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Tableau Review
It has allowed analysts to “connect” more with the data they’re analyzing instead of just extracting the data.


Valuable Features:

Tableau’s flexibility is its best feature. The types of data it handles, and the various data sources, allows me to quickly analyze and present data in ways that Excel (our old way) never made possible.

Improvements to My Organization:

The old way of preparing reports in the past was to have an analyst extract data from an Oracle database, export the results into an Excel spreadsheet, and then format that spreadsheet for client consumption. This process was very time consuming and the final product rarely consistent, especially visually. Tableau has made it possible to skip all those steps, allowing the analyst to touch the database directly, do the analysis, and create an interactive - and much more informative - report with a standard look and feel. This allows the analyst to “connect” more with the data they’re analyzing and not act as data pullers only.

Room for Improvement:

There are a couple of areas where I’d like to see improvement. One: in creating visual templates so that the vizzes can be standardized with our fonts/layouts/colours. As more analysts are starting to work with Tableau, it is becoming harder to maintain some of the visual standards. Being able to have more control over the layout of sheets on a dashboard would also be helpful. Two: we use a lot of statistical formulae in our work to determine standard deviations, percentiles, etc. Currently I’m working on a project where those SDs had to be pre-calculated in order to create a funnel plot correctly. I’m not exactly sure how we could have done this in Tableau directly without being able to create custom functions.

One tiny thing ... being able to have no colour for a mark would help hide marks you can’t exclude in other ways. Yes, sometimes we have to trick Tableau to do what we need to do ;)

Oh, and one more thing ... we’d love to see more Canada-specific map details built in ... things like health authorities, postal code areas, etc. Creating custom background maps is not easy.

Use of Solution:

We started working with Tableau (a limited number of licenses) in the beginning of 2015. I’ve been working with it since October 2015. Today, more and more licenses are being added throughout the ministry as Tableau’s benefits and uses become evident.

Deployment Issues:

At this point, we have not had many issues of this sort. We don’t have a server yet. The only thing I can think of is there not being a warning when multiple people open the same workbook to work on – causing work to be lost in the process.

Technical Support:

Technical support is very good ... that said, I’ve been lucky to not need it much. ;)

Previous Solutions:

We have SAS (Enterprise Guide) as our main data extraction tool. Some areas of the ministry also use MicroStrategy. After reviewing all three BI tools, it became evident that Tableau offered the best solution for the kind of work we do.

I work in the Performance Measurement and Evaluation Branch and our main task is to monitor and report on the health system’s performance. We get data in a variety of formats from a variety of sources, and at various times throughout the year. In order to analyse and report these types of data, Tableau proved to be the most nimble and flexible of the three.

Initial Setup:

The setup was very easy – our IT department had no problems installing the software. They did have more trouble getting the Tableau Reader packaged for our enterprise-wide SelfServe store.

Implementation Team:

I believe it was through an in-house one.

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

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