Tableau Metrics

Currently in the 2020.2 beta, Tableau Metrics enable you to see KPIs and trends of various measures sourced from different dashboards in an easily digestible format, which, in effect, enables data consumers to construct their own custom ‘dashboard’ of KPIs that are important to them at that point in time.

I’ve put dashboard in quotes above as I don’t mean a ‘Tableau dashboard’ in the traditional sense, but more a collection of metrics on one screen that can be easily monitored – especially on mobile.

The below diagram shows conceptually how Metrics work:

In the above example, Metrics have been created from four different Views (contained within three separate dashboards). These metrics can then all be seen together in a grid view within one folder on Tableau Server.

The metrics don’t all have to be in one folder – you can store each metric in any location you wish – however, having them all (or all related metrics) in one folder allows you to create this pseudo dashboard that you see above in Tableau server.

This is also the case when Metrics are viewed on mobile, which is where I think Metrics can add the greatest value – more on that later.

Creating a Metric

Creating Metrics is quick and easy process:

  1. Open the dashboard or view that contains the measure you want to track
  2. Select a mark in the view
  3. Click the metrics button
  4. Give it a name and description
  5. Pick a location to save it

More details and screenshots for each step, below:

Open a Dashboard or View

Below, I have a basic view showing the average days to ship a product by region:

Select a Mark

Here I’ve selected a mark on the average days to ship in the South region trend line. It’s important to note that Metrics are based on the level of detail of the mark that you select. So, for example, based on the view below, I couldn’t create a Metric to track the average days to ship a product across all regions as that is not what this view shows. It is broken down by Region, so I need to pick on of those regions for the metric to be based on.

Any mark along that line graph can be selected.

Click the Metrics Button

With the mark selected, click the Metrics button in the toolbar:

Add Name & Description and Save

Then give the Metric a name and (optionally) a description.

You can then change the location of where to save the metric. Clicking Change Location brings up a browse window to navigate through your project folders.

Finally, click Create to save the metric.

Open the Metric

Once saved, you will see a popup message with a link to open the Metric. Alternatively, you can navigate to the folder you saved the Metric in and click on it to open. The Metric display shows the View the Metric was created from and various other details.

In the Metric view you can interact by dragging the timeline marker left and right and see the value and date change in real time. Note that this interaction and visual feedback is instant.

Share the Metric with Colleagues

Metrics can easily be shared with other users on your Tableau Server:

View all Metrics in Grid View

As mentioned earlier, if you save a number of Metrics in one Project folder on Server as I’ve done below in a Project called My Metrics, the result – when viewing that Project in grid view – is a custom KPI dashboard of sorts:

View all Metrics in List View

In List View, the trend line can’t be seen, just the most recent values, however, more Metrics can be seen at one time:

Metrics on Mobile

In my opinion, this is where Metrics will have the greatest impact, for a few reasons:

  • The ability to curate a custom of list of KPIs that can be monitored at any time on the move
  • Customisation: Mobile metrics allow updating of the trend line date range (last 4 weeks, last 12 weeks etc.) and comparison time frames (i.e. the change versus last week, last month etc.)
  • The ability to switch quickly between three Metric views: value, value change and percentage change
  • Interaction is instant. There is no delay when interacting with Metrics so the user experience is very positive.

Three Views of the Same Metric

The below 3 screens show the same set of Metrics on mobile, each with a different view

  1. Most recent value
  2. Change in value versus prior period
  3. Percentage change versus prior period

You can cycle through these views by tapping any Metric value.

The custom time range settings for each Metric that I’ve set is annotated to the left.

Customising Metrics and Interaction

Finally, the video below walks through the process of opening the Tableau mobile app, navigating to a set of metrics, customising views, and general interaction.

Conclusion

The responsiveness of the UI when interacting with Metrics is really positive; the interface is clean and consistent; and the use case of enabling any user to curate their own personalised view of KPIs for monitoring – without the need to ‘build’ from scratch – is very compelling.

To learn more, go to: https://www.tableau.com/metrics

Marc Reid

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