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Tableau and Capacity Planning – “What if” Analysis

Troy Hogan of the Enterprise Data and Analytics (EDA) team was kind enough to share one of the ways he and his team are getting value from Tableau doing “What If” analysis on how they spend their time.

The EDA Capacity Planning team gained great efficiencies in our quarterly work planning process by using Tableau reporting.

The team enters our team member’s resource estimates into an Excel pivot table. We used conditional formatting on the pivot table to highlight any resources that reached (or are near) capacity for a month.

This worked well, but using Tableau has allowed us to ask “what if” questions in quarterly planning to confirm our work commitments. By importing the data from the Excel pivot table into Tableau, we can now explore how committing to different “work areas” impacts our quarterly capacity.

To help show this, below is a Tableau dashboard that represents our “keep the lights on” work areas for the quarter. One can see that many of our team’s resources have extra capacity for this quarter (note that full capacity is 160 hours/month).

Keep the lights on dashboard

The next dashboard below, shows our work commitments for the quarter added to our “keep the lights on” commitments.

Keep the lights on plus additional work commitments

The team was able to select various “work areas” to talk through and see impacts of committing to different areas for the quarter.

From a meeting perspective, I had an hour meeting scheduled to confirm the quarterly commitments, with the expectation that we would have to schedule an additional meeting. I’m not sure if it was entirely because of the Tableau reporting, but we finished this meeting within 30 minutes!

Automation Will Set You Free, Sort Of

If you have a repetitive task then automation is your friend. The catch is that when anything changes your automation likely breaks. Still if you are running a report that requires a lot of check box selecting you might enjoy this tip sent in by Stephen Rondeau.

Stephen is using iMacros to automate running the Class List By Curriculum Course Section report.

Class List By Curriculum Course Section

I use the class list to get a list of all people enrolled in our programs, since I don’t know of any other way to get it. I run it multiple times just before and during the first two weeks of each quarter.

I use an iMacros script to select the right values from the dropdown lists‎ and generate a report in CSV format. That report is saved in a folder that is being watched for changes; when the report is saved, a script is run to extract and reformat the information into a form I can use to create user accounts, get class lists per course, etc.

– Stephen Rondeau, UW Tacoma Institute of Technology

Stephen’s automation is probably more than most people can handle but recording and replaying a macro is easily within reach.

iMacros

iMacros is a Firefox addon that lets you record and replay repetitious work. The next time you find yourself running the same report over and over consider recording a macro.

Why Are The Reports All Jumbled?

Lisa Nordlund wrote in because she was frustrated with the way the reports were being laid out in the Report Manager. She was used to the report manager rendering a nice neat grid and could quickly find her reports by location.

Here is what is going on and a better method of finding your favorite reports.

We recently upgraded to the latest version of SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), a Microsoft tool, and unfortunately the Report Manager doesn’t work as well with other browsers as it does with Internet Explorer.

So if that sloppy grid is intolerable there are two fixes.
1. Use Internet Explorer.
2. Use BI Portal.

Why is the BI Portal unaffected by Microsoft’s changes? Because the BI Portal is a custom web user interface that sits on top of Microsoft’s SSRS. It is a compatibility layer that lets us build in useful features that Microsoft left out like Favorites and Most recent reports.

Favorites and Most Recent Reports

Favorite and most recent reports

Did you know that if you use the BI Portal you can favorite reports and they will be listed on this page? Also you can find your most recently run reports on this page. The only caveat is that reports run today will show up on the list tomorrow.

Summary

Hopefully this little tip will help you more quickly access the reports you need. Please let us know at help@uw.edu if this was helpful or if you are already using the BI Portal and what features you like.