Tableau Developers – where should they sit within an organisation?

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Often large organisations struggle with where Tableau developers should sit within the organisation.

This could also apply to any other reporting software, the likes of Power BI, Qlik, etc.

As some technology is involved (i.e. Tableau) there is often a strong argument to lump it in with IT.

3 people around a laptop reviewing a tableau dashboard
Reviewing a dashboard with the users

Is Business Intelligence and dashboard development an IT role?

However, I believe this is incorrect.

The optimal place for Tableau Developers is embedded within the team of target dashboard users. Therefore the only time when Tableau Developers would fit within IT would be when the audience of the dashboards is IT.

Tableau development is a business role

The better Tableau developers I have come across are business people with technical knowledge.

Tableau development teams generally work in partnership with an accompanying IT team but not as part of that IT team.

A good Tableau developer does require a reasonable level of technical understanding. As well as knowing how to use Tableau software, good database and ETL skills are very useful.

Dashboard value is more important than appearance

However to really excel in the role the key is what information is provided to the business. In other words the quality of the reports; the information they provide.

  • Do the reports add value?
  • Do they fully support decision making?
  • Are they simple to understand?

To produce top class reporting it’s vital to understand what information the business users need.

Although what they need isn’t necessarily what they say they want.

Also understand why they need it and how they use it.

This level of business understanding is harder to acquire sat away from the business in an IT function.

Communication skills are very important

Communication with users is critical to success.

Sitting alongside the users simplify this significantly.

At the best of times communication between business people and technical people is often challenging, therefore introducing physical distance complicates this even further.

Perhaps the organisational decision makers should also picture Tableau slightly differently.

I believe Tableau, as a company, would like to see themselves viewed similarly to Excel.

They want everyone in an organisation having Tableau Desktop on their machines, as Excel is today.

Would it make sense for everyone who builds models in Excel to sit within IT?

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