How to answer questions with Tableau? /Tableau tutorial


I wrote a blogpost to the blog of my employer in Hungarian, but I’d like to share this with You, because it could be really helpful if

  • You or your company is planning to start using BI Tool but don’t know yet which
  • You’re using Tableau, but you need to convince Your boss to by Tableau for other users within the company to collaborate
  •  You’re dealing with data, analysis or reports day to day and You’d like to do your job on a more effective way (for You there will be detailed tutorials on my channel and posts on my blog later)

So How to use Tableau to answer business questions

Tableau says that their Tool is unique because we can answer questions with it on the speed of the thoughts. To demonstrate that I’ve recorded some video where I ask questions and looking for the answer in Tableau.

To do this I’ll be a manager who is new in her position and I want to have a clear picture about my new Department than share my findings with the management and colleagues.

QUESTION1: How does my Department (Furniture) perform and what is our key Product?

(Click here to view interactive workbook on Tableau Public)

QUESTION2: I’d like to see the generated Profit also in this view.

(Click here to view interactive workbook on Tableau Public)

To get this information I didn’t need to do a research for visual best practices and googling how to create the best view. All I needed: some double-clicks and drag-and-drop actions and Tableau did the rest for me – found the best chart, used colors, let me use hierarchies – absolutely supported my exploration on the speed of thoughts.

QUESTION3: I’d like to see if there are any regional patterns.

(Click here to view interactive workbook on Tableau Public)

As the manager of the international company I really could use a geographical analysis about the whole company and of course my department. It could help to identify regions/cities/states I need to focus on. Again I don’t need to search Longitudes and Latitudes on the web or draw maps or even set geographic types – Tableau automatically does these for me.

QUESTION4: How much profit have we generated in each state? I know that I have some issues in Central region, so I’ll focus on that market only.

(Click here to view interactive workbook on Tableau Public)

QUESTION5: I’d like to understand both our sales and our profitability within each city.

(Click here to view interactive workbook on Tableau Public)

Next step is to get to know the past and the future. You’ll see in the video, that You don’t need to use functions, write code or create hierarchy – Tableau can recognize and understand date fields automatically.

QUESTION6: First I’ll take a look at my sales history, …

(Click here to view interactive workbook on Tableau Public)

Embedded calculations (Quick Table Calculations) help me to get clear picture about the data compared to (for example) previous period. I can see it as percentage or difference or get the running total, etc.  So I will use them:

QUESTION7: …than compare Sales to the previous year…

(Click here to view interactive workbook on Tableau Public)

It’s also easy to create another view with dragging dimensions and measures to another section. With the Duplicate function You can keep your viz than go further without to start everything from the beginning or being lost in calculations. But if it happens there is the Back button (as you could see in the video above). Extremely useful when you’re discovering your data and not sure where to go next or what should you see at the end – it’s not a common function what every BI tools have so I’ve learned to appreciate it 😊

Back to our analysis as new manager I’d like to see trends and forecast – and I can do it easily.

QUESTION8: … and see if it can help me make any predictions about the future.

(Click here to view interactive workbook on Tableau Public)

Now I have the insights of the Sales and Profit but I need to deal with cost also. I have a spreadsheet about the costs so I will use it. However, now I need to use another data source this doesn’t cause any problem (as Tableau is an analytics tool it is basic requirement). My spreadsheet is for the human eye but whit its built-in functions Tableau can convert this to raw data and use. I can do some preparation then join, blend or union my data sources with their common field(s). After that it’s ready to be used in the same view.

QUESTION9: So far in my analysis, I’ve looked at revenue and profit. Now I’d like to look at profit as it relates to costs especially in the region where I have issues.

(Click here to view interactive workbook on Tableau Public)

Now I have the consequences and insights and I’d like to share these to my colleagues and the management. First I need a dashboard to show my findings then a platform to collaborate with others.
With Tableau, I can create an interactive dashboard with filters, hierarchies, parameters. I can use my analyses (maps, charts from joint databases, time series analytics) and make them to interact with each other to show the details and draw the attention to the point.

(Click here to view interactive workbook on Tableau Public)

After I’ve done with my analysis I need to publish it. The best in publishing is not that I can share my insights. It is, that my colleagues can use my workbook for deeper or for exploration from their aspects. Furthermore, because we can build live connection to our databases, we will see the same data at any time and there is no need to discuss, whose data is ‘true’.
To publish a workbook, Tableau offers two options:

  • Tableau Server is an on-premise solution, which can be hosted on local hardware or through a cloud provider of your choice.
  • Tableau Online is a 100% cloud-based platform, hosted and maintained by Tableau.

Both supports our work well, ensure easy collaboration and increases efficiency.

(Click here to view interactive workbook on Tableau Public)

As You can see, to do this analysis above took me approximately 15 min. It’s impossible at companies who don’t have any visual analytics or self-service BI Tool. Even considering how expensive the time of a manager and how important it is to be used effectively – the lack of these tools really seems to be a major deficiency.

I’ve tried to show all basic features and how to use them to make your work more efficient but of course You can try it yourself. There are free trials for all Tableau products – You can download them here.

My support in embedding videos to Tableau workbooks was the blog of Andy Kriebelthis was the post what helped and it’s even better that it’s about StarWars 😃 Take a look at this blog – worth it! 😉


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