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In a world where data drives business decisions, great data visualization is crucial. Businesses today demand reporting dashboards that can assist with decision making and strategic planning.

Generating sleek and informative reports is not an easy task. They require careful balance between displaying a collection of information that provides real insight with having a simple, user-friendly dashboard design. To achieve this balance for my clients, I use parameters in Tableau. Dynamic visuals, strong aesthetics, and easy maintenance are just a few benefits of Tableau’s parameterized visuals.

Dynamic Visuals

Using parameters in Tableau dashboards allows end users to select a measure and level of granularity for a single visual using multiple data sets. For example, if a client requests both sales and profit values in a dashboard, there are several methods of accomplishing this.

One solution would be to create two visuals; one showing sales while the other shows profit. However, with parameters, you can have a single visual that includes both data sets with an option to choose whether to view sales or profits. We can take it a step further and provide the end user with the option to view the data for different time periods (weekly, monthly, yearly etc.).

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Aesthetics

In some cases, it can become overwhelming when a dashboard contains multiple visuals of the same type. Therefore, consolidating visuals into a dynamic visual greatly increases the aesthetics of the dashboard by providing white space and additional capacity for visuals of different types. With that, Tableau does a great job of presenting parameter values to the end user and provides several options that will fit the dashboard layout such as single value list, or a compact list, among others.

It is crucial to understand how data is visualized on the dashboard. Stakeholders will appreciate the strong, user-friendly design they can easily manipulate and modify reports from which they can gain valuable insights.

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Easy Maintenance

As business requirements change, so does the reporting dashboard. Dashboards that are dynamic, agile and can change at the pace of business are easier to maintain and update. Parameterized visuals assist with this. If an additional metric needs to be displayed in the same visual style, simply add data to the parameter values. Easily-maintained dashboards decrease my development time and may drive down time I bill to the client, since the hours required for dashboard revisions is lower compared to a less-dynamic setup.

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If you need more help, Tableau offers video tutorials explaining parameters and other Tableau concepts.

Are you using parameters in Tableau? Where have you seen the most value in doing so?

campeau power bi blog

SSAS Tabular and Power BI are two cornerstones of Microsoft’s new generation of BI tools, and play quite well together out of the box. For these tips, I’ll assume you have a properly connected gateway up and running linked to a tabular model in Power BI, and that the model has been properly designed so none of this will look unfamiliar to anyone who has previously worked with a pivot table.

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Cumulative-T

This blog was originally posted to the Piraeus Consulting blog on September 2nd, 2015 and may contain out-of-date information.

Depending on the insights desired, presenting data models as cumulative, rolling totals – as opposed to showing a Grand Total broken out over periods of time – can be an invaluable tool in analyzing key business decisions, spotting the difference between real trends and clear outliers, and crafting longer-term strategies.

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This blog was originally posted to the Piraeus Consulting blog on November 24th, 2015 and may contain out-of-date information.

BI in Layers

This is an exciting and difficult time in Business Intelligence. The tools available are advancing at a breathtaking rate while best practices are changing equally as fast. While the tools promise to take in data and output insights, what that process requires can be somewhat vague at times. Usually, the programs are designed to tackle one of these four layers:

  1. Raw Data
  2. Data Transformation
  3. Data Model
  4. Visualizations

Oftentimes when businesses struggle to produce results from their BI strategy it is because they try to use one tool to accomplish everything, when the tool is really designed to tackle only one of the four layers.

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PowerBIDesigner

 

This blog was originally posted to the Piraeus Consulting blog on February 22nd, 2016 and may contain out-of-date information.

For those who have followed my previous posts on the new Power BI application from Microsoft, you’ve probably already created some fantastic-looking visuals to tell the story of your data. If the art of tapping into a variety of sources, editing your dataset on the fly, and customizing your charts and graphs is old news, then let’s look at how you can manage your Power BI content in a whole new way. By this, I mean sharing your impressive visualizations through a new group workspace. Using this workspace, you can add granular membership and control permissions at the user level. While we’re at it, we will also look at how to migrate existing reports to this space and how to update and manage them through content packs.

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This blog was originally posted to the Piraeus Consulting blog on March 14th, 2016 and may contain out-of-date information.

Tableau Vizable Piraeus Consulting

At their October user conference, Tableau unveiled their new visualization app: Vizable. Vizable is built for the iPad and promises to empower non-professionals to represent spreadsheets visually and to manipulate data in easy-to-use charts and graphs. Dave Story, Tableau’s Vice President of Mobile and Strategic Growth, positioned this app as a handy tool for the masses, saying, “It’s for anybody who has a tablet, data and questions.”

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