YIT achieves remarkable upsurge in self-service analytics, drives thriving data culture with Tableau


New, powerful data driven culture emerges at all levels of the organisation
Self-service analytics boosts day-to-day efficiency for hundreds of employees
Tableau Prep simplifies complex data mergers, saves time and money

YIT is the largest construction company in Finland and one of the biggest in Northern Europe, generating annual revenues of €3.8 billion (2018). Founded in 1910, the company employs over 10,000 personnel across 11 countries and specialises in the development and building of residential and business premises, demanding infrastructure and paving.

In 2016, YIT conducted a major restructure of its IT operations to make systematic, long term data collection central to its core business function for the first time. This included the implementation of a new, Azure cloud-based data warehouse that would power all types of analytics. After comprehensive piloting and research of analytics end user solutions, Tableau was selected and connected directly, and has been the primary analytics platform within YIT ever since. This new approach has given rise to a powerful data driven culture, with employees at all levels of the business able to self-serve many of their own analytics needs and use the insights discovered to inform key decision making. YIT also utilises Tableau Prep to quickly and efficiently clean and test complex new data sets before data platform implementation, most notably during the company’s 2018 merger with Lemminkäinen Corporation, where it was used to combine two major HR and procurement data sources on the fly into Tableau for immediate analysis.

Tableau has quickly become ingrained in the fabric of our operations. Analytics is no longer a complex or laborious task, but something that can be done on the fly to inform decision making and boost day-to-day efficiency.

Enabling self-service analytics at all levels of the organisation

Data plays a critical role in nearly every aspect of YIT’s operations, but before 2016 there were no systems in place that allowed employees to self-serve their own data needs. Instead, all analytics had to be conducted via the company’s centralised competence centre, leaving fewer possibilities for analysis at peak times.

“The organisation was under constant pressure to deliver various reports across the business, from really simple stuff through to complex end of year analysis,” says Heikki Sulonen, Senior Analytics Manager, YIT. “The company’s strategy was to become more data-driven, with an emphasis on getting value from data. It was obvious that the analytics as a function needed to take a new direction from traditional BI towards modern business analytics.”

As part of the 2016 IT restructure, Heikki and his team looked at multiple different analytics platforms to solve this ongoing issue and quickly identified Tableau as the ideal solution for end user needs.

“Tableau’s usability and emphasis on visual analytics marked it out from the crowd early on,” says Heikki. “The diversity of toolsets also meant it could be used across a wide range of departments, while Tableau Mobile makes access possible everywhere, regardless of whether users are in the office or on a construction site.”

With Tableau in place, hundreds of employees can now conduct much of their own data analysis every week, greatly improving productivity while reducing pressure on Heikki and his team. Regular basic and advanced training sessions encourage further uptake, while a bi-weekly Tableau clinic helps to solve any issues that arise.

“It’s so easy to set up and start creating visualisations that users can go a long way on their own before needing our help,” says Heikki. “Everything is published in Tableau too, meaning the company has a single source of truth to work from rather than sending Excel spreadsheets around via email all the time.”

Tableau Mobile makes access possible everywhere, regardless of whether users are in the office or on a construction site.

Fostering a powerful data driven culture

YIT’s Tableau-based approach to analytics has also created a powerful new data driven culture throughout the company that didn’t previously exist.

“Employees are really interested in data and what they can do with it now,” says Heikki. “Many of them didn’t really know what was possible before, but Tableau has brought a new level of accessibility that’s got everyone excited.”

Heikki attributes much of this to Tableau’s visual approach and intuitive interface, meaning new users can pick it up quickly and start creating dashboards that yield genuine insights right away. Unique users building dashboards and interacting with data grows on average by 100% every 6 months.

“Analytics is much more attractive now,” says Heikki. “Uptake of Tableau has grown organically as well, as people in all departments recommend it to their colleagues.”

The use of embedded dashboards across YIT’s intranet also means that in some cases employees don’t even realise they are using it.

“Tableau has quickly become ingrained in the fabric of our operations,” says Heikki. “Analytics is no longer a complex or laborious task, but something that can be done on the fly to inform decision making and boost day-to-day efficiency.”

Employees are really interested in data and what they can do with it now. Many of them didn’t really know what was possible before, but Tableau has brought a new level of accessibility that’s got everyone excited.

Creating a new level of professionalism and consistency across all reporting

Another key aspect of Tableau that Heikki and his team were keen to take advantage of was its uniform tools and templates, which have allowed them to create a consistent, professional look across all reporting taking place throughout YIT for the first time.

“Before Tableau it was extremely hard to ensure reporting consistency,” says Heikki. “Many employees were operating in local silos and creating Excel reports that maybe made sense to them but not anyone else.”

“Now, everyone is working from a single source of truth and delivering both internal and external reports that all have the same look and feel, from the colours and fonts to the headers and graphics used.”

We were able to use Tableau Prep to merge the HR and procurement data quickly, cleaning, shaping and combining both sets of data for easy consolidation in Tableau. We saved huge amounts of time and money in the process.

Simplifying and combining complex data with Tableau Prep

In 2018, YIT completed a major merger with another Finnish construction company; Lemminkäinen Corporation. As part of the merger, all of Lemminkäinen’s key data had to be cleaned and combined with YIT’s, so it could be added to the cloud-based database and then connected to Tableau for future analytics purposes.

“We took over the HR and procurement data,” says Heikki. “With the help of Tableau Prep we were able to provide the business with critical information of the merged company in no time.”

Such tasks can often take many years to complete, but Heikki and his team were able to be much more agile and create an initial solution over disparate systems for immediate business results, which would also serve as a long-term data engineering guideline.

“In situations like this, the separate data sources can often be wildly different in terms of scope, quality and consistency, making the task extremely difficult,” says Heikki. “Fortunately, we were able to use Tableau Prep to merge the HR and procurement data quickly, cleaning, shaping and combining both sets of data for easy consolidation in Tableau. We saved huge amounts of time and money in the process.”

As a result, critical information from both companies, such as head count, can now be viewed as one in Tableau, making life a lot easier for the newly combined HR department. Prep is also used in other areas of the organisation to test the flow of data coming from multiple different vendors and make everything accessible via a handful of comprehensive Tableau dashboards.

“Tableau Prep played a key role in the success of the recent merger and continues to be an invaluable part of our day-to-day operations,” says Heikki. “It offers a really flexible first line solution whenever people require it. It allows us to maximise our operational efficiency by empowering employees with all the information they need to perform to the best of their ability, at all times.”