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Tableau Review
It allowed us to easily monitor adherence to workflows.


Valuable Features:

The speed with which it is possible to explore data is, for me, the best thing about Tableau. By this, I mean it is extremely easy to drill into data, which in turn shortens the time from having raw data to having useful, actionable insights. The aesthetics of the dashboards and adherence to data visualization best practices by default is also great.

Improvements to My Organization:

Our organization’s workflows dictate that the front desk staff are supposed to collect demographic data from our customers. However, we knew that this was not happening. Tableau allowed us to very easily monitor which staff members were adhering to these workflows and which weren't. We could then do very targeted re-training of those staff members who needed it.

Room for Improvement:

Two major improvements that I would like to see:
- A better/quicker interface for formatting graphs and dashboards. The current design takes too much time and doesn't really allow for the same formatting to be applied globally across all of the visualization.
- Improved data formatting prior to visualization. I do know that some improvements are coming with the next major release - for instance, the ability to join data across disparate data source types (e.g. joining CSV and SQL Server DB) - but this is currently a major limitation.

Use of Solution:

I have been using it for 2.5 years.

Deployment Issues:

For the most part, we have not had any real issues here. That said, our "biggest" data is 10 million rows of mostly discrete data, so we aren't pushing the envelope.

Technical Support:

Customer service and technical support have been very good for us. It's worth mentioning that the community forums are VERY active and will often provide answers from Tableau Masters faster than actual Tableau support can respond.

Previous Solutions:

In late 2013, we tested QlikView Desktop and Yellowfin Analytics. They did not seem quite as powerful at the time. However, I have not evaluated those products since. In early 2016, I explored Microsoft Power BI and found the interface clunky compared to Tableau. It is, however, much cheaper.

Initial Setup:

We found setup straightforward with relatively few surprises. We did have to work through some issues with drivers to connect to a SQL Server 2008 database, which customer support did help with.

Implementation Team:

We had an in-house implementation (4 desktop licenses, 25 server licenses) and found learning Tableau to be relatively easy for our dedicated analysts (the desktop users). The biggest difficulty we found was getting the Tableau Server users to actually log in to look at the dashboards that we had created for them - often providing them with the data they requested. Getting the adoption by the business decision-makers was the hard part (and obviously that is a problem that would apply to any BI tool).

ROI:

While I don't have specific $$ numbers, I can say that several reports that we were maintaining previously in Excel that took 4-5 hours to be updated manually each month, now can be updated in 20 seconds. I do think that this would probably be true of any of the products similar to Tableau available on the market now.

Other Advice:

The video tutorials available on the Tableau site are very helpful. We spent many hours watching both the step-by-step tutorials as well as the broader webinars highlighting an organization Tableau use case for education and ideas on novel dashboards/metrics to develop.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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