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Tableau Review
The ease of blending data from multiple sources has allowed us to bring a different level of questions to the meeting table.


Valuable Features:

The data blending capabilities is a huge factor for our team. The ease of blending data from multiple sources has allowed us to generate new insight and bring a different level of questions to the meeting table.  The type of dashboards we have been able to create have made it easier for individuals who are not use to looking at data to navigate and drill into their own material to find answers or ask questions they never thought to ask in the first place.

Improvements to My Organization:

We’ve been able to replace several manual spreadsheet reports that took hours for individuals to complete. With Tableau Server and some automation processes put in place, those reports are now automatically delivered to the end users, saving time and money.  We can also develop reports much faster than in the past plus provide an interface to a database which in the past might not of been used as much due to the lack of technical skills to write the queries.

Room for Improvement:

Formatting controls could use some improvement. We’ve found that to be the most confusing part of developing reports, at least until you get use to where all the controls are at and how to use them. Ideally, making a user-friendly interface for formatting the worksheets and dashboards would be a big improvement and time saver.  Recent version upgrades have added some new features such as being able to change the format for your entire workbook all at once.  Still a work in progress though.

Use of Solution:

I have used it for eight years and sever administrator for 2 years.

Deployment Issues:

Deployment and stability have been flawless so far. We’ve not encountered a data set that has slowed the software down and we use records with millions of rows. There is no clear-cut line of determining when best to consider switching over to an enterprise-wide model vs. per license, so there could be a better way of informing their customers on when to flip that switch.

Stability Issues:

We have never experienced an issue with the server software or any technical problems with the desktop or interactor licenses.

Scalability Issues:

Once others in the company start seeing what it can do they immediately ask what needs to happen so they can get a license.  We started down the path of looking at core enterprise licensing but were told the company is moving away from that model and sticking with a per user/license structure.  Depending on how many in the company want to start using the software plus needing the additional interactor license to access the server the purchases can add up quickly.

Customer Service:

Very little need to contact their customer service but when I did they were professional and quick to respond.

Technical Support:

Both customer service and technical support have been excellent. Sales reps have been very nice to work with and you don’t end up with that used car salesmen feel. In fact, we typically meet with our reps about 3-4 times a year and have been extremely supportive.

Previous Solutions:

No - most of our reporting was done between MS Excel and MS Access.

Initial Setup:

Setup was extremely easy. Essentially a plug-and-play right out of the box.

Implementation Team:

We implemented it in-house. Implementation was easy in comparison to other systems we’ve worked on in the past. QA testing was seamless and found no integration issues.

ROI:

We’ve found quite a bit of savings using Tableau, based on the time it takes to develop ad-hoc reports, changes in process due to new insights and report automation.

Cost and Licensing Advice:

Best advice on pricing is to anticipate the desire for more licenses once the results of this product are acknowledged in other parts of your company. Note that for others to interface with a published report on your server, they need what’s called an interactor license. We acquired several guest interactor licenses in order to lend out to departments so they can see the benefit of accessing their reports on the server vs. static reports. This encourages them to purchase their own interactor licenses or at least plan to purchase when preparing their budgets for the following year.

Other Solutions Considered:

We evaluated several potential software systems such as Visier, Lumira, and Qlik, but found Tableau the easiest to use for individuals who did not need to have a programming background. Plus, the freedom to develop from a blank canvas with data that could be from any corner of the company appealed more to our team than working with a set of canned metrics to one specific department.

Other Advice:

The annual Tableau customer conference is a huge learning opportunity for new and seasoned users alike. The week-long conference provides a large number of workshops to help increase your skills and many of these sessions are hands-on training. Also a great way to network with other users and see how they are using Tableau.

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

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