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The Bedford Coach - Time Ranges




In my opinion, the (relatively) recent addition of the time ranges functionality is one of the most useful enhancements to Anaplan and has a wide range of applications and benefits.


Anaplan definition:


A time range is a user-defined contiguous range of time periods that can be applied to any module or line item to restrict the range of periods into which data can be entered or displayed. Defined in units of fiscal year, they determine the periods for which data will be stored, held in memory and recalculated. Each time range is an independent entity with a Start Period and a defined Number of Periods in years. Time ranges are measured in units of financial year. They are not tied to the current financial year, or to the number of past or future years configured for the Model Calendar. The start point of a time range is tied to the Fiscal Year Start Month of the Model Calendar. If this value is changed, all time ranges will realign accordingly.


The basics


Creating a time range


In the Time Settings, there is a tab for Time Ranges:




To create a new time range, click on the ‘New’ button:




In the pop-up box, add the name. Best practice is to include details of the years that are included and any information about summary types, e.g. FY18&19 or FY20-22 with Qtrs.





Editing a time range




Add additional Periods (Financial years), amend the start date, add aggregation types etc.




Deleting Time Ranges is also done using the same selections as above. Please note that all references to the relevant Time Range need to be deleted before the Time Range itself can be removed. You can see if/where Time Ranges are in use in the Modules Settings section:





Typical use cases


Removing sparsity in modules which only include actuals or forecasts


If you use a module to import or stage actuals which are then linked to a module which combines actuals and forecasts, you can use time ranges to only include periods that are relevant. In the example below, I have created a module where I want to only include Actuals, so I have created a time range for the prior year only.





Please note that the time ranges do not update relative to the current period/year, so if you want to add more years this would need to be done by editing the time range.


Summary reporting for long-term plans


You may not need to include months in summary reporting for some reports, and you may want to add years that are not included in the main model calendar. If you can generate a long-term plan at yearly level then you can avoid using a module with months as a timescale for some of those year. In the example below I have created a Time Range called FY18-21 in order to create a 3Yr plan that uses the data that I have in my Actuals and Forecast module (where I can calculate detailed monthly forecasts) as a starting point and generate long-term forecasts without needing monthly granularity.



Other summary reporting e.g. Quarterly summaries


There is an opportunity to save some space by not using quarterly summaries in the Time Settings if the majority of modules will not require them. In the example below I have created a Time range that mirrors the model calendar, but that has Quarterly summaries switched on. This can then be used to summarise all the required information.




I have pulled the data in from the ‘Actuals and forecasts’ module which does not have quarterly summaries into a line item in my summary module called ‘monthly data’, and then summarised the data into Quarters.




Another potential use case would be where you want to generate data for non-continuous years, e.g. FY25 only, or to create filter modules where the aggregation types are different to the main time calendar.


Other items to note:


You can have as many time ranges and overlapping time ranges as you require, each of which can have customised aggregation methods.


Time ranges are supported by Application Lifecycle Management but cannot be marked as production data.


Time ranges cannot be used if the Time Settings are of the Weeks: General calendar type.


Summary


Time ranges enable model builders to go beyond what was previously possible and have diverse applications, while making it possible to save significant amounts of space with appropriate applications. Just remember to update them in line with the model calendar. Happy Anaplanning!

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