Data Doctor

Implementation Guide


If you’ve seen the power of Tableau Doctor at Tableau Conferences worldwide – you’ll know how powerful it can be. Now we want to make it easy for you to launch a practice of your own. We have taken our years of experience and lessons learned in running Tableau Doctor and packaged them up into a toolkit of resources for you. Below you will find an outline and guide to the program.

Data Doctor is for any organization seeking to foster a peer driven Data Culture by removing roadblocks while using Tableau and expanding the use of Tableau within their organization. Our customers have used Data Doctor to identify individual, departmental, or organizational knowledge gaps within their organization; develop centers of excellence to self-service Tableau and provide “frequently asked question” solutions to their users; and provide peer-to-peer training opportunities.

Design your practice

Business needs

Identifying why you need to launch a Data Doctor practice is an essential first step in clarifying your vision and collecting the data necessary to show success. Examples of business needs include many individuals at your organization having access to Tableau, but not using it or users who are actively using Tableau yet, feel frustrated when they get stuck.

After identifying the business needs, determine the change you want to make (goal) and what success looks like (metric).

Data Doctor experience

Data Doctor allows you to modify the experience to best fit your organization. Some customers choose to offer only pre-scheduled appointments, some only ad-hoc, drop-in sessions, and some a combination of both. Other customers organize their Data Doctor practice around a theme in order to raise organizational competency around visualization best practices, performance optimization, or calculations competency, for example; or provide an open forum for patients to come with any question or issue they have.

Organizational culture: Similar to the experience level of your patients, your organizational culture will influence the type of appointment scheduling your Data Doctor practice offers. If your organizational culture thrives on order and organization, pre-scheduled appointment scheduling may be the most successful choice for you. If your organizational culture is more fluid, then open office hours may work best.

Appointment scheduling: The level of experience your patients have with Tableau should influence your choice to offer scheduled appointments or open office hours. For example, if the majority of your Tableau community is just beginning their journey with Tableau, you may not need to pre-schedule appointments because specialized knowledge is not required of your Doctors. Open office hours may be a better strategy to encourage anyone to ask a question.

Alternatively, if the majority of your Tableau community are experienced users, pre-scheduling appointments allows you to better match the patient with the Doctor who has the specialized knowledge needed to help them.

Organizations with patient communities of varying skills may benefit from offering a combination of pre-scheduled and open office hours. Offering both types of appointments can be resource intensive and often works best for organizations that establish recurring practices (quarterly, monthly, weekly) that encourage both community and Doctor development.
The type of appointment scheduling you choose to provide may also be influenced by the type of appointment topics.

Appointment topics: Your Data Doctor practice can offer free form appointment topics, where any question or issue can be discussed, or can be themed to a specific appointment topic.

Free form Data Doctor allows any patient to bring any question or issue they have to your practice. This method is a great way to get a pulse for all the different types of issues that are occurring within your organization and collect data that can be used to identify knowledge gaps later on. In the present, it will also mean you need to find a way to match patients with Doctors who have the skills to help them. Though you can do this in an office hours format, pre-scheduling can make the process easier.

A themed Data Doctor allows you to address hot topics among your patient community or provide targeted skills training around a particular topic. Organizations have structured Data Doctor theme days around workbook performance optimization, mapping, or visual best practices. You can run this as a workshop, where a specific workbook is used and the Doctor explains how to address that issue to a group; or hold office hours and ask patients to bring in their questions or workbooks where they are having issues around that topic. With a themed Data Doctor, you may not need to pre-schedule appointments because all questions will be around the same topic.

The “Data Doctor design worksheet”, in the Appendix of this guide, can help you organize your thoughts as you design your Data Doctor practice.

Plan your practice: technology

Aside from Tableau, you will need a couple of different technology solutions to allow your patients to schedule appointments, to collect data on the ailments your Doctors treat, and to assess the skills of your team and select the best staff for the job.


There are many different appointment scheduling tools on the market. When selecting a tool, keep in mind the, data that you want to collect from your patients, type of appointments scheduling your Data Doctor practice is offering, and the level of granularity needed to match your patients to a Doctor with the skillset to help them.

The combination of your Data Doctor practice’s appointment scheduling options and patient product experience may influence the level of sophistication needed from your appointment scheduling tool. For example, if you are offering a themed Data Doctor, your appointment scheduling tool may be as simple as an Excel workbook or Google sheet as you are primarily collecting patient data and basic information about the type of issue they are experiencing.

If your Data Doctor practice is offering open office hours or pre-scheduled appointments, your appointment scheduling tool may be slightly more sophisticated. You may need to collect basic information about the issue being experienced, including the product (Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server, Tableau Prep, etc.) and their capability level (Creator, Explorer, Viewer) in order to match the patient with the right Doctor.

However, if you are offering pre-scheduled appointments and/or your patient community is more experienced with Tableau, you will need an appointment solution that offers more advanced matching capabilities, including filters on specific topics (survey analysis, sharing & collaborating, accessing via mobile devices), special skills (database architecture or structure, R, APIs), or languages.

Patient data collected during the appointment will help you match patients to Doctors and evaluate the use and success of your Data Doctor practice. Some data that you may want to consider collecting during appointment scheduling may include: name, email, department, type of issue, and issue details. Although not governed by HIPPA requirements, you may want to check in with your organization’s HR department to ensure you handle this data responsibly.

A few of the solutions that Tableau and some of our customers have used for appointment scheduling is available in the Appendix. This is not an exhaustive list but should be helpful as you begin evaluating your options.

Issue collection (Prescription)

The information your Doctors collect as they treat patients within your Data Doctor practice helps you to evaluate the heath of your organization, provides the patient with the tools they need to self-treat if the issue reoccurs, and track success toward your goals. When selecting a solution, consider the ease of Doctor’s recording information about the issues during the appointment, the information you would like to provide to your patients, and the data you need to track for Data Doctor practice evaluation.

We recommend starting with a tool that is simple to learn and easy to use. This will reduce training time for your Doctors and ensure all necessary information is consistently and accurately collected. This is especially important for data you want to track to evaluate your Data Doctor practice. Collecting data on the Doctor’s name, the issue(s) they treated, and whether the issue was resolved or not will help you to understand who your most effective Doctors are and where functional skills gaps exist within your organization.

We recommend providing each patient with a record of their appointment (a Prescription) at the end of each session. Your patients will be most interested in the solution to their issue, but context is also important. The ability for your Doctor to also record what the issue was, the troubleshooting they performed, and any available documentation they consulted are equally important for the patient to become self-sufficient if they face the same or similar issue again.

Skills assessment

The skills assessment can be used in two ways. Its most basic use is to understand what your Doctors know in order to match them more accurately with your patients. If provided to a larger (team, department, or organizational) group of individuals, it can also help you to understand where knowledge gaps exist within your patient population.

Identifying knowledge gaps can help you to determine whether offering a themed Data Doctor day or recurring practice would be the most impactful solution for your organization’s success with Tableau or could provide you with the data needed to advocate for training within your organization.

An example skills survey, example data collection spreadsheet and example Tableau workbook are included in the Appendix.

Plan your practice: location and experience

Your organization’s culture and available resources will largely influence your choices here. We have included some best practices from our experience.

Roles and staff

Your Data Doctor team is comprised of volunteers from your organization. It is important you find the right people for the job. Some roles are essential to successful Data Doctor practices regardless of size and some are only needed when you start to expand and scale across your organization. No matter what the role, search for individuals who are organized, self-managing, hard workers, and have both the skills and bandwidth to fulfill their role.

Below you will find descriptions of what each job entails. We’ve been sure to note which roles are essential and which are optional based on the size of your Data Doctor practice. We have also noted an example employee, from the example Skills Assessment in this toolkit, who fits the requirements of the role based on their skills assessment. Use the example Skills Assessment workbook for an example of what to look for when evaluating your potential staff.

Chief of Staff: This person is the lead organizer for the Data Doctor practice. They are essential to practices of all sizes. Their job is to define the Data Doctor practice concept, select and implement technology, coordinate logistics (rooms, dates, times, and promotion), select and schedule staff, run the day-of practice, report on activity and use that data to develop the practice to the organization’s needs and/or report insight gained from the data collected to organizational leadership.

In larger Data Doctor practices, some Chief of Staff share this leadership role in order to reduce the workload on a single person and foster a spirit of collaborative leadership.

Front desk: This person is essential to Data Doctor practices of all sizes. In smaller Data Doctor clinics, this individual generally manages the flow and operation of Data Doctor. In larger clinics, the Front Desk will work together with the Unit Coordinator(s) and Orderlies to ensure a smooth operational flow. Some examples of tasks that the Front Desk may perform include: assisting patients in scheduling, rescheduling, or canceling appointments; escorting patients to their Doctor. Though experience with Tableau products can be helpful in this role, it is typically not required. Example employee: Cynthia Hooper or Jerry Markovic.

Doctor: This person is essential to Data Doctor practices of all sizes. Doctors are assigned to a specific patient, either in advance or just before the appointment begins, based on their skillset and the patient’s ailment. They listen to the patient’s symptoms, research or test for solutions, and record their investigation or diagnosis for the patient and for Data Doctor practice reporting. Experience using and troubleshooting Tableau software is required for this role. Most Doctors have 1 – 2 year’s of experience with Tableau before they are prepared to be a Doctor. Example employee: Maggie Doyle or Robert Romano.

Attending: This person is optional for smaller Data Doctor practices and highly recommended for practices operating with more than 10 – 15 Doctors at the same time. The Attending is not assigned to any specific patient but makes rounds to provide additional assistance or consultation to Doctors. They are often subject matter experts in a particular Tableau feature or skillset such as visualization best practices, Level of Detail calculations, or permissions administration. In your organization, they may also be experts on your internal data sources, data structure, organizational structure, branding standards, etc. Example employee: Kerry Weaver or Don Anspaugh.

Unit Coordinator: This person is not required for smaller Data Doctor practices and recommended for practices operating with more than 10 – 15 Doctors at the same time. The Unit Coordinator is a communicator and floor manager who is responsible for ensuring that Doctors have everything they need to be successful and helping to keep appointments on time. They direct Attendings to Doctors needing aid, report technology and other issues to the Chief of Staff and provide time cues such as 5-minute warnings and Time is Up announcements. In larger practices or Data Doctor practices that are not using pre-scheduled appointments, the Unit Coordinator may work closely with the Front Desk and Orderlies to communicate which Doctors are not currently seeing patients and what types of issues they can address. Example employees: Peter Benton or Cleo Finch.

Orderly: This person is not required for smaller Data Doctor practices and recommended for practices operating with more than 10 – 15 Doctors at the same time or for practices operating in more than one conference room. Example employee: Sam Taggart.

Location requirements

Smaller Data Doctor practices (5 or fewer Doctors), can easily operate out of a standard conference room that fits 10+ people. Your Front Desk can be located at the head of the conference table or a small table just outside of the room and each Doctor can comfortably fit around the conference table with a patient beside them.

For larger Data Doctor practices, you should seek spaces that accommodate large group meetings; especially spaces that can be set up with separate tables for each Doctor. In these settings, you will need a desk large enough for 1 – 2 laptops and at least 2 chairs. For Data Doctor practices with more than 10 Doctors, or where your Front Desk may not know all the Doctor’s faces, you may want to consider table top identifiers to ensure the right patient gets to the right Doctor.

If renting a space outside of your office, be sure to consider power and internet connectivity for the for the Doctor’s, patient’s, and Front Desk laptops; network connectivity issues for any technology tools not located in the cloud; and physical access and patient flow from the entry of the rented facility to your Data Doctor practice – especially directional signage. We will talk a little more about managing patient flow later on when discussing Running your Practice.

Promote and run your practice

Promotion is the first step in ensuring success for your Data Doctor practice. Whether that is by word of mouth, intranet, email, or internal signage; your goal is to raise awareness, generate excitement, and connect with your patient community.

Templates for promotional e-mails and signage are included in the Appendix.

You have promoted your Data Doctor practice, patients and Doctors are excited, appointments are scheduled, and you are ready to open your doors. Make sure the day is successful by providing training to your team on the tools or processes they need to record data accurately and treat patients effectively.

Encouraging your team to arrive early the day your Data Doctor practice opens to answer any last minute questions, provide any final hands-on training, and get everyone excited about the event! It is best practice to circulate through the room frequently to ensure that your staff and your patients have everything they need to succeed – whether that’s pens & scratch paper, water, or restroom breaks.

Community Toolkit

Check out the other toolkits for your Tableau community

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