7 Replies Latest reply on Mar 7, 2017 9:36 AM by Hugh Prysten

    Solutions for putting insights and commentary in dashboards

    Matthew Dawson-Paver



      One of the great things we all know about Tableau is it's ability to deliver insights fast and in a visually appealing way. While this is great for the analyst who created the work, and maybe some other clever analysts who are good at spotting insight from a set of visuals, it sometimes isn't so great for execs for example.


      I'm really struggling to find a solution for exec level reports for those who want the insights spelled out for them actually on the scorecard, report, or analysis e.g. here's a great trending chart that updates itself each week, and here's a comment box that spells out what each large rise and fall is. And maybe it does this in a way so that each comment is visually linked to the movement it's talking about.


      This feature would be especially useful for the owners of a particular metric to be able to login and leave their insight comment, so that all the metrics trending comments can be updated by their owners each week.


      I found a tool called Metric Insights, but the comment feature on it seems a lot like the built in comments system on Tableau server. Besides that, all i can think of is maybe a web form they put their comments in and tableau just pulls that comment into a mark label. This is not ideal as we want to lessen the number of systems we depend on and make the process as simple as possible.


      Anyone seen any great solution that enables this type of in-dash commentary? Thanks in advance.

        • 1. Re: Solutions for putting insights and commentary in dashboards
          Brad Llewellyn



          If your hypothetical executive is not apt enough to draw insights from the visualizations, then why not have an analyst look at the dashboard, make his notes on it, and send it to the executive as a .PNG?  The whole idea of self-service BI is to allow the user to draw their own conclusions with the data.  If the user is unable to do that, then I wouldn't say that they are the right audience.


          On a more positive note, this can be nothing more than a training issue.  Spend some time showing the executive what the trends on the visualizations mean, then he/she can do it for him/herself in the future.  Not only does this take a burden off the analysts shoulders, it also increases the effectiveness of the executive.


          To make a final point, if your "Executive" can't understand your "Executive Dashboard", then maybe simpler visualizations are in order.


          Hope this helps,


          Brad Llewellyn

          Associate Consultant

          Mariner, LLC




          • 2. Re: Solutions for putting insights and commentary in dashboards
            Matthew Dawson-Paver

            Thanks, unfortunately like a lot of orgs we have our own specific needs, and one is to try and replace our monthly/quarterly reporting with something more automated instead of manually creating numerous charts and commentary in powerpoint. Given we may end up doing this in tableau, its likely we may want to give the metric owners the ability to comment on their own items, and then we'll simply export the finished results into a single report later on.


            There's a number of use cases to be honest, but an in-dash commentary system would be great and someone at the GM level for example will just be able to skip through a few pages of charts and have a few high level comments to read instead of having to digest each and every chart for 5+ mins each.

            • 3. Re: Solutions for putting insights and commentary in dashboards
              Jonathan Drummey

              This is one area where Tableau does not have all the features that some other BI tools have. For example, I saw a SAP demo where they did "drawing on the screen" style annotations via iPad and then shared that view.


              If a human being (i.e. an analyst) is having to make comments on the dashboards before a GM sees them, then the analyst can download the workbook, make some annotations in Tableau desktop, maybe add a comment to a text box on the dashboard, then re-upload it. The GM can then totally live in Tableau, see the commentary, and also engage whatever controls you enable for diving deeper into the data.



              1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Solutions for putting insights and commentary in dashboards
                Matthew Dawson-Paver

                Thanks for the feedback Jonathan. Annotations may be something to look into. It seems like there may not be a simple solution, and that maybe even embedding the tableau views into something like sharepoint with a comment section on the right might be the end result.

                • 5. Re: Solutions for putting insights and commentary in dashboards
                  Shawn Wallwork

                  The very first feature request I got from my primary client was to give them a place to enter comments and/or questions. I dutifully gave them a text box. They never used it, and eventually asked my to remove it.



                  • 6. Re: Solutions for putting insights and commentary in dashboards
                    Jon Brasher

                    I too have this requirement. Would it be possible to extend the comments section and add new fields to keep track of the context (what parameters the user was looking out when providing commentary). It would be nice to include this in the Postgres database that is already running on Tableau Server rather than use another system. Is it possible to add a "custom" table that will not be overwritten if the schema should change when upgrading tableau? (for example to version 9?)

                    • 7. Re: Solutions for putting insights and commentary in dashboards
                      Hugh Prysten

                      Hi Matthew,


                      We currently import an 'insights' table (date, type, insight text, image URL) that allows an analyst to populate the dashboard with textual insights using Google Docs.  It works great for reporting as using a relative date filter can allow you to look at previous insights + the data associated. The formatting isn't great in Tableau for text elements (wrap, hide columns etc) and we don't really like the Hover Image URL work-around we have through web page objects + actions.  Some native functionality to help with this would be greatly appreciated.  It would need to go beyond the current comment field and story points that don't really suit our needs.


                      Since this post is 4 years old, have you found a good solution since posting?