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Last actual date

Last actual date is a model-level setting in Causal that represents your latest month (or week if in a weekly model) of "actual" historic data.
  • The Last actual date determines when data is pulled in up until in your model/s. Whenever there is not data present (usually only beyond the Last actual date), Causal will fall back to the formula to determine the value you see in each month.
  • Charts, trend lines, and time step column headers show forecast periods (beyond the Last actual date) as dashed. The Actuals version includes only months up to (including) the Last actual date.

How do I update the Last actual date? (i.e. roll forward)

Click the Last actual date in the header, select the new month, and then choose which data sources to refresh (across current and linked models), and which linked models you want to roll the Last actual date forwards for.
  • By default all data sources and all models are selected (so everything moves in tandem), but in case you have a more complex situation, you have the flexibility to pick & choose here.
  • You also have the option to save a version before you roll forward. This will be saved as (for example) “Latest Oct ‘23 forecast” (depending on which month you save it).
If you roll the Last actual date back in time, Causal will cut off any months of data after the Last actual. This is useful for instance if you rolled forward but then realised your books weren’t closed, or the data wasn’t ready yet.

FAQ

How do I set the Last actual date in the first place?
  • The Last actual date is automatically set when you connect data to a model for the first time (and the date is in the past).
  • If you do not have data connected to your model/s (e.g. if you hardcode your historic months in), you can turn on the Last actual date in the time settings (up the top right of the model workspace).
What will happen if I have data beyond the Last actual date in my data sources?
Even if you have data beyond the Last actual date in your data source, Causal will not pull it into your model until you roll the Last actual date forward (we’ll give you a blue dot next to the current Last actual date to let you know, though!)
What if I want to bring in forecast months as data, from a data source outside of Causal?
What if some data items within a model have data up to different points in time?
If you are missing months of data for any data items immediately before (and including) the Last actual date, Causal will fall back to the formula for variables connected to those data items for those months.
Who can change the Last actual date?
What happens if I refresh data but did not do so via the Last Actual Date header? (e.g. via auto-refresh, or directly on the data source)
  • If you refreshed, and there is now data present beyond the current Last actual date, we will show you a blue dot next to the current Last actual date to let you know there is data available. Once you update the Last actual date, the new data will flow into the model/s.
  • If you refreshed and data changed for any historic months (up to and including the last actual date), this data will be reflected immediately in the model/s.
What happens if I’ve updated my Last actual date but my data source/s takes awhile to refresh?
  • Most data sources refresh within <1-2 minutes. However, some larger data sources may take longer. In these instances, you may have a new Last Actual Date, but no data being pulled in for it yet. Causal will show a moving refresh icon in the header next to the new Last Actual Date in any model connected to a refreshing data source.
  • If you know your data sources take awhile to refresh, you could instead refresh the data source first, and then update the last actual once the refresh is finished.
What if I want to restrict months of data, but just for one data source (not all) in a model?
What if I don’t use the Last Actual Date at all?
No worries! Data will flow into the model/s its connected to as and when its refreshed, up to whatever months / time steps the data source has data for. Note that there will be no automatic visual distinction between historic months in time step headers or charts, and you will not be able to use the Last Actual helper variable or Actuals version.