Whether it is a new or an existing Tableau deployment, large organizations with dedicated business intelligence teams or smaller ones with one of a few developers – we all face similar opportunities and challenges that impact adoption and ultimately the impact that can be achieved. Here are three strategies that can help you own your Tableau deployment for your organization, instead of it owning you.
Standardize for your organization, today
If Tableau is new to your organization or there has not been a centralized approach to adoption, it is possible that there is no standard for dashboard look and feel or thoughtful organization of published products. The sooner organizational best practices can be established for both workbooks and data sources, the better.
Consistent formatting not only feels more polished, but it improves the user experience and enables more efficient analysis. Using templated layouts for new builds, when possible, provides a sense of familiarity for your team members (or users) even if it is the first time they have accessed the view. Creating a standard set of included filters across the organization permits valid comparisons and synthesis across workbooks and subjects. It will lead to more robust and productive discussions for the entire organization.
Thoughtful organization of published products by department or subject areas promote self-service and will help people (or users) find what they need, dig in, and keep them coming back for more. Conversely, a poorly organized environment will reduce efficiency and can lead to redundant and unproductive work. Curated, certified data sources could be considered a gold standard in this case and will reduce frustration for developers and less directly, your target audience.
Train and overexplain, through live sessions and in writing
Creating a new dashboard? Publishing a new view? Host a virtual training and walk the target audience through key features of your dashboard. It is best to do this when users have access and can trigger actions and manipulate the filters or parameters themselves. Periodically, you can offer the same virtual courtesy to new viewers as the access expands, which can also serve as a proactive refresher for the existing user base.
Users likely will not understand the function, data model, or calculations in the dashboard as well as the developer. Explaining and notating the details while providing real-life examples will prompt insightful questions and fast-track learning and understanding. A dedicated glossary or an ever-expanding “Frequently Asked Questions” section is incredibly helpful for both new and returning users.
With greater confidence, users are more likely to take advantage of new views and ultimately drive increased adoption throughout the organization. Best of all, demonstrating dashboard actions, dynamic dimensions, or sheet swapping in a viz will convey all that is possible with your build and reduce the volume of ancillary requests you may receive otherwise.
Learn to say no, unless there is a valid reason to say yes
When you own your deployment it is tempting to react to satisfy each user request, which can lead to overbuilding existing views or creating new ones entirely. A few questions to answer when dealing with enhancements:
- Does the request support the existing views’ objective(s)
– Fulfilling one user’s request can distract from the intended purpose for others, crowd your design, or render the workbook less efficient
- Does the ask really warrant a published view?
– You can quickly analyze data and export PDFs or presentations directly from Tableau Desktop to keep the requests at bay
- Who is asking?
– No project has unlimited bandwidth. If you can, avoid sacrificing long-term priorities and dashboard objectives to meet the needs of individuals
When you are responsible for multiple views pushing quick fixes, one-off enhancements are not sustainable. Instead, aim to gather feedback from the broader group more formally, look for patterns, and periodically publish impactful changes to improve your dashboards.
Regardless of the size or complexity of your organization, published dashboards and data sources that solve for clear goals and user needs are the best practice. With careful planning and thoughtful execution, you can take charge and ensure Tableau Deployment is a valued asset within your organization. Establish the team (or just yourself) and provide guidance and resources to ensure everyone is using the platform and tools effectively. Implement these strategies where you can and own your deployment. Start today!