Displaying Key Performance Metrics or KPI’s can take on many forms. They can be listed in a presentation document or in a table.  They can also be visualized via imagery. Oftentimes, business managers who monitor and hold responsibility for the Metrics can glean more perspective when viewing them in pictures rather than in text. A number of charts can be used to exhibit magnitude, distance, over/under achievement, and progress toward a goal.  A barbell chart is one option for exhibiting the gap or distance between two Metrics.

According to this Tableau Knowledge Base post for How to Create a Barbell Chart, this chart-type is also known as a dumbbell chart, DNA chart, and connected dot chart. Nomatter the name, they are easily recognizable as a way to display two separate Metrics along the same Measure axis, with a connecting line between them to show magnitude of difference.

Dual axis chart using gantt and circle charts

In this example, we’ve used publicly available election data to exhibit the vote count between two candidates.  We’ve added Parameter selection to enable users to choose between different “metrics” (in this case, candidates) as an added feature but the two Metrics could be fixed as well.  We also added dynamic sorting based on parameter selection indicating “perspective” (in this case, Democratic or Republican votes).

Barbell charts are a great way to show two Metrics across multiple “territories” (in this case, 159 Georgia counties) and to enable multiple perspectives in terms of sorting by “team” (in this case, party).

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