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How to Build Powerful Tableau KPI Dashboard (Step by Step)

Tableau is a powerful data visualization tool that can help you track your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). With the right dashboard, you can make informed business decisions to help your company grow and succeed. This blog post will walk you through the steps needed to create an effective Tableau KPI dashboard. Let’s get started!

Why you need Tableau KPI dashboards

“You get what you measure” is just one of the popular sayings about the importance of KPIs for your business. You need to be able to see how well you’re doing, understand what’s working and what isn’t, and take action to keep things moving in the right direction. And visualization tools, such as Tableau, can help you see those measurements at a glance.

Let’s say your business goal is to increase sales by 20%. Creating a dashboard with all KPIs that are relevant to this goal would be extremely helpful. The dashboard may include things like the number of units sold, dollars sold, and average order value. 

Creating KPI dashboards in Tableau can give you a bird’s eye view of your business. These dashboards allow you to see KPIs in one place and provide a quick way to understand how you perform against your goal. You can easily track and monitor progress in real-time, identify areas of improvement, also spot trends and make predictions.

How to create a basic KPI Dashboard in Tableau

Now, let’s look at how to create a basic KPI dashboard in Tableau. For this tutorial, we use Tableau Cloud. However, you can also use any other version of Tableau that you have to try out the steps in this section, even though a few steps might be slightly different. 

Now, follow these steps to get started building a KPI dashboard in Tableau:

Step 1: Choose your KPIs

The first step in creating a Tableau KPI dashboard is choosing the KPIs you want to track. This will depend on your business goals and what metrics are most important to you. For example, if you’re trying to increase profits, you might want to track KPIs such as total sales, expenses, and profit, including their changes over time.   

Step 2: Prepare your data sources

Once you’ve chosen your KPIs, the next step is to select your data source. This can be any data containing the KPIs you want to track. For example, if you’re tracking sales data, your data source could be a Salesforce database. If you’re tracking customer satisfaction data, your data source could be an online survey platform like SurveyMonkey.

For this article, we’ll use the Superstore sample data set to create a very simple dashboard that tracks Profit. To give you a big picture, here is the final dashboard we will build:

1 A very simple Tableau KPI Dashboard

As you can see, the Tableau KPI dashboard above shows KPIs, such as total profit, including its monthly changes over time. In addition, it shows the % change compared to the previous year.

Step 3: Connect to your data source

As explained previously, we’re going to use the Superstore sample data set. To connect and perform the steps below: 

  1. Create a new Workbook by clicking on New > Workbook.
2 Creating a new Workbook in Tableau Cloud
  1. The Connect to Data window may immediately prompt you to choose a data source. In the On This Site tab of this window, let’s just select the Superstore Datasource and click Connect
Connecting to Superstore Datasource in Tableau Cloud 1
  1. You will see the following screen once the data source is loaded. There are three tables you can find on the left pane: Orders, People, and Returns.
3 The Superstore Datasource is loaded into the Workbook
  1. We will only be focusing on the Orders table. So, if you want, hide the People and Returns tables by right-clicking on each of them and selecting Hide.
4 Hiding a table

Step 4: Add charts to visualize KPIs in Tableau

Now that you’re connected to your data source, it’s time to add a chart. We’ll show a monthly profit over the year 2022—a line chart is a powerful and effective way to illustrate this data.

Make sure you are on the Sheet1 tab. Then, follow the steps below:

  1. Drag and drop Order Date into the Columns shelf and Profit into the Rows shelf.
5 A line chart showing Profit
  1. Click the arrow on the YEAR(Order Date) dimension on the Columns shelf and select Filter. On the Filter window, select only 2022 from the list and click OK.
6 Applying a filter to Order Date
  1. Click the arrow on the YEAR(Order Date) dimension again and change the granularity to MONTH(Order Date).
7 Changing the Order Date to display in a monthly perio
  1. Notice the chart is now updated, showing a monthly Profit in 2022:
8 A line chart showing a monthly Profit in 2022

Step 5: Customize your charts

Once you’ve added a line chart, you can customize it as you want to make it more visually appealing and easier to understand. You can experiment with this until you’re happy with how it looks.

For example, if you wish to change the line color, click Color in the Marks card and select the color you want.

9 Changing the line color

For better readability, you can drag Profit from the Measures data pane to Label in the Marks card. This will show profits in the line chart:

10 Showing the profits in the chart

If you want to show only minimum and maximum profits in the chart, click Label in the Marks card and select Min/Max in the Marks to Label dropdown.

11 Showing Min Max profits in the chart

To format the profits in Currency, click the arrow in the SUM(Profit) label and select Format Number. Choose Currency and adjust the Decimal Place as you want:

12 Formatting the numbers

To remove X-Axis’s header, right-click on any month’s name and unselect Show Header. You can also remove Y-Axis’s header by right-clicking the Y-Axis and unselecting Show Header.

13 Removing headers

Now, our chart will look like this:

14 The final chart

Step 6: Add titles to your chart

Adding titles to your charts helps viewers know what they’re looking at. 

In our case, we’ll add a title that shows the total profit for 2022, including the % change over last year’s value. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new calculated field Profit 2022 based on the Profit and Order Date fields. To do that, click on the arrow icon next to the filter icon and select Create Calculated Field
15 Creating a new calculated field

After that, rename the field from Calculation1 to Profit 2022. In the calculated field window, type the following formula:

{ FIXED: SUM(IF YEAR([Order Date]) = 2022 THEN [Profit] END )}

{ FIXED: SUM(IF YEAR([Order Date]) = 2022 THEN [Profit] END )}
16 The Profit 2022 calculated field
  1. Repeat Step 1 above to add another calculated field called Profit 2021 with the following formula:

{ FIXED: SUM(IF YEAR([Order Date]) = 2021 THEN [Profit] END )}

17 The Profit 2021 calculated field
  1. Again, repeat Step 1 for the % Change calculated field with the following formula:

(SUM([Profit 2022])-SUM([Profit 2021]))/SUM([Profit 2021])

18 The Change calculated field
  1. Rename Sheet1 to PROFIT by right-clicking on the sheet name and selecting Rename. Enter “PROFIT” and click OK. Notice that after that, the sheet’s title is automatically changed to PROFIT
19 Renaming Sheet1 to PROFIT
  1. Drag the Profit 2022 calculated field and drop it to Detail in the Marks card. Do the same for the % Change field. 
20 Adding the Profit 2022 and Change fields into the sheet
  1. Format the % Change measurement to Percentage and set its Decimal Places value to 0.
21 Formatting the Change field
  1. Double-click the sheet’s title to open the Edit Title window. 
  2. In the Edit Title window, insert the total profit by clicking on the Insert dropdown and selecting SUM(Profit 2022). Also, insert the AGG(% Change) value and format the title as you like—here is an example: 
22 Editing the title
  1. Click OK to close the Edit Title window and apply the changes.
23 The final title

Step 7: Put the chart in a KPI dashboard in Tableau

We’ve created a worksheet with a chart and title showing KPIs. Now, it’s time to put them on a proper Tableau KPI dashboard.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Create a dashboard by clicking on the New Dashboard icon at the bottom.
24 The Create New Dashboard icon
  1. Add the PROFIT sheet to the dashboard by dragging and dropping it to the canvas.
25 Adding the PROFIT sheet to the dashboard
  1. Drag a Text object to the top of the dashboard to enter a title. When done, click OK and resize the title area as you like.
26 Adding a title to your Tableau KPI Dashboard
  1. If you want, select the size of your dashboard. A 1000 x 800 canvas is recommended for most laptops and desktops but feel free to choose one that best suits what you need. 
27 The dashboard size
  1. To save your work, click Publish As. Select the location you want in the Publish Workbook window and click Publish. Please note that if you select Personal Space, the Workbook will be private to you, and collaboration tools like Share and Subscription will not be visible. 
28 Saving the Workbook

Congratulations! You have just created your first KPI dashboard in Tableau. Though we only used one sheet here, hopefully, all of the steps explained will help you create a KPI dashboard in Tableau for work or just for fun! 😉

Build an advanced dashboard in Tableau and other BI tools

If your goal is to create a more complex dashboard that will not only store versatile metrics but will contribute heavily to decision-making, you will need a certain data analytics expertise. Moreover, you may be willing to have dashboards built with different BI tools in addition to Tableau, for example, Power BI or Data Studio. In this case, the best decision will be to delegate this task to a professional data analyst with tons of experience.

Coupler.io provides a team of such experts united under the data analytics consulting service. Our highly skilled data analysts will help you solve most of the data management issues you are likely to face from building a sales dashboard to setting up a data infrastructure. 

29 coupler.io

But the most valuable offer is that Coupler.io’s data analytics and consulting team is able to guide you through the data-driven decision making whichever goal you pursue. If you feel you would benefit from such assistance, follow the link to request the necessary data service.

How to share your KPI dashboard created in Tableau 

There are a few different ways to share a Tableau dashboard you’ve created.

The most common option is to use the Share button located in the upper-right corner of your dashboard’s view. This will allow you to share the dashboard with specific Tableau users within your organization. You can also share it with even larger audiences using a link or embed code.

30 The Share button

To make your dashboard available to anyone on the web, you can publish it through Tableau Public. However, there’s no option in Tableau Cloud for publishing directly to Tableau Public. Instead, you will have to use Tableau Desktop to do it.

You can Download your dashboard as an image, PDF, or PowerPoint file, then attach it to an email. Downloading the entire Workbook (.twbx) to your computer is also possible. In addition, you can export the data used in the visualization as a Crosstab (Excel or CSV).

31 The Download button

Downloading as a Crosstab is suitable if you want to do further analysis in Excel. But if you need to export data frequently, then doing it automatically on a schedule will be more convenient and save a lot of your time. An integration tool such as Coupler.io can help you in this case.

32 Coupler.io is a solution to export data from Tableau to Excel automatically

To automatically export data from Tableau to Excel, start by signing up for a Coupler.io account. Then, set up an importer with Tableau as a data source and Microsoft Excel as the destination. Next, simply follow the instructions in the wizard to have your Tableau to Excel integration ready to run.

33 Selecting Tableau as a data source and Microsoft Excel as a destination

Tableau KPI dashboard examples

Now that we’ve covered the steps for creating a basic KPI dashboard in Tableau, let’s look at some examples from Tableau Public Gallery to give you some ideas of what’s possible with dashboards and how they can be used to track different KPIs.

Example 1: Executive KPI Tableau dashboard 

KPIs help decision-makers see how well their company performs against specific goals. Those in the C-suite rely on KPIs to measure progress and make decisions.

An effective executive KPI Tableau dashboard displays the most important information clearly and simply. Each KPI is useful in its own way, but together they give a comprehensive overview of the company’s health. 

The following is an excellent example of an Executive KPI Tableau Dashboard. In this dashboard, you can see how DataSpark Analytics has organized the KPIs by different perspectives, such as finance, marketing, and operational. They also group the KPIs neatly to make the dashboard clean and easy to understand.

34 Tableau Executive KPI Dashboard example

Example 2: Sales KPI Tableau dashboard

Sales KPI dashboards include several KPIs that offer valuable insights into your sales and marketing team. Many businesses track KPIs such as total sales, sales growth, conversion rate, and cost per lead.

The following is an example of a Sales Marketing KPI Dashboard in Tableau by Priya Padham. It lets you see total sales, market spends, and conversion rate. You can also see black/red arrows indicating whether there was a positive or negative change from the previous year.

35 Tableau Sales Marketing KPI Dashboard example

Example 3: Customer satisfaction KPI Tableau dashboard

It’s important for any company to know how satisfied and loyal their customers are. That way, they can likely grow future revenues as well. To monitor customer satisfaction, some great examples of KPIs are Net Promoter Score (NPS), customer retention rate, and customer satisfaction index.

The following NPS dashboard shows the customer satisfaction score based on the number of Promoters, Passives, and Detractors. There’s also a line chart at the bottom that shows the previous year’s data for comparison.

36 Tableau Customer Satisfaction KPI Dashboard example

Example 4: Retailer KPI dashboard example in Tableau

Here is an example of a Retailer KPI dashboard created in Tableau by David Hoskins. The dashboard tracks common indicators of growth in retail, such as sales volume and average transaction value. At the bottom, there are charts showing the top 10 stores, departments, products, and declining products.

37 Tableau Retailer KPI Dashboard example

Tips for building powerful Tableau KPI dashboards

Having a powerful KPI Tableau dashboard with the right charts and info can be an effective way to engage your audiences. It should also have an easy-to-understand interface that provides enough detail. 

The process of designing a dashboard may rely heavily on the skills and creativity of the dashboard designer. However, there are some general principles and tips we recommend following when designing yours:

  • Understand the purpose of your Tableau KPI dashboard. WHO will be viewing it? WHAT do they need to see? WHY do they need to see it? Knowing and understanding the answers to these questions will help you to determine which KPIs and charts to include.
  • Start with the most important KPIs. You can always add more as needed. In addition, you can always create additional dashboards for different audiences or specific purposes.
  • Choose the right chart for each KPI. Not all KPIs are best represented by the same type of chart. 
  • Use colors, fonts, and layout effectively to make your dashboard visually appealing. People are more likely to engage with a dashboard that looks good. Taking care of these little details can make a big difference in the overall look and feel of your dashboard.
  • If needed, use advanced visualizations such as parameters, filters, reference lines, and annotations to make your dashboard more interactive. These can help your audiences explore the data and find the necessary information.

Hopefully, the above tips can help you create a KPI dashboard in Tableau that is both effective and visually appealing. Thanks for reading, and happy designing!

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