Internal Tableau User Groups
User groups are a great way to help people get smarter about Tableau by sharing knowledge, especially across departments and between offices.
Companies that launch user groups see the following benefits:
- Everyone gets smarter. Or to say it inversely, less dependence on one or two experts.
- Networking. Two brains are always better than one and being able to collaborate with other Tableau users who can bring fresh perspectives tn projects always yields better results.
- Strength in numbers. When enough data minded people get together, often the realization is that more assistance is needed from IT or those persons in charge of the data bases themselves. One voice isn't always a priority, but many voices from many departments gets more attention and better results.
Most importantly you need a group of Tableau users. This could be 2 other people on your team or 100 people spread out all over your company. It doesn’t really matter if everyone has an actual copy of Tableau or they’re just using trial versions – as long as they’re analyzing data they can benefit from connecting with other users.
Step 1: Who Is Interested
The first thing to do is to see who is interested in participating in a user group. Most people use an informal email that simply asks who would be interested in getting together from time to time to discuss using Tableau (tips and tricks, showing off current projects, etc.). If the communication is going to a large distribution list then consider using some sort of poll or vote function in your email (how: Microsoft Outlook, Gmail). Lastly, if your organization uses an intranet where you can post notices in discussion forums, etc. you might also think of letting people know that way.
Step 2: Time & Place
The second order of business after figuring out how many people are interested in forming a user group is to decide when and where it should happen. Again, depending on your organization and how many people involved you might be able to get feedback on this in the same email where you gauge interest. The best approach is to keep it simple. Does everyone work in the same office and there are conference rooms available? Perfect, pick a date/time the works for most people and send out an invite. Are some people working in different offices? No problem, just use whatever web conference solution your organization has in place to coordinate folks joining virtually (if you don't have access to a web conference solution you can try Join.Me which is free and works great for sharing screens). Getting the meeting on people's calendars is the most important thing so don't be afraid to even list the agenda as TBD.
- Make sure there is plenty of room.
- Audio: are people calling into the meeting? If yes, you'll want a speaker phone system.
- Timing: Does your office tend to plan meetings in the morning? Do people need to leave by 4pm to beat the traffic? Is food allowed in conference rooms (i.e. will a lunch session work)?
Step 3: Format & Agenda
Internal Tableau user groups come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it's having a weekly meeting at the local coffee shop to swap newly learned tricks or a quarterly conference calls with 200 people to ask questions about Server deployments - every group runs differently to suit the needs of its members. Take this into account when planning how to kick off yours.
Meeting Format Ideas:
- Coffee Sessions: Perfect for smaller groups that want to meet in the mornings and potentially for shorter periods of time. Meet at your favorite, local coffee shop!
- Brown Bag / Lunch-n-Learn: Hard to book time during people's days? Everyone has to eat. Schedule a lunch time meeting where people can bring their food in and listen or if possible, even arrange for food to be brought in (I guarantee this will increase your attendance rate).
- Web Conference: Ideal for people with really busy schedules and/or groups in various offices.
- Tableau Day: Working with your Tableau account manager to set up a Tableau Day is a fantastic way to kickoff an internal user group. Often times having a Tableau resource onsite (sometimes more than one) is another guaranteed way to really attract other users.
- Form a community!
- Create a way for the members of your group to talk to each other easily (this is what your private community page is for)
- Schedule consistent meetings
- Create a buddy system and/or mentor program