How to Cut Data Preparation Time for Visualization Tools

by | Apr 23, 2018 | Business Analytics, Business Intelligence (BI), Data Analysis, General BI and Data Management

Data Visualization tools have democratized data exploration and analytics, giving business users a way to access and utilize data without depending on the IT department. Self-service BI tools like Tableau, Qlik, PowerBI, etc. are remarkable data visualization tools that enable users to create ad-hoc dashboards that are beautiful and data-driven.

In a study by TDWI in 2016, they found that most companies spend up to 61% – 80% of their time preparing data, as compared to time spent analyzing the data.

Data preparation for large companies is a project that requires the specialization of the IT department, and usage of other technology to facilitate the data preparation. Consequently, this creates dependence on the IT department in terms of accessibility, availability, and flexibility.

To compensate, business users turn to spreadsheets as a quick solution – they export data from systems, manipulate it, and upload it as a data source for their dashboards. This spreadsheet process for data preparation, however risky, is very common. Spreadsheet-based data preparation is labor and time intensive and risks turning into a complex spreadsheet problem.

Let’s take a moment to shine a light on the processes involved in building the visual foundation.

What is really involved in creating a data visualization?

Many data visualization vendors are aware of the need to include these processes in their software. Some provide the capability to connect to data sources, prepare data, automate aggregations and computations at a certain level of complexity that can respond to basic to moderate needs of medium scale enterprises.

However, end-user Data Visualization tools reach their limitations when larger organizations demand more for analytics. Enterprises that have multiple systems to run their business – accounting, HRIS, ERP, CRM, etc., need to consolidate data to have a complete view of their business, make complex calculations, and integrate planning and forecasting data for future analysis.

Streamlining Data Preparation

When improving the data preparation process, organizations need to take people and tools into consideration.

While anything related to systems and data falls under the IT department’s area of responsibility, it is important to have key business users take part in the data preparation process. Business users understand the meaning behind the data and the purpose of the reports and visualizations. They also have first-hand experience with the existing reporting process and will know the areas that needs to be improved — how and where spreadsheets and other end-user tools are being used. Knowing this helps IT build data models that truly respond to the end-users needs and determine areas that need additional control and governance.

As a best practice, organizations should not ignore spreadsheet data use and preparation as they develop an overall strategy. They should evaluate technologies that could either reduce the need to rely on spreadsheets for data preparation or improve data preparation involving spreadsheets.

–  David Stodder, senior director of research for business intelligence, Transforming Data With Intelligence

PARIS Technologies provide solutions and services for preparing data to be consumed by Data Visualization tools and other reporting or end-user tools. We deliver dynamic data models that are efficient and reusable, wherein multiple users have the flexibility to create ad-hoc reports through 3rd party end-user tools. 

Our technology gives users the capability they need to facilitate data preparation and modeling — dynamic connection to multiple data sources, consolidation, data mapping and relationship setting, data normalization, automation, aggregations and formula-based computations. Our tight integration with Excel allows users to input future data directly into the data models from their spreadsheets, allowing  budgets, plans, and forecasts to be included in the data visualizations. Additionally, data models built by PARIS can be viewed in Excel with dynamic connectivity (not an export), allowing business users to view and analyze their data in their familiar spreadsheet interface.


See it in action

Already using Tableau, Qlik, or other Data Visualization tools? Get in touch with us now to see a demo of how PARIS can leverage on your existing investments by giving life to your data. Leave us your info on or send us an email at

Curious about PowerExcel Personal?

PowerExcel Personal is a great way to get hands-on with a PARIS product.  You’ll get the most benefit from using it if you connect with us while you try it, so make sure to schedule your free call without support team and get properly installed today!