Tableau: Can you describe what Tantus does? What services do you provide to Federal agencies?
Nayeem Ahmed, Director of Technical Solutions: We focus mostly on the public sector, working a lot with government clients. As an example, we work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). We are sort of the IT organization within the FAA. We do some work at HHS, the Health and Human Services. We're also in other agencies.
Tableau: And you, specifically? What services are you providing?
Nayeem: I'm a problem solver. So my job is really to go talk to customers and understand what is it in their business process they're having trouble with or where the challenges are or the pain points.
Tableau: And what were the challenges at the FAA?
Nayeem: What FAA was doing was tracking really millions of dollars in reimbursable projects using traditional means by querying the financial system. But what they lacked was the ability to provide a lot of the information into one solution to get the big picture.
We developed a dashboard in Tableau that really provided the means to see the overall health of the program and know where to focus.
Tableau: Can you describe process of developing dashboards for the FAA? Both before Tableau and now?
Nayeem: It would take us, perhaps, weeks to develop a report to get out to the customers. It was more of, you know, ‘Let me get back to you when I have a product I can show you.’
Whereas with Tableau, we were able to adopt a different model, do more of an agile development, more collaboration with the customers and they would sit with us and they would look at the dashboards and be able to provide feedback.
We were able to just respond a lot quicker to that. And then, at the end, you get a product that's a little bit more suited for what they were looking for.
Tableau: When I hear “Federal government contractor” I immediately think “security.” How did you handle that in Tableau?
Nayeem: Security is a big deal for any government agencies. And there is also a mandate to move away from having separate IDs for different systems and really consolidate that under one ID.
With security, the way we have implemented the solution with Tableau for our customers is that you have this one ID that you can use to get into the system, and then we've been able to manage security behind the scenes.
And it's all tied to the level of access they have— the type of privilege they have —and it ensures that the proper authorization is in place from the system owners.
Tableau: What is different about Tableau, compared with other data insight solutions?
Nayeem: I think it's just more intuitive and fun just to figure it out, to get what you want. But really just the ease of development was probably the biggest one for me.
Traditionally, you know, organizations tend to bucket users based on the type of information they need. So you could have an executive that's looking at something different from, say, the managers or even the analysts.
I think Tableau bridges the gap a little bit where you could really just use the tool and—if you build the dashboards where you have an executive summary —you provide the ability to drill down with additional tabs. So it can really just be used across the board.
Tableau: How are your clients responding to the work you’re delivering in Tableau?
Nayeem: With Tableau, specifically, what we've seen at the FAA is—you don't really need to market it. It's one of those things where, you know, people are hungry to get answers to questions they have.
We've seen a very positive reaction and they are anxious to see this new platform as a service that provides them the ability to be more in control of their analytic products. So I think we're getting really good reaction.
I think that's the exciting part, being able to just know that at the end of the day, you might have provided a tool that could make a material difference in their jobs.
Tableau: That’s fantastic. Any thoughts you’d like to share with people considering Tableau?
Nayeem: Be prepared, really, for data discovery when you use Tableau. I think it is amazing how as you get answers to questions that you were not getting before, it will completely change your perspective.
I've been doing business intelligence for a lot of years. And it truly is a tool that allows the analyst or the super user the ability to have more control at their fingertips as long as the data sets are in good shape. And to be able to answer the question of the day, which traditionally took a lot longer before.