Tableau: If you don't use it... I don't want to work for you ...
David Fickes | TrustRadius Reviewer
June 30, 2016

Tableau: If you don't use it... I don't want to work for you ...

Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with Tableau Desktop

Tableau is used as a teaching tool for visualization across several departments. It is also used by these departments and others to create visualizations for budgeting and other external communications for the public, government staff and elected officials. Ultimately, these visualizations have a wide circulation and are key to demonstrating our commitment to a wide variety of social initiatives.
  • Geographic visualizations with demographic substrates.
  • Combining multiple visualizations into a single dashboard presentation.
  • Creating exploratory dashboards.
  • Storytelling.
  • Their ability to send presentations using a snapshot of the data is outstanding.
  • Could use a bit more flexibility in their approach to stories.
  • Relatively expensive on a per seat basis.
  • The viewer requires substantial hardware for good responsiveness.
  • D3.js and SAP BusinessObjects Lumira
Excel is the ultimate jack-of-all-trades Swiss army knife approach. You can do almost anything but it is missing much of the polish of dedicated applications of Tableau. Great for the initial approach to a new dataset. I have created some custom Excel macros that go in and run calculations on combinations of fields -- mostly to see if there are data relationships. This is hard to do almost anywhere else.
D3.js is an incredibly flexible tool if you are willing to deal with the tremendous overhead of the associated programming. It has a huge learning curve and I would never recommend it for the exploratory or initial examination phase. But for incredibly detailed and robust displays, it is terrific. Expect to take a week to get anything done right.
Lumira is a nice get started and get something out the door product. It still feels like a beta-level product. This could be useful for departments that don't have specialized people or want something more than what Excel offers but aren't willing to pay for the full Tableau license. Good for SAP houses of course but I wouldn't count out the other two.
SAP Business Objects, SAP Crystal Reports, SAP BusinessObjects Lumira
I haven't found anything that it doesn't handle. I really like the way materials import and can be manipulated inside the program with a preview of the datasets. It is rarely the case where I have to go in and change the automatic assignment type of data. Blending different sources is a natural extension. My normal approach was to push everything to CSV files just out of habit and I've started skipping this process entirely.
I tend to be a solo operator; I create presentations for others. So, it's hard to judge these capabilities as I don't exercise them much. In general, I've been able to send things out to inexperienced users and they are able to examine and manipulate the result without having to step them through it. For the most part, I receive their commentary and input directly over Skype or in person.
Tableau is a wonderful tool for exploratory data manipulation. It has a learning curve but once you understand its view of the world, many things fall into place. Lot's of flexibility -- you'll never want to go back to Excel alone. The storytelling feature could use a bit more polish in its choice of defaults. You can end up with a great final result but it takes a while to get there.

Tableau Desktop Feature Ratings

Pixel Perfect reports
8
Customizable dashboards
9
Report Formatting Templates
7
Drill-down analysis
10
Formatting capabilities
9
Integration with R or other statistical packages
7
Report sharing and collaboration
7
Publish to Web
7
Publish to PDF
9
Report Versioning
6
Report Delivery Scheduling
5
Pre-built visualization formats (heatmaps, scatter plots etc.)
Not Rated
Location Analytics / Geographic Visualization
Not Rated
Predictive Analytics
Not Rated
Multi-User Support (named login)
Not Rated
Role-Based Security Model
Not Rated
Multiple Access Permission Levels (Create, Read, Delete)
Not Rated
Responsive Design for Web Access
8
Dedicated iOS Application
7
Dedicated Android Application
8
Dashboard / Report / Visualization Interactivity on Mobile
8

Using Tableau Desktop

I have no idea how widespread its usage is. I do know that it is used as a teaching tool inside several departments in the College of Business. In addition, a number of users in administration and other colleges use it for both teaching, research and administrative functions. There is some discussion of an internal user group but nothing has gelled so far.
There is no formal support structure. In general, we rely on a key people who are willing to assist and the forums hosted by the company itself. Decision Science (DS) professionals will not need a lot of support for the product, at least not the way we use it here. I do understand that other implementations do use server implementations that require some technical support roles.
  • More of the same, it might be nice to have a standard repository for certain mandated reports. Right now, we distribute Excel Pivot table spreadsheets which aren't very flexible.
  • Mapping demographic data
  • Comparison visualizations
  • Storytelling
  • Create interactive data exploration dashboards

Evaluating Tableau Desktop and Competitors

  • Product Features
  • Product Usability
  • Product Reputation
It was easy to start mucking around with the product using their full blown demo license. Tableau has an incredibly strong user reputation and the reasons for its wide adoption are very clear after using it for a very short time. Its become indispensible to my work.
I wouldn't hesitate so long to start using it for real work instead of having it on my machine waiting to go through tutorials. Of course, you should plan more time. My first deliverable was a bit rough and it showed but I managed to get through the presentation. Many of the questions actually focused on the product rather than my report itself.

Tableau Desktop Implementation

Again, training is the key and the company provides a lot of example videos that will help users discover use cases that will greatly assist their creation of original visualizations. As with any new software tool, productivity will decline for a period. In the case of Tableau, the decline period is short and the later gains are well worth it.
Not sure - We use this as a standalone product that is then used to address our data needs. The shift was nearly overnight but it required some training which was mostly done on an ad-hoc, individually driven basis. Users were not required to switch and were responsible for their own training and learning curve.
  • Needed to learn a new set of tools.
  • Had to wrestle with IT management to get them to open up some of the databases for use.

Tableau Desktop Support

I still haven't found something that stumped me for long. The company materials are first-rate and their seems to be a natural affinity among the professionals using the product. It seems there are many who want to help those that are following them onto the platform. I've never noticed any condescension to new users or obvious questions in the forums or my personal exchanges.
ProsCons
Quick Resolution
Good followup
Knowledgeable team
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
None
No - Haven't gotten there. As the rest of the review reflects, I'm a fan of their online support systems including members of their user forums. As a new user, I was never given the RTFM treatment even to some basic questions. Other customers jumped in to help me with my specific issues quickly.
I found a particularly great visualization on the public forum. Turns out it was created by a staff member. I wasn't sure how it was put together so I sent a quick note and was blessed with the complete files with an overview of how it was constructed and an offer to tease out the details where needed. Clearly above and beyond.

Using Tableau Desktop

There is a learning curve but they have dozens of videos to step you through projects which are a great start for anyone. They are nice and short but cover a specific area with linkages to the next video in the series. I've often fired up one similar to a new project of mine and simply stepped through it. This is where you get the boss to give you a large second (or even third) monitor to boost your productivity. If she doesn't then start looking for a better place to work!
ProsCons
Like to use
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Consistent
Convenient
Feel confident using
Slow to learn
Lots to learn
  • Initial data exploration.
  • Duplicating visualizations for variation.
  • Creating a narrative storyline.
  • Getting the "look" right on the stories is a bit difficult, I tend to want something really specific and so you end up having to adjust every single element.
Yes - Haven't used it much but from what I can see, it is just a solid implementation like the rest of their software. One of the things I've noticed is that their software just has a solid "feel" of quality engineering which is not always the case these days.