Oldcastle increases sales & product data visibility with Tableau

Oldcastle is a leading manufacturer of building products in North America. Before Tableau, sharing data across the company was difficult. Without a single source of truth, it was easy for data to be misinterpreted. In this video, CFO, Ian Crabtree and Business Analyst, Paul Lisborg share how Oldcastle publishes curated data sources to Tableau Server to keep everyone on the same page, including executives and sales representatives.

Oldcastle is a leading manufacturer of building products and materials in North America. The company supplies aggregates, asphalt, concrete, construction and paving services, as well as roofing and interior products.

Before Tableau, teams at Oldcastle had a hard time sharing their data across the organization. Without this collaboration, the company didn’t have a single source of truth that they could use to make decisions.

Today, teams publish curated data sources on Tableau Server where individuals use web authoring to ask specific questions and build their own views. In video 2, Business Analyst, Paul Lisborg and Chief Financial Officer, Ian Crabtree discuss the mold-tracking visualization—a popular visualization on Oldcastle’s server—allowing 200 production people to get instant visibility into manufacturing processes.

In video 1, Paul and Ian share how they use Tableau’s Salesforce data connector to get quick insight into product sales and margin trends. Sales representatives use Tableau dashboards to drill down into their performance data and analyze customer buying behavior.

Tableau: How has Tableau helped your business grow?
Ian Crabtree, Chief Financial Officer: What I tend to ask, and if I use two words to kind of be synonymous with Tableau, it's “what are the drivers, what are the trends, and also the outliers?”

So what I'm able to do very quickly is go across multiple data sources, see the trends of product sales, product margin, by customer, by ZIP code, by salesman, and very quickly gain insight from that data, send out some e-mails, have some communication. So be a lot more proactive in the management of our business.

Not only to arrest the decline, but also to understand an increase in sales. And basically find out what they're doing and see if we can sponsor that across the nation.

Tableau: What tool do you use to track sales data?
Paul Lisborg, Business Analyst: Salesforce is the application that our sales teams use to track their leads, their opportunities. Our web hits come into that. So it is the repository of all things sales.

Tableau: Do you find it easy to connect Tableau to your Salesforce data?
Paul: It’s a very easy data set to connect to within Tableau. And now we're able to push out these dashboards to not only the sales managers, but to each individual rep. Well, how powerful it is now that before they were looking at 78,000 SKUs. It's impossible to know what we're selling at a loss, what we're selling at good margin versus a lower margin.

Tableau: How has Tableau improved the sales process?
Paul: Now a sales rep can come into a dashboard, look to what he sold yesterday, look to how he's doing this month, look how he's doing year to date, and then he's able to drill down into…what customers are doing well? What are those customers buying? What are my margins on those items?

The salesman doesn't really care where he's getting his data, he just wants to pull up a common application, in this case Salesforce, and then drill in. And he's got Tableau—Tableau dashboards—he might not even be aware he's looking at a Tableau dashboard. But the information that he's receiving from that is much more powerful than having rows and columns of information.

Tableau is a wonderful tool as far as speed and how quickly you can gain insight. Not only are we making a better decision, but we're also getting to that decision far quicker than we did five years ago.

Tableau: How would you describe your experience with Tableau?
Paul: I honestly believe Tableau is the very best product and sometimes I'll hear the phrase, "well, it's not for everything." I have yet to find something that Tableau won't conquer.

Ian: Tableau is a wonderful tool as far as speed and how quickly you can gain insight. And I just know from my experience that not only are we making a better decision, but we're also getting to that decision far quicker than we did five years ago.

Tableau: Is there a particular area of the company that has improved since Tableau?
Paul: We get people calling all the time about how this has changed. And one of the visualizations that was probably the easiest to make was in essence, stamp and mold and form our products.

We now have a mold-tracking visualization that we use all around the country, because we have 11 divisions, they share their molds. And so a sister company shares a mold with someone else, and they don't know exactly where their molds are at any one time.

Well, this gives them instant visibility as to where the molds are. And it gives them visibility as to if they need to create something or manufacture something and they don't have the mold, they can just queue it up and they can look at the molds that everybody has and ask to borrow those.

And it went from zero to 60 overnight because we about 200 production people now that are looking at that all the time.

Tableau: With all of those people viewing and creating visualizations, how do you make sure that everyone is working off of the same data source?
Paul: We use self-serve in Tableau web authoring. And what we've found is no matter what visualization you put out to 206 distinct manufacturing facilities, someone's always going to want to see the data in their own way.

Ian: So by using the web authoring, we can give them a data set with predefined measures and dimensions, and they can build their own intelligence through the web authoring tool. And it's one single source of truth.

So whether a gentleman builds it in San Diego or a lady builds the same information in Chicago, they'll be getting the same answer, but at the same time, they can manipulate the data to their specific needs.

Paul: So what we've done is we've created these templates within web authoring so that users—business users, not analysts, not technical users—can actually go into web authoring and start dragging and dropping and getting answers for themselves.

And very quickly, the integrity and the faith within the tool increased exponentially. So from embracing a single source of truth, the user immediately had the faith in the product and wanted to be engaged with it and take it forward. In addition to that, quite frankly, it's a lot faster, it's a lot easier. There's no daily downloads, no V lookups, no pivot tables. It's all right there for you. It's refreshed every night.

You might also be interested in...