Proactive vs. Reactive: Stay Ahead of Schedule with Data-Driven AlertsBy: Zac Heacker | October 31, 2022
Descriptive analytics are a great way to find out what is going on in your organization – the reality on the ground.
Unfortunately, they can sometimes show you a problem long after it has taken root and grown into a serious business challenge or surface an opportunity after it has gone. Tableau Server gives you the ability to see problems and opportunities sooner with Data-Driven Alerts.
As of version 10.3, users on Server can set alerts and receive email notifications whenever a critical measure moves above or below a set threshold. Simply open a view on Server, choose a numeric axis to watch, and set an alert for a specific threshold level. You will receive an email when your data crosses your threshold. Use cases for Data-Driven Alerts include:
- Manufacturing: Parts coming off your assembly line are failing inspection at double their normal rate, indicating a potential issue with your manufacturing process.
- IT: The number of packets being sent over your network has suddenly dropped by 75%. This could be just a lull, or a signal that a critical network node is down.
- Finance: A spike in sales could represent increased business and potential opportunities; a drop in the price of a stock you’re watching might be the perfect buying opportunity
Data-driven alerts can help you stay ahead of the trends in your data and your business, address issues while they are small, and seize opportunities before your competitors see them.
One area of opportunity is project management. The next section will show you how alerts can help you plan resources for your projects and ensure you are making the most of your workforce.
Use Alerts to Track Trends
The following views allow you to see the status of your workforce. This status includes how many resources are on projects, how many are not, and how many resources you have available overall.
The first view is called Capacity. This view shows trending of the following:
- Capacity: Total number of resources available
- Allocations: Total number of resources on projects
- Bench FTE: Total number of Full-Time Employees (FTE) not on projects
This time-series chart uses a Forecast set to “Exactly 3 Weeks”. The view shows that if trends continue, we will have more resources on the bench than allocated to projects. Underutilized resources mean we need more projects in the pipeline now to minimize the resources on the bench in coming weeks.
An alert on the FTE axis will let us know when the number of our allocated resources moves above or below a certain threshold, telling us when we have too few resources available for upcoming projects or when too many will soon be sitting on the bench.
The second view, Allocations, shows the allocations measure over time.
We can set this alert to notify us whenever our upcoming allocations are projected to fall below 75% of our capacity (in our case, 50 resources). This allows us to make plans to ensure our people have a steady flow of projects to keep them busy.
The dashboard below shows another way to utilize alerts. For each project, we see how many days are left until the start of the project.
When the number of days reaches a certain threshold, everyone with a subscription to it will get the alert reminding them to prepare for project kickoff. This ensures everyone will know when their projects are about to start and enables management to confirm project readiness.
Once we have set up the alert and the Days Until Start measure reaches 14 days, we will receive the email below.
These views and their corresponding alerts show how we can apply Alerts to a real project. The steps below describe how to set an Alert.
Build the Alerts
The instructions below walk you through building a basic alert. Use it to set up alerts of your own using your data and dashboards.
1. Select a numeric axis (highlighted above).
2. Select the Alert button on the toolbar above the view.
a. Tableau Server displays the Create Alert dialog box.
3. Set up your alert:
a. Set a Condition (the threshold level on your numeric axis that will trigger the
b. Create a Subject (the subject line of the email generated by your alert).
c. Set your email Frequency (how often you will receive when the condition is
d. Select your Recipients (who will receive the email generated by your alert).
4. Select Create Alert.
Now that your alert is set, you and your recipients will receive an email from Tableau Server when your specified threshold is met.
Alerts in Tableau Server allow you to design a system of timely notifications so you can address issues before they become problems and see opportunities as they arise. Data-driven pro-activity will help you save costs, reduce waste, minimize downtime, and capitalize on new opportunities to drive your business forward.
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