Business Forecasting with Tableau Write-Back

 In Blog, Use Cases

The importance of forecasting

It is common to hear a company’s management speak about forecasts. Every decision and every process the company engages in, tend to be based on some prediction to support them. The growing importance of business forecasting is obvious specially in times of change and uncertainty:

  • Companies can estimate their financial requirements, so they guarantee an efficient use of their budgets resources;
  • Teams can achieve more effective control, by becoming aware of their weaknesses and implementing measures for the future.

There are various methods using which a business forecast can be made: some are quantitative and based on highly statistical methodology, while others are based on the opinions or judgement of experts, trying to make qualitative predictions from known information.

Quantitative forecasting is about hard numbers and historical data: these methods try to remove the human element from the analysis, looking just at 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 your people’s knowledge to provide insights 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 when the team responsible for the forecasting can input the predicted data into the pre-designed 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 preserved 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 on them, whether that is a predicted sales or profit value, or maybe the business’s economic growth.

Imagine the following scenario: a business team responsible for forecasting needs to predict, for each country, the expected sales for the following 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, whether the forecast was approved or not. The data added is then stored in the database, and all members of the team can access it, or even edit it if needed.

Another great advantage of using Write-Back is that all the changes in the database are kept on record:

every new data insertion, edition or deletion is stored in a table created for the purpose, along with the team member responsible for it. This way, it’s easy to keep track of its history by the 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.

Summary

Forecasting can provide essential data to any business, no matter the industry. With 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 better decision making in every aspect of the business.

5 min