State of Indiana streamlines data management and improves citizen engagement with Tableau Prep

Aggregated 29 data sources with Tableau Prep for use in a single dashboard

Dashboards drive 150+ calculations for 41 metrics across all 92 Indiana counties

56% increase in processing power for serving data platform requests

The State of Indiana Management Performance Hub (MPH) is a state agency focused on improving the quality of life for the people of Indiana through data sharing, innovation, and collaboration. The agency, run by the Indiana governor's office under the Indiana Office of Management and Budget, promotes data-driven policy that optimizes user experience and decision making while also driving public data transparency. Nonprofits, other government agencies, and everyday citizens can all visit MPH online to get the data they need for grant writing, policy advocacy, community plan development, and other program purposes.

In some cases, MPH produces data visualizations in response to user requests in areas such as education, state finances, and public health. MPH doesn't host the data itself, but rather makes a multitude of data sets and visualizations available for public use based on these requests.

Before Tableau, MPH was using business intelligence tools that ultimately proved hard to administer. In 2015, MPH began using Tableau to create visualizations that helped end users more easily shape their expectations of the data they wanted to use. The results were positive, but because Microsoft Excel was the primary data preparation tool, MPH still spent a lot of time cleansing data in individual spreadsheets and then reloading the spreadsheets into Tableau. This was inefficient, and detracted from the overall user experience. By the time a solution was ready to test, the requirements had often changed, making it a struggle for MPH analysts to keep customers engaged in the process. The agency needed a more agile workflow that could deliver visualizations closer to the speed of thought.

Improving our delivery times has greatly increased the usability of our products. With Tableau, I can meet with the end user, learn about how they want to use the data, and build something very quickly that meets their needs and expectations.

MPH was an early adopter of Tableau Prep, which they used to easily build and automate flows for multiple data sets in their Tableau workbooks. Creating pipelines in Prep Builder empowered non-ETL users for the first time to explore data sets, create data flows, and manipulate data to gain new insights. Based on this success, the agency began looking at ways to gain further efficiency by automating data flows. Using Tableau Prep Conductor (part of Tableau Data Management) MPH can now schedule, monitor, and administer the data flows to save developers time and ensure end users have current data. And with Tableau Catalog’s data lineage feature, MPH can more quickly identify and resolve errors. As Josh Martin, Chief Data Officer at MPH explained, “previously, when a workbook error occurred, we had to backtrack, find the faulty data source, and find the error within that data. Now we’re able to resolve it much faster.”

The results: a more interactive user experience, faster analytics solution development, proactive data bug detection and resolution, and new dashboards driving more than 150 calculations across dozens of data sources to support 41 metrics statewide. For example, the state's Career Connections and Talent (CCT) agency had more than 35 data sources in a variety of formats. MPH took 29 of those data sources and turned them into a single data flow in Tableau Prep Builder. This enabled easier data manipulation that could increase accessibility, organize data across customizable geographic regions, and inform new priorities and decision making. Streamlining the data flow also translated to a reduction in real-time visualization rendering from an average of 16 seconds down to six seconds—a 56% increase in processing power overall. Many states, including Indiana, have open data laws. Indiana stands out as one of few US states with legislation that creates an agency focused on leveraging data as a strategic asset. Using Tableau, MPH has matured its data culture to be nimbler on data projects and more engaged with users' needs. MPH empowers Indiana residents to access public data, and use it to answer important questions and tell deeper, more engaging stories.

Using Tableau Prep Builder for data agility, exploration, and cleansing really opens up the capabilities for our less technical users to interact with the data.