Tableau Conditional Alerts using Subscriptions

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Send alerts using Subscriptions in Tableau

Are you finding standard Tableau Alerts aren’t as flexible as you need? Looking for an alternative way to trigger conditional alerts in Tableau?

Out of the box alerts in Tableau are based on a measure value breaching a threshold, thereby triggering the alert.

However, not all alerts you want to send may be based on a measure value. Perhaps you want to send an alert based on an event.

For example, perhaps you want to be alerted when a new record appears, or something unexpected happens in the data, etc.

This is where we can use Tableau Subscriptions to build an alternative type of alert.

How to use Tableau Subscriptions to build conditional Alerts

One of the most useful features of a Tableau subscription is the option to “Don’t send if the view is empty”.

That means if the dashboard is empty the email isn’t sent – assuming you only publish dashboards to your server – but more on that later.

We can use this subscription option to send our alternative alerts.

Taking an example, perhaps you want to monitor data quality, and alert when something is awry.

Imagine data is manually entered into your CRM and the rules around what you can entered are quite lax.

Maybe it’s possible to add a value into the Email field without including an @ symbol.

This would obviously be dodgy and should be flagged to the data owner.

Therefore, you could create a simple table of data containing all email addresses, the data owner name, and if you want to be user friendly, using URL actions provide a link to the record in the CRM

Create a simple Boolean calculated field to check if the @ symbol is in the Email address field.

NOT CONTAINS(“@”,[Email])

Put that field to the filters shelf and set to True. The table will now only show email addresses without the @ symbol – i.e. dodgy records to be corrected.

When all email addresses in the CRM contain an @ symbol the table will be empty.

Set up the Tableau Alert using Subscriptions

Put this simple table worksheet into a simple dashboard and publish to the server.

When I say a “simple dashboard” I mean the table should be the only worksheet on the dashboard.

Sometimes dashboards contain other worksheets, for example when using a worksheet for dashboard branding.

Remove all other worksheets from the Alert dashboard.

Now we have a table that returns all records with a dodgy email address.

When there aren’t any dodgy records, which is good news, the table is empty.

Finally create the alert. Remember this is an alternative Tableau alert using subscriptions.

Set up the subscription as normal, decide the frequency the users should be alerted, and, very importantly, remember to check “Don’t send if the view is empty”.

subscribing to a Tableau dashboard with Don't send if view is empty highlighted
Only send the alert when the table contains something to send

Your custom Tableau alert is built!

That’s all there is to it. This works for multiple scenarios; as long as there is a business rule, this technique can inform those who need to know.

I’ve used this to:

  • Manage permissions; where it flags all users who have left the organisation, flags users who have changed roles, etc.
  • Notify Investment Specialists, Portfolio Managers and Sales people of under-performing funds / ETFs, to give the opportunity to defend assets.
  • Inform administrators of invalid data in master data systems – ISIN structure specifically.
  • Alert when a value has changed over a certain limit day on day

It’s a very flexible and automated way to inform users when there is something in the data they need to know about. A proactive “to-do” list.

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