Tableau is a reporting platform that focuses on visualization for the end user experience.  It’s real strength is its graphs, maps, charts…etc and the ability to change or pivot the data on the fly.

Tableau varies from something like Crystal Reports, where you choose parameters, then Refresh your report.  Tableau allows you to dynamically change variables (drag /drop ) that change all corresponding graphs/charts.  Crystal Dashboard is a similar type solution that is Flash based.

When considering whether to use Tableau for your reporting needs, you have to ask yourself what are the Business Intelligence factors that are important to your company?

  1. Graphs/Charts/Visualization?
  2. Or are you more interested in the tabular data like financial statements (Balance Sheets, P&L Statements), Inventory Reports, Sales Order Reports…etc?
  3. What is your software budget for the reporting software itself?  What is your implementation and report development budget?

Here are the components of Tableau:

  • Tableau Desktop = This is used to design and build the reports and data sources
  • Tableau Server = This is where reports are published so that users can view the reports within a web page
  • Tableau Online = Users can publish reports online and use this instead of Tableau Server.  However, you will need to ensure that Tableau Online can connect properly to your database (SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle..etc) so that data can be refreshed.


  • Interactivity with the reports to “pivot” your data like Excel Pivot Tables.
  • Web based reports with Server edition.
  • Tablet and mobile friendly.


  • There is software cost associated with Tableau.  Tableau sits on top of a database such as SQL Server.  If you already have SQL Server, you have an existing reporting solution such as SQL Server Reporting Services in which there is no additional cost.
  • It not a miracle reporting tool.  You still need to create data set that denormalizes your data properly so that it is useful.  Or create cubes.

Engaging a good Tableau Reports Developer can help architect the solution and the data sources so that end users can easily slice and dice the data and get the best experience out of Tableau.

Reporting Guru can objectively help you decide if Tableau is right for you.  We don’t make software commission, so we don’t push any particular vendor.  Our goal is to be your long term reporting partner, so it is in our best interest to architect the overall best solution whether that is Tableau or some other BI platform.

Whether you want to discuss Tableau or some other reporting platform, need a reporting solution implemented, or custom reports developed, give us a call at 1-800-921-4759 or fill out our contact form.

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