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Tableau, along with most (vast majority) of BI tools depend on column headers. Sometimes when I hit a problem with Tableau, I think about what I'm asking it to do.
Data sources, whether you're using Excel, SQL, or anything else, feed Tableau with column headers. Columns can move around in order of appearance, data can get rearranged, but one thing stays constant: column headers. There is not a 'metadata' layer that Tableau reads for column headers. It simply doesn't exist.
In data warehouses, (Excel) column headers don't change - they can't. They are referenced in views and tables by their header. The reference is static - the column header must be static. Tableau is acting precisely how it should.
When you pivot your Excel sheet, you are defining which headers should be included in the pivot. If you went in your excel sheet and re-arranged your columns, your pivot wouldn't break.
I know it isn't the answer you're looking for, but one absolute must of business intelligence in general, regardless of the visualization tool or data source you use, is to leave column headers alone. You can always alias them in the very end product.
Thank you very much for this great explanation. I can understand the technical constraint and knowing this I can certainly change my data file to have fixed month names only and get the year from somewhere else.