If the requestor had follow-up questions, or wanted to view the data in a different way, the Decision Support team would have to rerun the report—causing delays. “We constantly had to re-run those reports with different selections in order to get a slightly different view of the data.” And the Decision Support team had no way to track how many people were accessing each report. Canterbury DHB wanted to encourage informed decision making across the business. Part of this goal was enabling employees to readily interact with data in a self-service, interactive format. “The ability to consolidate and filter the data required for each stakeholder was a main focus for us,” said John. The decision to purchase an analytics solution went beyond time savings. Leadership wanted to create a more data-driven culture throughout the organization. “We were interested in finding a solution which would ensure a good uptake of self-service analytics and reinforce distributed, informed decision-making across the workforce,” said John.
Introducing data analytics to the DHB workforce
A team member had heard about Tableau from respected people in the industry. He decided to download the 30-day Tableau Desktop trial at home and had positive results. “After hearing about the trial and what my staff member was able to achieve using small sets of data, I was intrigued and started wondering if this was something that would work on an organizational scale,” he says. Following a quick office demo using a sample data set, John was impressed. He purchased two Tableau Desktop licenses and the team began working with data in new and interesting ways. He challenged his team to use Tableau and see what they could produce; the engagement levels of his staff rapidly increased, prompting John to purchase another two licenses for his team. Over the course of time, John has provided all of the Decision Support team with Tableau Desktop, along with other like-minded, analytical staff members in other departments. Montage—a Tableau partner since 2008—supported Canterbury DHB at the beginning of their Tableau deployment. Montage conducted initial mentoring sessions to better understand their processes. They also utilized Tableau workbooks that had been successful for other DHBs. After using Tableau Desktop for a few months, Canterbury DHB started to share visualizations across the business using Tableau packaged workbooks. However, the team wanted to encourage collaboration and promote a single source of truth. They quickly realized they would need a better strategy for sharing interactive dashboards. “Constantly pulling data and updating the workbooks was going to be an expensive and time-consuming activity so we decided to have a look at Tableau Server, which enabled us to automate a lot of the work we had been doing,” John said.
More than a dashboard
The team’s ability to analyze and share data has delivered far-reaching benefits. John and his team can now effortlessly provide automated dashboards through Tableau Server, embedded in a SharePoint portal. As a result, staff access business intelligence data from a single source of truth to inform their decision making. One of the principles of the Decision Support team is to enable staff to “manage by fact, not anecdote.” With Tableau Server, John’s team can easily refresh the data in a visualization, instead of manually updating reports when the data changes. And employees can access views through a web browser, leading to faster turnaround times. John said, “The fact we can automate through Tableau Server means that we can turn data around quickly on a regular basis – some as frequently as every 15 minutes.” And in Tableau Server, the team can track the popularity of each view, revealing the data that is most relevant to business users. In addition to satisfying the information needs of Canterbury DHB, the Decision Support team is beginning to manage data on behalf of its sister DHB on the West Coast of the South Island. Canterbury manages the data, ensuring data quality. The team then creates dashboards—shared through Tableau Reader—to South Island district health boards at no extra effort. “A real benefit we’ve identified is that we can manage the data sets for multiple organisations through one application…This type of functionality lets us take a lead role in assisting other South Island DHBs.”