Business Forecasting with Tableau Write-Back
The importance of forecasting
It is common to hear a company’s management speak about forecasts. Every decision, each process the company engages in, tends to be based on some prediction to support it. The growing importance of business forecasting is obvious specially in times of change and uncertainty:
- can also estimate their financial requirements, so they guarantee an efficient use of resources;
- helps teams to achieve a more effective control, by becoming aware of their weaknesses and implementing future measures;
- Allowing to establish scenarios for starting a new business or create the demand for a proposed product or service;
There are several different methods by which a business forecast can be made: some are quantitative, based on highly statistical methods, others are based on the opinion or judgement of experts, trying to make qualitative predictions from some know information.
Quantitative forecasting is about hard numbers and historical data: these methods try to remove the human element out of the analysis, concerning only with the data. On the other hand, qualitative forecasting has less to do with numerical analysis, and more with experience and expertise. This type of forecasting relies upon the knowledge of people to provide insight into future outcomes. For example, the historical trend in sales may indicate that sales will increase again in the next year, which would normally be measured using quantitative analysis; however, an industry expert may point out that there will be a materials shortage that will force sales downward.
Why Tableau Write-back?
When using Tableau to show business KPIs or any other metrics, it’s only useful that the team responsible for the forecasting can input the predicted data in the already built visualizations, especially if that data comes from qualitative analysis, done by people in real time.
Write-back allows users to add new data to a visualization, with the advantage that the information is persisted in a database. The person responsible for the forecast can easily create new fields associated with the metrics subject to analysis and input new data about them, whether it’s a predicted sales or profit value, or maybe the business economic growth.
Imagine the following scenario, where a business team responsible for forecast needs to predict, for each country, the sum of sales for the next year. With Write-back, they can link the forecasted value to a country, also adding valuable information as a possible comment on it, or a certain predefined status – for example, if the forecast was approved or not. The data added is then stored in the database, and all members of the team can have access to it, maybe even edit it if needed.
Another great advantage of using Write-back is that all the changes in the database are kept in record: every insert of new data, edit or deletion is stored in a table created for the effect, along with the member of the team responsible for it. This way, it’s easy to track the history of the analysis and the history by user. Also, the fact that the data is on your database it means you can easily combine it with quantitative forecasting techniques or even data science.
Forecasting can provide essential data to any business, no matter the industry. With Tableau Write-Back, bringing teams together and providing better access and exchange of information between them becomes easier. This way, the teams responsible for forecasting are able to provide more reliable data, leading to a better decision making in every aspect of the business.