How to Think Like a Tableau Consultant

When we interview potential new members of our business intelligence team, it’s inevitable that the interviewer ends up asking most of the questions. What sort of projects have you had success on? What types of challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

If the situation were reversed and the interviewee asked all of the questions, one of the most important questions that should be asked is:

"How does a Tableau consultant think?"

The way a consultant thinks is perhaps more important than what a consultant knows. It goes beyond simply what’s on the resume and digs deeper into the character of the person. So, we asked our business intelligence consultants, “What exactly does it mean to think like a Tableau consultant?”

Here are their responses. Aggregated of course. ;)

Lifetime Learner

One of the common characteristics of all of Tableau consultants is their insatiable desire to learn. It might be said that Tableau consultants are born and not made. For this particular attribute, we completely agree.

The end-to-end process of leveraging data for business insight is so comprehensive, involving so many different technologies, techniques and tools that there is seemingly an infinite amount to learn. When not onsite, Tableau consultant’s passions lead them to reading, practicing, watching and absorbing everything they can from visual best practices, data preparation, ETL and more.

There is so much to learn that only those who are truly inspired can begin to master such a diverse range of skills. The drive behind continuing to learn is the belief that there is always a better way to do something. Even with an elegant solution, one extra piece of knowledge may steer the entire project into a new and more efficient direction.

Client-Focused

A common misconception is that being a data person naturally makes one an introvert. This is wrong for two reasons. First, it’s a stereotype about “nerd culture.” As proud nerds, we assure you that there are as many loud, gregarious nerds as there are shy, reclusive nerds. Nerds come in all sizes, types, personalities and colors.

After all, someone has to be the Dungeon Master.

Consultancy at its base is finding value for the client. The only way to share that value is through understanding and communication. The Tableau consultant must first understand what the client needs, what they can actually implement and the timeframe in which this need must be met. Then, the consultant must communicate why their solution is the best option and how that solution can be enacted.

Understanding and communication are the basis of a strong consultant.

It sounds simple, but that’s the magic secret. Listening carefully all of the time is the best way to find out what your client wants, even if they can’t directly tell you exactly what it is they want at the start of the project.

Be an Educator

There is some fear among consultants that spending time educating your clients is like throwing money out of the door. If we show them how to make beautiful dashboards, we’ve just eliminated a long-term client because now they can do it all themselves. A client that doesn’t know anything about what you do is, in theory, the best type of client.

Wrong.

If this is the approach of your Tableau consultant, you’re in trouble. Remember, we’ve already talked about a consultant’s lifelong passion for learning about analytics and data. There is no replacing that asset on a team. The goal should always be to make the client:

  1. Better off than when the consultant came into the project
  2. Educated so that the next project will be even more advanced and effective than the first

A confident consultant will show you the power of Tableau, because it will empower the client to see even more opportunity to grow and expand. The more proficient clients are in Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server, the bigger and cooler stuff that can be accomplished. That’s the job – make the client better. Doing this will reap rewards as happy clients are talkative clients.

Serial Problem Solver

The thing that really charges up a true Tableau consultant are challenging projects. When Tableau consultants see obstacles or encounter massive problems, it is a challenge. It is a call to arms. The most satisfying projects are the ones that are most difficult. An impossible job is like throwing down the challenge gauntlet for a Tableau consultant.

Jim Rohn, an author and business speaker, had the following quote: “Don’t wish it were easier. Wish you were better.” It’s in difficulty that knowledge and experience is forged. To strengthen your muscles, you have to be dedicated to your workout. Every day you must challenge your body to see the eventually reward of health and fitness. The exact same thing is true of strong mind.

Good Tableau consultants know this, and that’s why they gravitate towards the hardest tasks and the most ambitious objectives.

Excellence is the Best Marketing

The best consultants, regardless of industry, understand that the best way to garner repeat business from clients as well as glowing endorsements is excellence. There’s no better form of marketing than consistently performing at your absolute best each and every time.

Clients to love to share. If a consultant does a poor job, even just once, their clients will tell everyone they know about it. It can spoil a reputation. Conversely, if the consultant is committed to over delivering and doing a great job every single time they accept an engagement, clients will search them out to give them business. This self-requirement for excellence is the foundation on which all of the attributes of a great Tableau client rest.

Tableau Consultants On Demand

If you are interested in joining InterWorks as a Tableau consultant, we are always looking for motivated people with passion and ambition. Check out our Careers page for more information on open positions. The best way to start your application is to read the blogs from our consultants. You’ll start to see a similar theme through all of their stories, a unifying thread.

If you need a Tableau consultant, even if you’re in the middle of a project and need a lifeline, we can assist. Let us know how we can help.

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Robert Curtis

Analytics Consultant