I first began making data dashboards out of necessity. I found that while many software vendors offered some sort of data visualization within their product, few had the ability to display visualizations on public websites. This is what started me on the journey of creating dashboards, using Tableau Desktop, so that we could tell the story of our organization, Gulf Coast Partnership, to those that didn’t have access to the tools or software that our users had.
At first I used data dumps out of our software, WellSky Community Services, to create data dashboards that were hosted on Tableau Public. While this has been an effective way to create dashboards so far, the tool built into the software to create the data dumps is being retired and I decided it was a good idea to look for alternate ways to draw out the data.
This led me to begin researching using a universal report called the Annual Performance Report. It includes important key indicators for organizations that work to prevent and end homelessness, and is available by software vendors as a standardized zip file as required by HUD for reporting purposes.
However, the zip file that is created contains 66 separate csv files, and the software that I use most often, Tableau Desktop, did not like trying to make visualizations out of all of the necessary data connections created by 66 separate files.
My next step was to create a program that takes all of the csv files and convert them into an easy to process spreadsheet that makes creating dashboards in Tableau Desktop a breeze. Once the dashboard is created, it is published to Tableau Public and made available online to embed in any website that sees fit to use it.
Finally, this brought me to develop the full product that I make available through Gaither Dynamic. Through the use of a web form, organizations can upload their own APR zip file and use it to power a dashboard hosted on Tableau Public that can be embedded in their website for public consumption. The whole process takes about five minutes and the demo is available here.