REVIEWER: Cecil Mardis, technical specialist for Region 4 Education Service Center.

BACKGROUND: Region 4 Education Service Center is the largest of 20 state service districts in the state of Texas. Region 4 provides school districts not only in Texas but across the nation with services and products that support the K-12 education marketplace. Region 4's goal is to bring to customer districts real solutions to real problems in real time.

PLATFORMS: PC - Microsoft Windows.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The Financial Services Administration Department of the Region 4 Education Service Center recognized a need to develop meaningful ways to analyze and visualize state-mandated information submitted by its member districts. The information is contained in ASCII text files that are difficult to use or analyze. Region 4 developed a process to bring multiple years of this data into one cohesive database.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The missing piece in this process was the ability to interact with the data in a meaningful way. Region 4 needed a tool for analysis and reporting. The tool needed to have the power of Microsoft Excel pivot tables, but yet be more flexible and easier to learn. We chose Tableau Professional v2.0.

STRENGTHS: Tableau Professional v2.0 is easy to implement without any IT support, easy to learn and very affordable.

WEAKNESSES: The product has no major weaknesses, but we would like to have a Web-enabled version of Tableau.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Our primary evaluation criteria for the new tool included: it had to be visual, it had to be easy to learn and use by school administrators, and it couldn't require servers or IT support. It also had to be affordable.

DELIVERABLES: Tableau Professional v2.0 delivers reports and visual displays.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Tableau Software supported their product very well after implementation. The best part of working with Tableau has been their desire to share ideas about making our implementation of the product more successful.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is very good.

Tableau Professional v2.0
Tableau Software
400 N. 34th Street
Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 633-3400

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