Increasing Tableau Server User Adoption: How to Boost Use


Increasing Tableau Server User Adoption: How to Boost Use

In this series, our team unpacks how to boost user adoption of Tableau Server through strategic planning, enablement and quality control.

Users tend to have trouble in two key areas:

  • Tableau Server/Online navigation
  • Using the actual workbooks to get results

Finding the Answers

Navigating Tableau Server/Online may appear daunting at first. It’s different than what you had before. Most of the time, users do not truly recall how to use different tools. They do not know the ins and outs. They memorise a series of clicks that get them results but are not aware of the full structure of a tool. When using a new tool, it feels like they must learn the entire infrastructure just to do the three or four clicks they used to.

If this happens, I would highly recommend looking at a “Tableau Viewer” training, which is directed at enabling users to consume data. It is important to teach users how to navigate the tool, how to interact with it and how to customise their environment. If you have experienced users with time on their hands who are great communicators, you can manage the training internally. Alternatively, InterWorks offers Server/Online for Viewers (2-hour) and Server/Online for Explorers (4-hour) workshops, which are very popular with our clients.

Growing Mindsets and Expanding the Horizon

Even if users are experts at navigating Tableau Server/Online, they may not know entirely what they can answer with the new workbooks and new datasets. A great way to improve adoption is to stretch the boundaries of what users think is possible. This is especially important as Tableau is often able to do so much more than the tool it is replacing.

In the past, I’ve built a workbook with a bunch of “teaser” statements—simple statements like, I want to know how many X were in Y in the last Z months. Essentially simple Mad-Libs. The user would see what questions others asked and could click on a link to take them to a dashboard or suite of dashboards that helped them answer this question.

Upskilling and Overcoming Obstacles

Even when users know about Tableau Server/Online and what it’s used for, they may not know how to use it. They may have transitioned from one tool where they had clear competence, but now they don’t have the previous experience to lean on. Tableau Server/Online may be entirely different from their previous tool. This is especially true when moving from Excel or Crystal reports.

There are many reasons why users may struggle to adopt new technologies. These may be internal or external factors:

Internal Factors

  • TIME! That’s a big concern I hear: “I don’t have the time to learn another tool.” Little do people know how much time they’ll actually get back by using Tableau Server/Online efficiently with custom views, favourites, alerts, subscriptions, etc.
  • Fear of their value, or even their job, being replaced
  • Challenges – difficulty in learning something new, difficulty in adopting a new reporting strategy from PDFs to interactive reports
  • Resistance to change – the method of getting old results now seems harder because it is different

External Factors

  • Training – many organisations offer inadequate or even no training
  • Transitions – users are often not given a suitable transition period from the old method to the new method

Building a Community and Ownership Around Tableau

In our experience, the best way to manage all of these factors is to create and support a community around Tableau. This enables you to support your users, increase collaboration and involve everyone, so they are part of the new solution rather than feel that the new method is being pushed onto them. Here are some solutions:

Training – take the time to hold a 2-4 hour workshop to see the upsides of Tableau and empower users to get the most out of Tableau Server/Online. Here is some of what we at InterWorks cover in our workshops:

  • Automation – New data each month = new reports, or even better—data refresh on schedule = new reports as often as you need
  • Auditability – A clear view of your data helps spot those data errors that can happen all too easily. Gain the ability to set up an email to alert you if data goes outside of a particular range.
  • Collaboration – No one person needs to own a dashboard, shared data sources, version control, etc.
  • Distribution – It can be as simple as sending a link or subscribing to views, so they land in your inbox. All the views you need can be stored together or searchable with tags.
  • Evolution – Upgrade dashboards with tools and features as they grow and as your audience gets more sophisticated.

Tableau User Groups – Find a local or industry-specific Tableau User Group (TUG) and encourage your users to attend. Start by looking here.

Internal User Groups – These are similar to TUGs but are just for your organisation. InterWorks has helped many organisations set up and run initiatives, such as a Lunch-and-Learn or Data-and-Donuts, where users come together to workshop and have fun with Tableau.

Conferences and Events – Short-term events give people the ability to gather, discuss and shape the future of the data community at large.

Office Hours and Assist – It can be a huge support and comfort to have an expert on hand to help with your problems.

Centre of Excellence – This is a project involving the solutions above, as well as others, where users are effectively supported, collaboration is fostered, and best practices are effectively spread throughout the organisation.

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More About the Author

Carl Slifer

Analytics Consultant
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