When it comes to data visualization, Tableau is the premier platform for creating and sharing your insights. With new features and versions released consistently, there’s always more to learn and master. But there’s more to delivering the best reporting to end users than simply leveraging what’s new: You’ve gotta have a Tableau environment that performs at the optimal level of efficiency—because it doesn’t really matter what kind of bells and whistles your dashboard has if users abandon it prematurely.
Designing Efficient Tableau Dashboards
Recently, Ben Bausili, InterWorks’ Global Experience Practice Lead, and Mat Hughes, U.S. Analytics Practice Lead, updated an 82-page whitepaper on Tableau. Their whitepaper, “Designing Efficient Workbooks,” is the ultimate resource for optimizing every aspect of your Tableau workbooks at every stage, from connecting data sources and designing filter actions to building table calculations and tooltips.
Here’s what the whitepaper authors said about its value to the data community:
Q: What value do you hope this whitepaper provides readers?
Ben: My hope is that the paper not only explains what to do to achieve great performance but also the why behind it. Technology changes all the time, but when you start understanding why recommendations are made, it’s easier to keep up with the changes and reason how new features might help or hurt performance.
Mat: Over the past several years, Tableau dashboards have transformed from basic reporting objects into complex decision-support tools powered by huge volumes of data. Tableau developers in the real world are constantly trying to balance dynamic interactions, data granularity and fast performance that keeps users in the “flow” of analytics. We wanted to write a resource for the people building those analytic products: one that acknowledges the imperfections of real-world data and understands that it’s not always feasible to make all of the “right” performance choices.
Q: What resources informed the creation of this whitepaper? Was this the product of years of collective InterWorks experience?
Ben: The whitepaper was the result of decades of combined consulting experience from InterWorks, interviews with experts at Tableau, and—of course—the deep well of knowledge that is the Tableau community. The paper was built on the foundation of earlier work, like Alan Eldridge, but also insights from former colleagues like Robert Rouse who formulated the original performance flowcharts referenced and updated in the paper.
Mat: First, the original whitepaper served as a fantastic foundation. The work that Alan Eldridge did originally is a valuable resource that I’ve personally relied on in the past, and lots of our consultants do the same. As we started the process of updating the paper, we wanted to combine two valuable perspectives: the lived experience of our analytics consultants and empirical evidence based on testing. We conducted discovery interviews with our team of (x consultants across y countries ) and used those to inform the optimization techniques and scenarios we tested. We then built out several dozen scenarios using hundreds of sheets and dashboards that put different development techniques, datasource scenarios and calculation types head-to-head to measure actual response times across several thousand test actions.
Check out the whitepaper teaser video below and download the full whitepaper to start optimizing performance today!
Completely Optimize Your Tableau Environment
There’s a lot more to Tableau than its Desktop visualizations, of course. With Server a critical piece of the ecosystem and new challenges cropping up in your day-to-day analytics work, InterWorks has even more services to support you every step of the way. Below is a preview of Assist by InterWorks, an offering that gives you on-demand support to data experts anytime, and ServerCare, a 24/7 management and monitoring package for your servers. Read on to learn how they can further boost the effectiveness of your Tableau Desktop processes and make an impact on your data efforts as a whole.
Dustin Wyers, Assist Lead
Q: As someone who helps Tableau users every day with Assist by InterWorks, why is this whitepaper a valuable resource? When should folks seek more in-depth guidance?
Tableau gives people so many options to build workbooks exactly how they want. The challenge is often that even though a dashboard may look good, it may not perform well. That’s why a whitepaper like this is so helpful – it serves as a best practice guide for dashboard builders to avoid common pitfalls and generally keep their dashboards running smoothly.
Of course, there are often scenarios where some expert help can accelerate your progress, as well as scenarios where performance issues extend beyond the dashboards themselves. That’s where a service like Assist by InterWorks comes in as a natural escalation point to this whitepaper. Whether it’s dashboard-related, Tableau Server-related or anything that may touch Tableau, Assist can jump in and provide immediate help.
Amy Cairns, ServerCare Lead
Q: Can you tell me the impact well-designed workbooks have on a Tableau Server instance, as well as the impact a healthy Tableau Server has on performance? How does ServerCare keep Tableau Server healthy?
I like to say that Tableau Server is a lot like a clock—you have two major portions: the functionality of the front-end, or the clock-face, and the cogs behind the scenes making sure it all works fluidly. ServerCare keeps the cogs moving smoothly and freely, so the clock-face can do its job. All that to say, well-designed workbooks and Tableau Server work hand in hand. If your workbooks are poorly designed, your Server won’t be able to handle the load thrown at it. If your Server isn’t well designed, your workbooks don’t stand a chance, no matter how nicely built out they are. ServerCare keeps everything running happily through reactive alerts, proactive analysis (Platform 360s) and post-issue troubleshooting.
Have more questions or know that you want to team up with InterWorks to optimize even more of your analytics processes? Reach out to us, and let’s get started!