A Q&A with Data Visionary Michelle Grames, Director of CRM Systems, American Lung Association

What was the impetus for you to start building your own data visualizations for ALA?

Well, we had been using Excel for most of our custom reporting needs. Data had to be pulled into spreadsheets then summarized using pivot tables and charts.
I’m excited about Tableau because it gives me the ability to create dynamic visualizations and dashboards that tell a story about a particular strategic initiative or campaign.  This makes it easier for your leadership teams to digest the data and really understand what you are showing them.  And once they’re built, they will be automatically refreshed, so you don’t have to manage any manual downloads.

How was the training?

I was able to take the self-paced Tableau training course online.  It was actually pretty straightforward and gave me a good primer to jump in and tackle some visualizations myself.  ROI was there to help me when I got stuck or to suggest ways to organize the data.  Also, the brainstorming sessions we did with ROI as a group really helped me think about different ways of looking at the data.

What is the first dashboard that you created?

ALA’s fundraising program is managed at the regional level, so I wanted to take a dive into some donor counts by region for some of our high touch named giving societies.  It is a good comparative analysis between the success of those programs by region.

What’s your next steps?

In the short term, I plan to further develop my Tableau skills and tackle a few more visualizations in Q1 2017.