How to Quickly Impress Your Boss with Tableau

17 Jun 2019

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In this competitive era of Big Data, have you ever thought of a way to stand out amongst your peers by showing your boss or senior management that you can leverage data visualisation to help them make quick decisions? Here is the trick: While many of your colleagues are still using Excel or database management tools such as Oracle or SQL Server, you learn Tableau, which enables you to give faster responses to support management decisions.


One day your boss asks the team something like:

“Team, how much of our sales comes from new customers?”

Suppose you are able to access the sales order files (both the sales header file and the sales detail file). Both of the files are in typical sales table schema. As usual, it would rack the brains of the team members, with many of them dodging away from giving response.


Although it is still possible to work it out in Excel/SQL Server, it is not easy at all. The traditional working steps would be something like:

  1. Join the sales header and sales breakdown files with Order ID
  2. Find out the first order of each customer and get its year
  3. VLOOKUP the First Order Year of each customer for each transaction
  4. Do a bar chart / pie chart

The steps are quite tedious and error prone. Even if you can do it in SQL Server by writing the SQL statements, you need to export the result set to Excel for making the chart for a better presentation.

On the contrary, it can be done in just 1 minute (in an ingenious way).


You can be proactive and take the bull by the horns. You then open up your notebook computer and Tableau with confidence.

Step 1: Import and Join the two tables

tables in tableau

Step 2: Define a Calculated Field called Customer First Order Year as follows

tableau course

Step 3: Convert the new Measure to Dimension

tableau course hong kong

Step 4: Make the bar chart by dragging the dimensions and measures as follows:

Order Date -> Columns Sales -> Rows Customer First Order Year -> Color Sales -> Label

learn tableau

Optionally, give the chart a descriptive title as shown.

Incredible! All of this is done in just ONE minute. Your boss would certainly be impressed by your efficiency as you have enabled him to visualize a business problem at a glance.

He could easily spot out that less than 2% of the sales in 2018 were obtained from new customers (represented by the light blue horizontal bar in 2018. Virtually there was no new blood!

Having given a useful chart with daunting efficiency, you have shown high productivity and are well deserved to receive your boss’s praise “Well done!” with a big thumb. That would differentiate you from your peers. Tableau made you a difference. Promotion? Maybe...


Different levels of executives would prefer to view the information in different manners. A CEO, for example, likes charts that possess the following features:

  • Supporting top-down drill-through features
  • Highlight on exceptions, either good or bad
  • Actual vs Target on KPIs

As a middle-level manager, they would like outputs in the form of charts and tabular reports exportable to Excel, easily shareable with team members to follow up issues.

As a supervisor, they like to get charts or reports with exception highlights, identifying outliers, and easily get down to the customer or transactional levels.

All of the above functions are natively offered by Tableau, one of the market leaders in Business Intelligence software.

This is only one example that shows some power of Tableau. The next Tableau amazing example will further impress you more. Watch out for my next blog.

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17 Jun 2019

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