Tableau & Dynamics GP Together

Recently, we invited Marc Lobree of Tableau to give a Tableau Data Visualization demo using a dataset from Microsoft Dynamics. Encore set up our database connector, and connected to Tableau from the Microsoft Dynamics GP database in a snap.

Encore has a Gold Certification for Microsoft Dynamics ERP, and is an authorized Tableau Reseller.

If you want to connect your Microsoft Dynamics ERP or CRM to Tableau Data Visualization, contact us.

Drive Dynamic Data Inights With Tableau

Note that what follows is a transcript of the video; it may not be 100% accurate.


Welcome everyone. I want to welcome everyone who’s on the line to Encore’s Tableau webcast. My name is Carlos Ekkert, and I’m one of the product marketers here on staff at Encore Business Solutions. We’ve got an exciting webcast prepared for you today. It’s going to be packed full. And we have less than an hour for this webcast. We’ll probably shoot to wrap it in about 45 minutes to see if there’s some questions that we can run through at the end. But we’re going to keep it fairly tight to get through everything.

Joining me, and I want to welcome, is Marc Lobree who is one of the Tableau product leads at Tableau and will be presenting a good portion of our Tableau webcast. So welcome, Marc.


Thank you.


Marc is a very informed person on the BI space, and I’ve learned a few things from him. He’ll be running much of the presentation of Tableau today. A bit about Tableau: Tableau is one of our premier BI solution providers that we’ve partnered with now for quite some time. And we’ve seen some great results from… Tableau is one of the fastest growing BI software providers today, and it’s been placed in the leaders’ quadrant in Gartner’s reviews over and over again. Marc is going to show us exactly how organizations are leveraging tools like Tableau to make themselves a lot more efficient when collaborating and targeting items like your AT or AR in cash flow and other examples. So if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to use the chat feature on the right-hand side during the presentation. We’re not going to be entertaining any audible questions during the actual webcast, just to make sure we get through all the planned agenda. But I will be monitoring those questions that you submit and take them down. And we’ll be answering them and addressing as many as we can for the end of the webinar.

I know we’re all busy, so let’s get started. I’m going to hand it over to marc who’s going to walk us through the next section of the webcast. Thank you, Marc.


[00:02:19] Great. Thanks, Carlos. So a little bit about myself and my role here at Tableau so that we’re all acquainted is I’m a presales consultant for our partnership organization, otherwise known as channel. It’s been an interesting journey being a part of a channel team, putting on a lot of different hats. But my big goal is that I do whatever it takes to help my partners provide the best solutions possible for their customers. Whether that be training, marketing, content, or opportunity support – I get to put on all those hats and experience a lot. So hopefully some of that knowledge will come through today.

Before we get going on a product demonstration or higher-level content, I want to give a brief introduction to Tableau’s mission statement and what we’re about. Tableau’s mission statement is to help people see and understand their data. In the past the only people who had access to data were advanced data workers – folks who know how to write SQL script, not just SQL script but how to do proper joins, how to create views. Or maybe they’re skilled at using statistical packages or statistical languages like R and SAS. That knowledge base really focused on a few people, and because of that we had this report factory created – with only a few people being able to create reports. And many people needing that data, we had a big clog of workflow, and it really slowed down BI implementations.

One last bit: on our mission statement of helping people see and understand their data is our goal is to put the power of analytics and information that you can gain from your data into the hands of everyday user. So one thing, some food for thought as I go through the demonstration. In fact, this was a contention I had when I first got introduced to Tableau is sometimes when I see things done, I think to myself, “Well, I could do that.” And that may be true and most likely you really can. But think to yourself and kind of imagine, “Now that we have a tool to do these tasks with and to speed up our process, what more can I do with my time? And how can I position myself inside my company better with that added time?”

About the products, I’m just going to quickly introduce the products that we have, is a two-product offering. We have our Tableau Desktop Tool, in which you’ll see me creating the charts connecting to data, and our ad-hoc report authoring occurs in. This is where you’ll create calculations and metadata, so that way you can have a relationship to send out that information to a broader audience. And that broader audience will receive that information in our Tableau server product. It’s an in-browser server where your end user will log in through either our portal or embedded in one of your portals. And they’ll be able to see all of the information that they have permissions and rights to see. That way we can have governance over our data and automation over updating that information.

Our third product is Tableau Public. It’s a free product online, anyone can use. For all intents and purposes of this webinar, it’s mostly useful if you’re stuck on what to do with creating a dashboard. This is a great place to go and get some ideas from.

Some key points that I want to kind of explicitly talk about at a high level before I get into the demonstration, these are points that I’m going to hit. But I won’t necessarily vocalize that I’m hitting them. The first thing is we have speed to insight and ease of use. For a financial department, I don’t think any of the explained the importance of speed to insight and the ROI obtained to it. But the ease of use factor is oftentimes overlooked, especially on the folks who are an advanced user. A big issue with legacy BI vendors is that their BI implementations tend to fail, and that’s because it’s hard to use and it’s not easy to learn. And adoption occurs when everyone is able to participate and understand what’s going on. And the ease of use factor plays a major role in how Tableau spreads across the company.

I also wanted to bring up our analytical presentation piece. It’s a feature called Story Points. Now typically, would it bring it up in a normal product demonstration? But for a lot of our folks who need to stand up in front of a meeting and give a quick-hitter presentation of their analytics, this piece is fantastic. It allows for a guided presentation of the points you want to hit, so that way you don’t ever get stuck going down rabbit holes of the user interactions.

Also wanted to mention a bit about data governance and single version of truth. Since we’re working with financial information, this is key. Data governance and Tableau happens on two parts while I’m connecting to data. You’re going to see it in a sec on how Encore Business Solutions set up what I was allowed to connect to. And single version of truth, we want to make sure everyone who’s connecting with information is connecting to the same information and they’re leveraging the same metadata for that information.

And finally, I want to hit end user experience. I’m just going to show it off. End user experience is important for adoption. It’s important for your own internal campaign. If you’re creating these reports, you want them to be profession. You want them to be easy to use. You want people to like to use them. That way Tableau is successful in helping an organization. And you kind of run an internal campaign for yourself on being able to expose helpful information.

So with that, I’m going to jump into the demonstration. See here I just need to load up one more instance of my server. Some of the servers need to fire up from when I restarted my computer. Just to make sure everything is working as expected. It is, okay. Right here is where you are engaged into a landing page of Tableau desktop. On the middle here I have all of the workbooks I have been currently working on. And to my left I have all of my data sources I can connect to. So we have our flat files like Excel or Access or CSVs. And below we have our servers. We have Salesforce. If you have an ODBC, we can connect to it. You can see Microsoft SQL Server, which I’m sure most folks are familiar with working with Microsoft Dynamics ERP systems. We even have a plethora of other native connecting data sources that you can leverage if you have that data source on the back end.

Now typically in a demonstration, I would go and connect to Microsoft SQL Server or I would go connect to an Excel server or Excel table. I would go and connect to that raw data and pull it in. But I am that average business user, quite literally. I’m not a very experienced user of working with Microsoft Dynamics ERP data. But I still want to be effective for my company. And how I can do that is by leveraging data sources that folks who have more robust knowledge of the Microsoft Dynamics ERP system can set up for people like me. And quite literally, Encore Business Solutions had a few of their engineers set up Tableau data sources about specific financial analytics for me. So we’re going to go and take a look at accounts receivable and accounts payable. And the way we’re able to do that is because they set up those data sources for me to connect up to. So that way someone like me can be effective in the company. So instead of coming to Microsoft SQL Server, I come to Tableau server. And you can see the data sources that have been published up to Tableau server for me to connect up to. So now these data sources are pointed at the underlying data. They’re pointed at that Microsoft SQL Server. But it’s in a framework where it’s controlled; you know who is connecting to what; and when they’re connecting to it, what they can see.

So let’s go ahead and connect up to our accounts receivable and take a look at what accounts we need to collect money on. Below you can see all of the fields populate. And if I wanted to get an updated view just to check out the data and the data types, I can do so. It’s asking me to go to a worksheet, so let’s pop in there and see what we find. On our left side here we have our dimensions and below we have measures. Dimensions are all of the fields inside the data source Tableau recognized as a categorical variable – things like customer name, customer class, city, dates. Below we have our measures. These are fields that you’re going to aggregate. These are quantifiable fields, things like what is currently owed to my company or what is currently owed in these specific time frames. Sales or profits, those are all measures that would fall into there. And if Tableau didn’t recognize them correctly, you can always right-click and tell Tableau to change the data type. And then to my right – just an introduction to this, and we’re going to get into it – is our canvas for building our visualizations. So if I wanted to take a look at what is currently owed to my company, all I need to do is come over and find that field, and Tableau automatically knows what I want to do. It places the Current field the Current owed on the rows. And if I wanted to break this down by something more meaningful, I can drag and drop a field onto the view. So now I can see all the customer names. And it doesn’t take much to sort and reshape the data so that it’s more legible for me to use. So looks like Central Communications currently owes us the most money. But what about between 0 to 30, 31 to 61, 61 to 90, so forth? I can bring those fields onto the shelf just like I did with Current. And I can view who owes us money in those time periods. So it doesn’t look like anyone owes us money between 0 to 30 or 0 to 90 days. That might be an anomaly. That might be something we need to check out. But for the purpose of the demo, I’m just going to take out these fields. One other thing about these data sources that have been set up for me is that there’s calculations that are useful to use. Below this Past Due right here, I have this Total AR for total accounts receivable. If I right-click and open this up, you can see that this is a calculation already defined for me. Now it’s a simple one where I’m just adding up the different fields. But if you want to get into more technical analysis and forecasting, it might be smart for a power user to set up these fields for an average business user like me. So that way we can control and we can be confident that what they’re analyzing is correct. So if I wanted to see what my total accounts receivable are, I just need to bring it onto the field. And we can always just sort by total accounts receivable.

A piece over here that I haven’t mentioned is our Marks card. This is how you can really customize your charts inside Tableau. For instance, I have my accounts average days to pay field right here, ADTP. If I wanted to color these bars by ADTP, I just need to bring it onto this Marks card in the appropriate place. And now we can color-code which of our customers take the longest time to pay us. Notice that is a sum of ADTP. That’s not correct. We want to see the average. Tableau is incredibly right-click-centric. Just right-click and change the aggregation type to average. Now not much changed, as you would expect, if everything remained linear. But this is the correct analysis. Always thinking about my end user. Right now it’s true. Maybe I am done, and all information is on the field. But it’s important for your end user to always be thinking about them in what might be helpful for them to read this chart faster and cleaner. The reason why I moved it out of green is because 10 percent of men and I think 2 or 3 percent of females are red-green colorblind. So in Tableau we like to use the orange-blue. A lot like Excel, we have our tab to the bottom. And you can rename this to something you’ll remember later.

Let’s take a look at some of those other data sources and see if we have one for accounts payable. Looks like my friends at Encore Business Solutions have published up an accounts payable. So just like before, the accounts receivable, I click on it, and it enters into my usable data sources. One thing I want to point out is if you’ve connected up to a raw Microsoft Dynamics ERP system onto those raw data tables, you know that it doesn’t look this clean. The only reason it looks this clean is because we’re able to edit that metadata before someone like me has to trench through those weeds to get to this information. Therefore, like the accounts receivable, we can check out the current accounts owed. It looks about 4000. I can break that again down by vendor. And if I make a mistake, I can always hit this back button here. I have almost infinite amount of back buttons, which is really helpful for someone like me who makes mistakes constantly. And we can bring out Total Account. We can bring out 91 Days and Over. All the same, flipping these fields around, so that way this read makes more sense.

Now this is great, but one thing I feel like I’m missing is what is the total amount owed? What’s the grand total of my accounts payable? Now that’s a calculation that I need to create. I have this total payable, but it’d be nice if I could do a sum of all of these fields in here. If you’ve worked with a BI tool before, a lot of our calculation engines are a lot alike. I want to rename this to Grand Total AP. And this is just an arithmetic data engine or calculation engine. We use things like sums of the windows. We use things like summations and averages. We have all of our functions to our right. If you’ve worked with SQL, these will look familiar. We have our string functions, our date parsing functions, and type conversion functions to use. And in Tableau 9 we now have the auto fill for our calculations. At the bottom, Tableau says this calculation is valid, and we’ll move on. So I don’t have a great place to put this here on the chart that this will make sense. If I grab Grand Total and put it in here, it kind of seems like everyone owes that much money, but that’s not true. I want to put it somewhere that my end user can see it, but it’s not going to skew the analysis. I’ve put it somewhere called the Tooltip. And this is something you can edit and change. And it’s what pops up when your cursor flows over a mark. So now if my cursor flows over one of these marks, I can see the Grand Total of accounts payable.

Let’s do that for our accounts receivable. And fortunately, we already have one of those calculations created. Now we’ll edit that Tooltip. And you can see even though I know where I’m clicking, it only takes a few clicks to really get these charts formatted correctly.

And the last thing that I think will be nice to check out if I’m looking at my financial climate is the trend of our cash flow. So let’s see if I have a data source for cash flow. I believe this monthly transaction has the fields we need. And in this analysis, I’m going to work with dates. I see that I have a Posting Date here. So let’s put on the board here our Posted Values and our date. Notice that Tableau automatically recognizes the year hierarchy. So when Tableau sees a date field, it automatically does that hierarchy for you. You can drill down in the hierarchy to see YEAR over QUARTER or YEAR over QUARTER over MONTH, take off any of these [pills – 21:12] on the shelves so that you can see YEAR over MONTH, and even change which field they’re on. So now I have years and a spark line of their performance of every year. So looks like April in 2015 is our highest performer, but April in 2017 is one of our lowest, or maybe up here is our highest, January 2014. The date field I want to work with is a continuous WEEK field. You can see that I have my weeks continuously through the time period of my data set and the posted value.

It’ll be nice if we can see the monthly balance, kind of the running total of what’s going on. And it is going steep to the bottom-right. So things aren’t looking up for our cash flow, and they haven’t been for some time now. And at this point, you might consider your analysis done with the cash flow. You can see what each time period is, and you can see the running total. But this isn’t really helpful to our end user. The read isn’t as fast. It’s not as clean. And quite frankly, it’s not as professional. But what we can do is Dual Axis these charts, bring them together, so that they’re over the same timeline but two different axes. We can change the Mark type from Line to Bar and even add in some color, where it might be necessary, to show off the changes. Again, we might have some red-green colorblind folks. Changing colors, this could take me a second. And now I have a slightly more legible cash-flow chart. It looks like our posted values hiding behind these two bars, so I’ll swap it around and maybe change the color of that posted value to being something that is a little bit clearer.

So these are the things that are going to run your internal campaign for yourself or any of the other people who are creating these charts. Sometimes it’s important that you have a number. But when you’re taking a quick glance at what’s going on at a high level, having charts that assist your eyes in the read is important. Let’s rename it as Cash Flow Trend.

And one other chart type that I wanted just to show off is how to do geocoding in Tableau. So if I come to my Accounts Receivable data source, I have these cities here. Tableau automatically recognizes cities down to 10,000. So if I double-click, Tableau automatically geocodes these cities. Now I can choose any of my dimensions to color my Marks types [inaudible – 00:24:18]. So maybe I just want to check out what is currently owed to me on size. Filtering, if I don’t want to see specific countries in here, I just need to tell Tableau what countries I do want to see. So maybe that’s just Canada and USA and make it a little bit easier to see some of these smaller marks. All right, so let’s rename it Map and bring this onto a dashboard. Dashboards are where you bring together a collection of charts. So maybe I want to bring in this map. And I want to bring in my accounts receivable. Tableau is famous for being able to create user interactions or interactions with these dashboards at a click. If I wanted to have my map drive my accounts receivable, I just need to tell Tableau to use this top chart as a filter for the bottom. So now when I click on a map, you can see my accounts receivable change to the mark type that I’m clicking on. Let’s rename this real quick.

And that’s great, but if I’m getting into a meeting and I don’t have time to click on the marks and I want to go from one point to the next point to the next point fast, I should leverage our Story Points feature. Our Story Points feature allows you to basically create a story, or in my words, create an analytical presentation, so Financial Climate of the company. And if you want to say, “Well, this is what our accounts receivable look like. People owe us about 2 million.” So Accounts Receivable, we need to collect about 2 million. I could have another blank point, bring in that Accounts Payable. And say it looks like we have some accounts we need to pay. We have a few accounts that we need to pay ASAP, because maybe 91 days are over is bad for us and we don’t have those contracts that are less than 90 days. And what’s the end result of having to pay these? Well, we can’t because if we bring in our cash-flow trend, you can see our monthly balance down here is absolutely horrific. So monthly balance of cash flow is horrific. So the answer is that we need to collect on these accounts receivable. And rename it as Financial Climate.

Now the next thing that I want to get into is end-user experience. So when I publish up these finding to my Tableau server, what’s it like for the end user to go in there and take a look? So I quickly open up my Tableau server in browser. I’ve just logged in as mlobree. So I am the administrator on this server, but for all intents and purposes, you can consider me the publisher of the data. I’ll come and find the workbook that’s been published. I can see there’s a user-specific view. So there’s no thumbnail right now. And if I click into that landing dashboard, let’s take a look at what our end users will experience. So this should look a lot like what you would expect to see in a dashboard inside of Tableau Desktop. We have our Sales Landing Dashboards, some instructions: For an overview of sales and options to drill into fields. Okay, looks like we have a country selector up here. I can see that I have USA and Canada sales metrics and possibly my locations of customers or city locations. I have there before me. Let’s see if I can click in to see just how Canada is doing. And as I clicked into that, notice that my charts shifted. We’ll click over to U.S. So we have a filter that’s driving all of these different charts. Even interaction as we’re told to do, select a mark to filter the other charts. I can click on any of these different cities and see what product categories are in them, what we sold, and their gross margin percent colored by. And in the bottom-right down here, we have a KPI. It looks like we have a customer warning, negative sales. This might be something I want to look into. I’m not sure why I have -$80,000 in sales for the Science Museum, but it looks like I can select the Mark for more details. So if I select on it, I have a link to go to more details. I can check out what customer location is on my map as well. So it looks like they are in St. Louis, USA. All right, let’s click in and get those customer details. So what effectively happened in Tableau when I clicked that link is it jumped me from one dashboard to another dashboard and filtered that highly-granular dashboard just down to the date I needed. So now I can see who the salesperson is, where their location is, and what items we’ve been selling. So looks like this Acclaimed Call Center is -$70,000 in sales. So that is probably where I’m going to have to take action on and find out what’s going on there. This is what it’s like to log in as the report author or someone who’s allowed to see all the information.

I’m going to log out and log back in as Mike. And Mike is only a regional director. He can only see information inside his region. So again, it says User Specific View. Let’s jump back into that Landing Dashboard and check out how this is different than when it was me. So you can see only Canada is up here at the top. I only have information for Canada down here at the bottom. And only cities inside of Canada are showing up in my customer warnings. All the other dashboards are filtered. So that way, I can only see Canada as this user. This is that end-user control of data governance and who can see what, kind of like the report creator control where they only had access to specific data sources – for example, the ones I connected up to.

So with that, that’s all the content that I had to show off for the day. I know we went kind of fast and didn’t have much time. But I’ll stick around, answer any questions that we may have about Tableau or speak to any parts of the BI solution and how Tableau affects you like to hear.


[00:32:18] Right, thank you, Marc. I’m going to open it to questions if there are any. Otherwise, you can always reach out to your CET representative such as Tracy or Crystal. You can also email us at if you’re looking for a replay of the webinar or someone else to show it to within the organization or if you have any pricing or licensing questions.

Marc, can you just tell us a little bit about Tableau story, about how far you guys go back, and some of the growth that’s happened over the last few years?


[00:32:59] Absolutely. Tableau, a lot like Google, we came from a Stanford research department. We have three founders, two of which are from a computer science department. One, Pat Hanrahan, and the other, Chris Stolte. Pat Hanrahan has a very interesting background as a Graphics Design Animator for Pixar. He worked on films such as Monsters, Inc. and has won numerous, I believe, academy awards for his work in animations. So what happened and how this all came to be was we realized many people did not like interacting with databases, and it was too difficult to get information presented to an end user. It just took too much time. And by the time we got the reports, information had changed. And so what happened was that we combined the information of business intelligence and human-user-computer interactions to create Tableau. We started about 10 years ago. And since after three years of our inception, our revenue has grown almost double every single year. I believe we are hoping to go for about 700 million this year, and all expectations to be a billion-dollar company the following year. So one thing I like to say is if you’re not sold on Tableau, go check out the data ticker because we have been able to convince some other people.


[00:34:48] Good. Well, thanks, Marc. I appreciate your demonstration, especially speaking the language of finance. If there are any more questions, please feel free to reach out to us at And otherwise, thank you, everyone for attending the Encore Tableau Webcast. That concludes our webcast.

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