1. Modeling
  2. Dimensions

A dimension is a data item, measure, or characteristic that you can calculate or manipulate. Dimensions enable you to answer business questions; observe trends; or assess What If situations for planning purposes. You can add as many dimensions as you need to define the business case in your model.

When building models, you can start with a top-down or a bottom-up approach. Either way, you will need to identify the facts about your business case: the lists of locations, products, people, etc. that make up your organization. The lists in themselves do not convey much information about your business. It’s the application of line items and properties, alongside the built-in dimensions of Time, Versions, Users, and Organization, that enable you to ‘see’ your organization in different ways.

Let’s say you have been collecting data that contribute to the Total Operating Expenses for your organization. That data has come from Departments (a list) in different Geographic locations (another list) and is broken down into Salary, Benefits, Travel, Marketing, and Overheads (line items). You have collected this data over Time (Time is a default dimension) and have also developed Budget and Variance versions of the data (Versions is a default dimension).

Each italicized word in the paragraph above is a dimension of the organization’s Total Operating Expenses. Total Operating Expenses is a dimension of Gross Profit which is another dimension of the finances of your organization. These dimensions describe your data and the functions associated with it. Examining the data by time or versions enables you to clearly see what has happened; predict what may happen; and construct scenarios to analyze how things might be changed to achieve an outcome.

You can create as many line items as you need in a module to:

  • build an accurate representation of your business,
  • aggregate values,
  • develop different scenarios, and
  • drive reporting.

Default dimensions

When a new module is created, Anaplan automatically adds three dimensions: lists, time, and versions. When applied to the data in your lists, they enable you to:

  • manipulate or view your data in different timeframes;
  • see information for the entire organization or just a part of it;
  • see actual figures as well as projected figures.
  • use the currently logged in user as a filter for data selection—for details, see Current User Filter.

These built-in dimensions enable a basic view of your data which you can then expand and manipulate.

Add dimensions

You can add any number of dimensions: lists, list subsets, line items, or line item subsets.

Nested dimensions

Dimensions can be nested up to a maximum of three levels on either columns or rows. The order of the dimensions (in the Columns or Rows boxes in Pivot) will determine the way they display on the grid.

Pivot dimensions

Anaplan modules display dimensions in rows and columns on a grid and on page selectors. When a new dimension is added, an existing dimension is removed, or the data is pivoted, the dimensionality of the module is changed, enabling you to see your data from different viewpoints.

To illustrate, we’ll return to our example about Total Operating Expenses. Let’s say you used Pivot to place the default dimensions, Versions and Organization on page selectors on the grid. You decided to put Time on columns and Salary, Benefits, Travel, Marketing, and Overheads on rows:

If you decided you wanted to see the figures by location, you can, in Pivot, move Time to a page selector, and Organization to columns:

You can now see more detail about the performance of each region, rather than an aggregated figure for a particular point in time.

Users list as a dimension

The Users list can be added as a dimension in a module. If you're a workspace administrator, all users with model access are shown, except for those who are assigned the No Access role.

Blueprint – Start of Section

The Start of Section option, in Blueprint, enables you to change the dimensionality of line items within the module. If you need to create a subsidiary view for a range of line items, because only a subset of the dimension is required, you can use Start of Section.

However, this does mean that the order of line items in Blueprint must be maintained, you could inadvertently change the dimensionality of the module by re-ordering the list of line items again.

Change dimensionality

  1. In Blueprint, find the line item where you want the dimensionality to change.
  2. Select Start of Section.
  3. Select a list from the drop-down in the Applies To field.
    Any line items, from this point forward, with a dash in the Applies To field, will now take their dimensionality from the list specified when selecting Start of Section.

This process can be repeated as many times as required.