By: Eric Parker
Eric lives in Seattle and has been teaching Tableau and Alteryx for 5 years. He's helped thousands of students solve their most pressing problems. If you have a question, feel free to reach out to him directly via email.
This is a continuation of a blog post from last month. Check out that post for context if you haven’t read it already.
6. Receive Feedback and Iterate
After you’ve built an initial dashboard, it’s time to get feedback from users and iterate. If your dashboards are going to be used by a wide audience, pick a few of the users you trust to give you feedback. Pick the people who will be frank and honest with you. This isn’t the time to get pats on the back. This is a chance to get constructive criticism so your product is as polished as it can possibly be.
It’s likely that you’ll go through multiple cycles of feedback and iteration. That’s natural. Repeat this step as many times as necessary for you and your end users to feel comfortable with where the dashboard is at.
Imagine that you’ve just put weeks of work into a project and release it only to find out the data is inaccurate. This is more common than you would think. Releasing dashboards with inaccurate data is particularly damaging when Tableau is new. It can turn skeptics into antagonists (wrongly believing that Tableau, not the data is to blame for the inaccuracies).
Even though it’s easy to gloss over this step (guilty), do your best not to. If you have a previous reporting system, access to the raw data, a domain expert you can ask to look it over or can generate reports from an application, it’s worth investing the time.
Once you’ve tested that the data is correct, it’s time to publish your work. Since you are likely getting the word out to a wider audience, this is a good time to provide an accessible channel for others to contact you. Someone may spot an inconsistency you missed or have a great idea for version 2.
Most people stop after step 8. They publish their work and don’t look back. I understand this temptation, but if that’s all you do, it’s unrealistic to expect you work will get widely adopted.
Most people are resistant to change. Maybe what you built is supposed to replace an existing process in Excel that takes 30 minutes per week. Even if what you built offers 30x time savings, if someone can’t figure it out within a couple minutes, they’re unlikely to use it.
I’ve found 4 different training methods to be effective. Which is best for you depends largely on your audience.
i. In person training.
If you have the time and a small enough user group, nothing tops in person training. Being in person gives your work more credibility and provides a forum for discussion and immediate feedback.
ii. Virtual training.
Virtual training is a great fit if you have a user group that is too large or dispersed to handle individually. This still gives people the opportunity to converse directly with you and provide real time feedback. Additionally, you can record your training and make the video available to re-watch later.
iii. Training videos.
Training videos are one of my favorite inclusions to any dashboarding effort. What’s more convenient for a user than a 60-second training video they can access at any time? One of my favorite tools for video recording is Screencastify. The free version of the software allows you to capture up to 10-minute videos and save the content directly to your Google Drive.
iv. Training images.
If creating a training video isn’t feasible, a training image is a great alternative. Simply annotate an existing image to provide instructions for end users. You can use a tool like PowerPoint to create a professional looking image.
The last step to any dashboarding project is to manage your work. There are three primary reasons to manage what you’ve built.
i. Business needs change.
What your users needed 6 months ago has likely morphed by now. Staying up to date with needs will ensure your work continues to get used. You can even check Tableau Server Administrative Dashboards to learn how frequently your dashboard is accessed and see if viewership changes over time.
ii. Tableau changes.
Tableau changes rapidly. Every several months a new version is released. You might realize that a new feature will help you solve a previous need perfectly.
iii. Your skills and knowledge will grow.
Your knowledge of Tableau and your businesses needs will continue to grow over time. You may learn something you want to incorporate down the road.
Having a regular “check in” with your dashboards (once a month) is a good way to make sure they continue to be valuable.
Thanks so much for joining for this mini-series on the blog. If you enjoyed the read and want to continue taking your dashboarding skills to the next level, check the recording of our Tableau Dashboarding: From Mystery to Mastery Workshop.