1 Reply Latest reply on Jul 19, 2019 5:24 PM by Chris McClellan

    TL/DR – looking for suggestions on how to create something that functions like a data warehouse for an organization using Tableau Online, but without long-term DBA type upkeep required

    Angie Lafferty

      I work in a small fundraising shop that uses Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge for their data, hosted by Concourse.  Before I came on board, they hired a consultant to help them build a “data warehouse”.  There were challenges to this, the details of which I’m a little unclear about, but the end result was that Concourse provides a full backup file of the live Raiser’s Edge data every night, and a script kicks off an ETL transfer and full ODS load in response.  Then a series of SQL packages create tables from the ODS, and Tableau accesses the views on top of them.  I was hired because of my data visualization background – I know how to code in SQL fairly fluently, but I’m not a DBA and I have little to no experience with SQL packages. Because this is a small non-profit with quite limited data storage needs, the IT shop is not much more experienced in those areas than I am.  I’ve been searching for a way to revamp their data storage and access process so that when I leave they would have an easier time hiring (getting someone with both data viz and DBA experience on a non-profit budget is unfeasible).  Oh, and they use Tableau Online, not Server. Here are the solutions I’ve tried or thought of, and the roadblocks I encountered.  ANY advice would be very helpful.  Maybe there isn’t a better solution than what they have now, but I’m not willing to give up until I’ve exhausted my resources.  Keep in mind, my solution exploration was, you know, googling, so if I got something wrong feel free to point that out as well!


      1. I tried using Tableau Prep, but… in order to have an extract from Prep that refreshes you either need Conductor, which is apparently only for Server and not Online, or you have to go in every day and manually refresh the extract – not ideal.
      2. I tried creating a workbook of “tables” – connecting to the Raiser’s Edge ODS and publishing to Online as data sources. I followed a relational methodology (ex. I created a gift table, and created a bridge table to connect gifts to the staff who solicited for those gifts – a one to many relationship).  Because I want non-duplicative tables, I end up needing to connect multiple tables (ex. In order to create a worksheet that shows what actions by a solicitor have led to a gift I need my Actions, ActionToSolicitorBridge, Gift, and GiftToSolicitorBridge tables).  This presents the following challenges:
        1. Tableau won’t let me use the published data sources as bases for unions or joins.  So I can’t just create a special data source for the above example, since I can’t use those tables other than as a stand-alone source.
        2. I tried every way from Sunday to blend, but the limitations in blending won’t bend enough for my needs.


      Thank you all in advance for any suggestions!