A quick guide to common time frames in business reporting

If you evaluate KPIs and business metrics using SMART criteria then you already know that the last item concerns your reporting time frame. When do you plan on achieving the goal set out in your KPI? Over what time frame will you measure progress towards this goal?

As you may well know, applying different time frames to your data can yield dramatically different results. For example, if you monitor leads on monthly basis, comparing your current month's performance (in which the data set is still populating) to your previous month's performance is difficult. It may be more appropriate for you to compare the current 30 day period to the previous 30 day period.

There are three important models for tracking metrics: historic, X-to-Date, and moving/rolling metrics.

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Historic time frames

Historic time frames have a fixed start and end date and represent a complete data set. For example, last year, last quarter, last month, or yesterday. Historic metrics are fixed and can only be compared to other historic metrics. It's also worth noting that historic metrics tend to look at longer time periods, such as weeks, months, quarters or years.

Common time frames

  • Last Fiscal Year
  • Last Year
  • Last Quarter
  • Last Month


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X-to-Date time frames

X-to-date time frames have a fixed start date with a moving or rolling end date. For example, year-to-date, quarter-to-date, or month-to-date. This type of measurement is common, particularly in sales, marketing and financial reporting. X-to-date time frames are more tactical as they provide information on your current performance.

Common time frames

  • Year-to-date (YTD)
  • Quarter-to-date
  • Month-to-date (MTD)


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Moving or rolling time frames

Moving or rolling time frames have a fluid start and end date. For example, the past 24hrs or past 30 days. This type of time frame is generally captured in real time to provide a current view of performance. It's important that when comparing two rolling time frames that you take care to ensure the reporting period is similar, eg, the same number of weekends and weekdays.

Common time frames

  • Past 90 days (p90d)
  • Past 30 day (p30d)
  • Past 24 hours (p24h)


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