You’ve heard about the great visualizations Tableau provides, and you may have even played with a trial. You’re convinced it’s the right business intelligence platform for your organization. But how do you justify the investment to those in charge?

Traditional wisdom says to use a data-centric approach to calculate your return on investment (ROI): weigh the net costs and benefits of your current business intelligence processes against the expected Tableau costs and potential savings or revenue generation. In such an exercise, you would estimate the dollars saved or generated by your Tableau investment in terms of improved:

  • Time to insight (business users spend less time on pulling together data and creating reports)
  • Accuracy (business users make better decisions on accurate information)
  • Customer satisfaction (business users provide the right information at the right time to their customers)
  • Business advantage through new insights not possible before (save money, reduce costs, increase revenue)
  • Employee satisfaction (business users focus on business questions, not on wrangling data and time consuming report creation)

The downside of this ROI exercise is that it can take weeks to collect data to calculate the current cost of manual effort demanded by existing BI processes, estimate the opportunity cost in terms of potential revenue missed by not focusing that effort on customers or other revenue-generating activities, and then compare these costs to guesses about potential savings and revenue with an investment in Tableau.

When a data-centric approach just isn’t feasible, what other ways can you make a case for switching to Tableau?

If those you’re trying to convince aren’t likely to make a decision to invest based solely on anecdotal evidence or confidence in your expertise, then a next-best approach to a true ROI exercise is to build a quick Tableau demo using the trial software and do a side-by-side comparison of the ease and quality of intelligence it provides versus your existing BI solutions. Not only will you have objective data to prove your point, but you’ll have a report or dashboard ready to go before you’ve even purchased a license.

When designing a demo, it’s best to focus on one or two key business questions that your current intelligence and reporting tools cannot answer easily (or at all). Choose wisely, and with your audience in mind. What question does management have you scrambling to answer that takes hours to pull together? Suppose one of your business-critical directives is to ensure inventory levels can meet forecasted sales, and it requires joining data from multiple systems through time-consuming (and error-prone) copy and paste efforts. In your demo, show how you can use Tableau to integrate a sample of this data into a single dashboard to create a single, elegant view. Walk through the current process, and then show how it’s done more easily in Tableau.

Focus your demo on the visual and interactive aspects of Tableau – there is nothing compelling about treating it like Excel.

Tableau really shines when you make the most of color, size, and shape, rather than just organizing data in tables. Tableau also allows users to dynamically change the view by setting parameters using values that aren’t in the data itself. These and other features unique to Tableau are worth building your demo around to demonstrate the value add.

If you need ideas for how to get a demo up and running fast, contact Marquis Data today. Our Accelerator for Tableau provides a proven method to ensure that your two-week Tableau trial is valuable, purposeful, and ultimately effective.

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