Exploring Tableau : KPI Indicator

What is KPI?

KPI stands for key performance indicator, a quantifiable measure of performance over time for a specific objective. KPIs provide targets for teams to shoot for, milestones to gauge progress, and insights that help people across the organization make better decisions.

We are going to build a simple KPI Dashboard and use Unicode characters as the KPI Text Indicator.

We will start by loading the following data into Tableau Desktop/Tableau Public.

Data Source - Sample Superstore

Data Source used is Sample — Superstore.xls from My Tableau Repository\Datasources folder which will be available on your computer as part of the Tableau Public installation.


Data Visualizations - Unicode and Calculated Fields

We will use Unicode in our text for showing KPI.

What is a Unicode character?

Unicode is an international character encoding standard that includes different languages, scripts, and symbols. Each letter, digit, or symbol has its own unique Unicode value. Unicode is an extension of ASCII that allows many more characters to be represented.

You can very easily format KPIs in Tableau, to look like any one of the examples below, without creating any calculated fields.

You simply need to right-click a field, choose Default Properties >  Number Format > Custom, and enter your custom format into the window.

You can keep adding zeros for more decimal places. You can also replace the up/down arrows with different symbols, or even whole words like “Profit” and “Loss”.

For currency, simply add a currency symbol after the plus and minus e.g. “+$”#,###  ▲;”-$”#,### ▼;.

Next, we will create the calculated fields to find out the Sales Growth between the years 2014-2015.

ZN((SUM([Sales 2015])-SUM([Sales 2014]))/SUM([Sales 2014]))

There will be categories to track the sales growth -

Sales Growth Positive, Sales Growth Negative, and Sales Growth No Change.

IF [Sales Growth 2014-2015] > 0 THEN
    STR(ROUND([Sales Growth 2014-2015]*100,1))+"% ⯅"
IF [Sales Growth 2014-2015] < 0 THEN
    STR(ROUND([Sales Growth 2014-2015]*100,1))+"% ⯆"
IF [Sales Growth 2014-2015] = 0 THEN
    "0.0% ⯈"


We will now build our worksheet:

Change the Mark Type to Text

Drag State onto the Rows Shelf

Drag the following onto the Text Mark:


Sales 2015

Sales Growth 2014-2015

Sales Growth Positive

Sales Growth Negative

Sales Growth No Change

You should see the following:

Now we will edit the text, click on the Text Mark and Change change the text to the following (including colors):

At any given time, only one of the growth rates will show, and with a little formatting, filtering, and adding versions of this sheet to a dashboard, you can end up with the following:

Thank you for reading, I hope this was helpful!

Happy KPI'ing!

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