Operational and Reporting Risks for Tableau-Heavy Organizations

Yasir Ali | yali@predictdata.io | www.predictdata.io

This analysis is not meant to be a critique of Tableau or calls-to-arm to change vendors. I love using Tableau and recommend it highly to all my clients. It’s an amazing and easy-to-use product suited for business users. All I a meant to convey here is to be aware of risks inherent to a Tableau-based reporting infrastructure.


Tableau is the data visualization tool of choice for many Enterprises. Most large financial services firms in Banking, Capital Markets and Insurance are either using Tableau or are considering it as the primary Data Analytics Reporting tool. This phenomenon has increased operational and financial risk that is poorly understood.

Why is Tableau so great?

The dynamic visualizations and the ease of use makes Tableau a great tool for non-technical users. Pretty visuals and compelling images has made this tool a user- favorite throughout the organizations in diverse areas such as sales, marketing, finance, risk. With appropriate licenses, a user can create pivot-table type reports. There is tremendous flexibility in adding calculations and segmentions.

Tableau vs (Business Objects OR QlikView)

The main differentiator in some of the classic visualization tools and Tableau is the Self-Serve vs Federated model. In tools such as Business Objects, the Data Load process is tightly coupled with the hosted Reporting Server. Tableau, in addition to reading through a reporting database, also allows users to upload data and edit reports. These changes can be via calculations and segmentation recoding that most users can easily edit. Integrity of numbers can easily be compromised, especially in organizations where data governance is light.

Risks of Tableau-based Reporting for the Organization

As Tableau becomes a prominent aspect of your organization’s reporting toolset, the Tableau dashboards have become de facto financials reporting sources. Other reporting that is quite prevalent via Tableau is Risk (including Regulatory filings), performance, KPIs, SLAs, Project Management etc.

The ease of polluting sensitive data creates an operation risk that many organizations have not quite appreciated.

Risk-Reducing Remedies

Change Control of Tableau Reports

Tight User Management Policy

·      Mark the Tableau Report automatically whenever a fixed report has been modified.

·      Strict User Management/ Governance function in the organization to control the proliferation of key reports in various business functions. All Data Transformations are conducted in the Database or ETL layer-not on Tableau Front end.

Yasir Ali yali@predictdata.io www.predictdata.io