Power Tools: Desktop has been a critical tool for success in each of my consulting engagements. I always make a point to introduce the suite of tools with every client. But I want to share a recent example when Power Tools: Desktop was exceptionally helpful.
Best Performance in a Workbook
Not too long ago, I was helping a client optimize their dashboard performance, security and PDF scripting. As I began to look into their performance metrics, things weren’t looking too great across the board. That’s when I introduced them to the Performance Analyzer tool and it narrowed down exactly what was taking place in their workbooks. Typically in my process, I’ll use the Performance Analyzer tool to find issues that are occurring and then use Best Practice Analysis Tool to diagnose where in the workbooks I need to focus and make changes.
The Best Practice Analyzer got the biggest reaction from the client when I showed them the final analysis. They had hundreds of calculated fields, LODs, floating objects and more. They were amazed to see such a comprehensive view of what elements were affecting performance. It’s great to be able to take suspicions like this and put an absolute metric next to them to describe exactly why something is non-performant. Next, they took the time to address the key issues listed in the Best Practice Analysis.
My favorite part of this process is the perspective I gain. I like knowing what types of issues are causing the biggest performance hits. Once I know where the problems are, I can start asking the most important question: why? Why are these issues happening and what decisions can I make to turn the project around?
These types of questions, combined with the insight provided by the Best Practice Analyzer, enables me to make a large number of workbook changes with significant performance gains as a result. After making these changes, the client went back and ran the Performance Analyzer again to confirm the loading times had been resolved.
Time for the Audit
I’m also a fan of using Data Source Discovery early in my consulting engagements. It helps me quickly understand what is included in the data sources and where key relationships are taking place. More importantly, it allows a broad overview of how the data is constructed and where key relationships exist. As a consultant, it enables me to quickly highlight where nulls or other confusing outliers exist in the data before we even begin dashboarding. This gives the client a chance to go back to the beginning and fix their data, instead of way down the line. It ultimately saves everyone time!
Above: The Data Source Audit screen in Power Tools: Desktop
The Power Tools process isn’t over just yet. At the end of this specific engagement, I used Data Source Audit. The audit report can display a snapshot of what data sources are being utilized at any point in time. I’m able to present the report in Tableau, as an Excel file or as a PDF, depending on what people prefer. But it doesn’t take long to produce three different formats because the Data Source Audit tool is just that awesome.
People typically opt for an Excel file, because it’s easier to filter the fields and see comparisons. I’ve seen audits be completed in under 20 minutes and this included 700 calculated fields! An audit of this size should take hours. With the Data Source Audit it can be done in a matter of minutes. I’ve worked with clients who ended up realizing they could use a single shared data source on a server, all because of the audit report.
What’s Your Style?
The other tool in the Power Tools: Desktop application that I’ve seen make a veritable impact with clients is Style Management. I can work with 50 workbooks and change their fonts and colors all in 30 minutes. Without Style Management, this would be 20 days of work.
There is a lot to check out in Power Tools: Desktop. Each tool can save you time on a project here and there, but the time saving is massive when you start adding up all the different ways you can use these tools to your advantage. Get in touch with the Power Tools team to start your free trial! I can safely say you won’t regret it.