Are your variance amounts good or bad? Learn how to tell at a glance

Last time, we showed you how to use the Layout Generator Calculator to create custom calculations to cater for your reporting needs. To take it a step further, we want to introduce the Set Variance feature in the Calculator and show you how you can visually distinguish between good and bad variances.

The Set Variance feature changes the format of variance amounts in your report layouts to give you a visual indication of whether a variance is good or bad. In our example we compare a layout where a good and bad variance are formatted the same, with one where the bad variance is formatted differently to make it easier to distinguish between a good and a bad variance amount.

This tip applies to:

  • Sage 50-U.S. Edition 2015 Intelligence Reporting
  • Sage Evolution Version 7 Intelligence Reporting
  • Sage Pastel Partner Version 14 Intelligence Reporting
  • Sage 300 ERP 2014 Intelligence Reporting

The Set Variance feature is available in the Calculator when creating column calculations. Remember that to open the Calculator to create a column calculation, first make sure the columns tab is selected in the Layout Generator and then select Add Calculation.







Below is an excerpt from an Actual versus Budget Income Statement which includes Actual, Budget and Variance amounts for Sales and Cost of Sales in period one (01). In this case, variance is a calculation of Actual minus Budget and Set Variance has not been activated.

  • In the Sales row, the variance amount is a positive value and is a good variance because we would like our Sales income to be greater than our Budgeted income.
  • In the Cost of Sales row the variance amount is shown as a positive value but it is actually a bad variance because we would prefer our expenses to be less than what was budgeted.

In this instance you cannot see, at a glance, that one variance is a good and the other is a bad.





Let’s look at the same example, this time with Set Variance selected. You can see quite clearly in the image below that the format of the value of the bad variance has changed.




One important thing to note is that the Set Variance feature is based on the Switch Sign property of account rows in the Layout Generator. To switch the sign of a row:

  • Navigate to your rows by selecting the rows tab
  • Right click on the row that you want to change the sign of and select Toggle Switch Sign. Two small arrows are placed at the bottom right hand corner of a row to indicate that the sign has changed.







Typically, you would change the sign of rows like Sales and Other Income as these contain credit amounts which are usually captured as negative values in the underlying data.

There are a few more customizations that the Layout Generator Calculator allows you to perform in your layouts which we want to share with you. Stay tuned!