or average value. All of these options can be labeled so you can easily distinguish them onto the report. Please make sure to save any changes you make, if you would like to enable them! Each field comes with its own option, depending on its type; therefore the options are not the same on all fields.

Please note: If you update a field label, you will not lose track of where the data comes from. Simply hover over the tooltip next to the field label and you will see the actual field name and the module it belongs to.

Step 4: Visualise

The report screen allows you to adjust several visualisation option, as follows:

  • Show the report title - This will display the name of the report (which you can edit in the report settings)

  • Show the chart title - this is automatically generated according to the field labels assigned to Values and (for charts with an X-Axis) to Group, in this order (e.g.: Balance by Client Type).

  • Display filter criteria - this option will add information about the filters that have been applied to the report upon creation; so that your staff get a more accurate representation of what data is included or not. This also takes effect on the preview and print views (pdf or excel).

  • 3d Chart will turn a flat chart into a 3d one. Here is an example:

  • Legend - With options to display none, to the left or to the right of the main chart. The legend will show data labels and associate the appropriate color to it.

  • Show data labels has the same function as the legend only that it will display the labels on the chart itself instead of on the side.

  • (If you hover over a chart segment, the corresponding data label will be displayed regardless of whether this option is enabled or not. This is only a browser navigation option and will not reflect in print.)

  • Allow Drill Downs lets you click into data that represents a record in Operate and see where the report information has been retrieved from. For example, if you have a report on Accounts, then you will have the option to click and see the Account record that generated a particular set of data.

Note: Pie/Donut Chart specific options

If you are working with a pie or donut chart, you can use the Sliced option, displayed in the report options area. This turns a full circle chart into 'slices' for each proportion it represents. Here is an example of a sliced vs. unsliced pie chart:

Step 5: Customize

5.1. Apply Quick Filters

Quick Filters allow you to narrow down the data in your report. These filters will be made available on the report in View Mode, to help your employees filter data as well. However, they cannot be edited if access is not granted.

To apply Quick Filters, click the Quick button at the top right of your report screen.

The Quick Filter screen allows you to:

  • Limit results to user's allocated location - Ticking this box will limit the data in the report to what belongs to the Locations to which the user is associated. This is useful for situations when you need to allow your employees to run reports, but limit access. Please note that this filter will only work if you apply at least one of the filters below. For example, if you select a particular Organization, then enabling the Location limit will only show e.g. Accounts which have a Client Type associated to your selected Organization and assigned to the user's Location. Location access can be set from the User Profile.

  • Filter by: Organization, Location, Client Type, Account, Product Group or Product. The latter two are only available if your report contains products. There will be filters available for each module included in your report and will restrict the data that it displays to that which fulfills your filtering criteria.

  • If you choose to use a particular filter, for example 'Organization', then you will have the option to choose a particular module and filter among the Organizations where it is being used. Once you select the module, you can choose to show 'All Organizations' or 'Selected Organizations' - in which case a 'Select Organizations' button will be displayed.

  • Click 'Select Organizations' if you want to do so. This takes you to a screen where you can choose from the Organizations that your business is using in Operate.

  • Use the Search box on the right to find the Organization you need. Tick the box next to it to select.

  • Click Save to save your changes; or Cancel to exit the screen without saving.

  • Click Clear Organization Filter if you would like to start over.

5.2. Advanced Filters

Advanced Filters allow you to narrow down your data even further, using virtually any field from within Operate. These filters are similar to those in your list views, for example.

Advanced Filters are not available to Operate users who do not have Reports Editing permission.

To use Advanced Filters, please click the Advanced button at the top of your report.

This screen will allow you to select from a variety of fields to filter by, as well as operation criteria and values.

  • The Field Name will allow you to select from all fields included within your report's selected modules.

  • The Operation includes a number of criteria that the field should fulfill, such as: equals/not equal to, starts with/contains, less than/greater than; etc.

  • The Value is the criterion that you Operation will work against. When selecting values, you will be asked to enter it in a text box, select from a dropdown or tick a box, depending on the type of your selected field.

Use the Add New button to add more filters.

Use the Remove button to remove a filter.

Use the Add Logic button to specify AND and OR conditions for your filters, which change the default AND relationship between each filter.

  • AND ties two fields together, so that your report contains both or all fields (e.g.: 1 AND 2 AND 3).

  • OR will make your report display either one field or the other; depending on your selection. (e.g.: 1 OR 2 OR 3).

  • You can combine AND and OR into more complex expressions; in which case you can use parentheses.

NOTE on date related filters:

When you select a date related field such as: Creation Date, Enquiry Date, etc; the filter will display a Value textbox which needs to be populated with one of the following values:

  • NOW

















Simply enter the text in uppercase and the filter will apply.

You can also use a specific date if you like, by entering the date in this format: yyyy-mm-dd.

Click Save to save the filters or Cancel to return to the report editor without saving.

When you have applied Advanced Filters, the button will show how many there are, so you know at a glance that your report data is filtered.

There is no limit to the number of Advanced Filters you can apply.

Step 6. Save Your Report

Once your design is ready, click Save, at the top right of the screen.

Name your report and select the folder where you'd like to store it, then click on Save.

Switching between chart types

There are a few things to keep in mind when you switch report types:

Your data might be well represented by one chart type, but not as well by another.

You may need to use a particular chart type, depending on the data you want to represent. For instance, if you want to compare between categories, bar charts are great. Line charts are very well suited for historical evolution, scattered graphs for more complex statistics, pie and donut charts for proportion visualisation, funnels for sales and revenue. However, these examples are not a one-size-fits all either. We recommend that you look at your data and try several types, until you find an approach which represents it best.

The chart setup may be different from the one you started with

As discussed above during our field category description, each chart type comes with its own data setup. The main difference is that if you start from a chart type that contains an x-axis, the fields you configured on it will not show on a pie, donut or funnel chart. These will need to be reconfigured so that they reflect the data you may want to display. The process may involve adding and/or deleting fields you added to one chart type, but don't see or need in another.

You will not lose fields unless you switch to a chart without an X-Axis and save

Fields are kept when you switch chart types. The only ones excepted are those on the X-Axis, which is not added to pie, donut and funnel charts. If you create a report using one of the chart types with an X-Axis, then you switch and save as one without, then the fields will be removed upon saving and you will need to add them again if you decide to switch back to a chart with an X-Axis.

Fields are also lost if you delete a field from anywhere on the chart, then save the report after having deleted it.

Example reports and adjustments to make between chart types

Using a simple example setup which groups the report by Location, categorizes by Client type on the X-Axis and retrieves the Account Balance as a value, we can build reports as follows:

Bar Chart (Horizontal and Vertical):

Line Chart

As you can see, the X-Axis is horizontal on this chart type. If you have initially configured your report as a bar chart and want to switch to a line but the data no longer looks representative, you may want to reconsider your fields as well, since not all chart types can display all types of fields.

Below is an example of plotting the balance per client type, using a line chart. Such an example might not be an ideal visualization for everyone. A line chart is very well suited to represent evolutions, therefore you might want to have dates on one of your axes, for example.

Scattered graphs

We continue with this chart type because it behaves similarly to the line chart and comes with the same considerations.

Pie and Donut Charts

These will display the proportion that certain categories represent out of a total. Here is an example of balances per client type at a location:

Funnel Chart

This chart displays potential revenue coming from certain categories. In the example below, it is based on the balance of accounts belonging to specific client types.

Inserting a Chart into other Report Types

You can attach a chart to any other reports types, either at the end of the report (for tabular, summary and matrix report types) or at the end of a row group (on summary and matrix reports only, as tabulars do not have row groups). Please see Attaching a Chart to other Report Types for details.

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