Automate the Repetitive Stuff to Free Yourself Up to Focus on the Funner, Harder Stuff

This article is by CP Lewis and originally appeared on the Alteryx Engine Works Blog here: https://community.alteryx.com/t5/Engine-Works-Blog/Automate-the-Repetitive-Stuff-to-Free-Yourself-Up-to-Focus-on/ba-p/526300

 

You know how amazing it would be to free up some of your time and look into more advanced topics in Alteryx or look into crazy, off the wall problems? You are not alone! I have wanted to continue looking into this and that in my spare time but for the longest time, I couldn’t. Why you might ask? I didn’t know how to automate my work from end to end and had to continue to manually do things. In comes Alteryx as my superhero to the rescue! Thanks to Alteryx and an Alteryx Server, I can automate my tasks so I can spend some time digging into different problems and try to solve the toughest riddles.

I have three tips that have helped me achieve full automation! Before we get to the tips, I want to define automation. My definition as an analyst is (with the exception of password updates… L) not having to press any buttons or do any work to a process for it to go from raw data to finished product. Dictionary.com defines automation as the technique, method, or system of operating or controlling a process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum.

Now for the big countdown reveal of my 3 tips!!!!

#3 Publish to Tableau Server Tool

Alteryx has some great features, but one of the coolest is being able to publish data right to the Tableau Server, so you do not have to republish your dashboard repeatedly. You can provide your partners with a refresh without lifting a finger!

CristonS_1-1581439400050.png

The setup is simple and just requires a bit of working knowledge of your Tableau Server. The info you will need includes:

  • Username
  • Password
  • Your Tableau Server
  • Project Name
  • Data Source Name (which can be created within the tool or overwritten)

This can save you so much time when you need to deliver numerous reports on daily, weekly, or monthly cadences. Just upload the workflow to your Alteryx Server and schedule it. Then Boom Goes The Dynamite! You fully automated a report!

On to the next tip!

#2 Alteryx Analytic Apps

To accommodate the numerous ad-hoc requests (that tend to follow patterns), I realized Alteryx could truly empower self-service analytics and free up time to allow analysts to add more value to their respective businesses. Insert the best part (in my opinion) about Alteryx and the Alteryx Server: Analytic Apps!

CristonS_2-1581439400098.png

CristonS_3-1581439400106.png

Whoa that is a doozy of a workflow, but dynamically creates a SQL query to pull different levels of data all dependent on a user’s input! This app allows the owner to control a standard query that is adjusted for different filters and different columns returned making all results part of the same whole picture. Never again would someone have to explain, “Well why does this number not match this number in this report over here?” As an analyst, I have had to answer those questions more times than I would like to count.

Alteryx analytic apps simplify life for all end users as well as limit the number of questions analysts receive, freeing up more free time for other things.

The final tip!

#1 Run Command

The Run Command tool has such a broad impact, it is hard to summarize how amazing it is when it comes to complete automation. Many times I have completed a workflow, gotten to the point where I had my data, but all it did was dump to an Excel report (I know what you are thinking; I wish all my reports were Tableau too). I still needed to update pivot tables, save the template as the report with a new date, and finally email it to the recipients. All this was taking away new time for development and running more analytics to impact different businesses.

With a little coding help (thanks Google and coding community for all your help!), I was able to have a simple workflow that:
sends data to a template

  • uses the run command tool (or run command event) to open said template
  • refreshes all pivots and report charts
  • saves it as a new file with the date
  • emails the final result to my business partners

And voila, a fully automated Excel report! The wonders created by a little code and Alteryx are never-ending. Below is the picture of my run command as an event.

CristonS_4-1581439400121.png

The run command tool also allowed the creation of S3 integration with Alteryx. Because of all the automation I was able to achieve, I figured out (through lots of trial and error and the dev space on the community) how to incorporate some of the coding into my own tool!

CristonS_5-1581439400128.png

This ended up expanding into a total of 3 tools, and without automation with Alteryx, it wouldn’t have been possible.