In today’s World, where data is being produced at unprecedented levels, organisations are seeking efficient tools to manage and process their data. Tools such as Tableau and Kafka are among those that are popular, however, this blog will discuss Alteryx. Alteryx is a powerful data analytics and workflow automation software designed for a data analyst, data logger, and other business professionals who need to process and analyse large amounts of data. It provides a user-friendly graphical interface that allows users to easily build complex workflows by dragging and dropping tools onto a canvas, connecting them together, and configuring their settings.
Sample Alteryx Workflow
Alteryx offers a wide range of tools for data preparation, blending, cleaning, analysis, visualisation, and data automation. These tools allow users to integrate data from multiple sources, transform data into a format that can be analysed, perform statistical and predictive analyses, and create reports and visualisations.
One of the critical features of Alteryx is its ability to handle big data. Alteryx does its best work when processing large volumes of complex data quickly and efficiently. Alteryx also has built-in tools for working with spatial data, making it an ideal solution for GIS analysts and other professionals who work with geographic information.
Another important feature of Alteryx is its ability to automate workflows. Alteryx allows users to schedule workflows to run at specific times or in response to certain events using Alteryx Gallery. This feature makes it easy to build automated workflows that minimises the risk of manual errors. Furthermore, reduces manual report running, allowing for analysts to spend time on other tasks. With many clients I work with; automation is a key focus, as this is a great way to save employees time running reports everyday.
Best use cases for Alteryx are for large or complex datasets that require manual report functions. As Alteryx often is best suited to process fast reports with those criteria.
Some Tips and Tricks to help you get started with Alteryx:
Understand the Workflow Canvas
The workflow canvas is where you’ll build your Alteryx workflows. Each workflow consists of a series of tools that perform specific tasks. You can drag and drop tools onto the canvas and connect them to create a workflow. The canvas is designed to be intuitive and easy to use, but it’s important to take some time to familiarise yourself with it before you start building your workflows. Often it is a good idea to map out the workflow in a process design tool such as Visio to ensure you can map which tool to use at which point in the workflow canvas.
Using Tool Containers to Organise Workflows
Tool containers are a great way to organise your workflow and make it more readable. You can group related tools into a container and then collapse the container to save space on the canvas. To create a container, simply select the tools you want to group together and right-click to access the context menu. It also allows you to toggle on/off certain sections of the workflow to assist debugging issues, this is often used in the testing phase.
Alteryx Tool Containers
Using Data Profiling Tools to understand Data
Before you start processing your data, it’s important to understand what you’re working with. Alteryx has several data profiling tools that can help you analyse your data and identify any issues. For example, the Browse tool allows you to view your data in a table format, while the Summarise tool can give you an overview of the statistical properties of your data. This is a great way to look through large amounts of data in a summarised manner prior to build.
Taking Advantage of Community Resources
Alteryx has a large and active user community, and there are plenty of resources available to help you learn the software. Having a common tool means there are many users that have had the same issues in the past with resolutions to use in your own workflow. With new problems everyday, it is important to keep learning from the community; I definitely use these online resources to keep up to date with new app updates and reporting solutions.
Using Macros to Automate Repetitive Tasks
If you find yourself performing the same tasks over and over again, you can use Alteryx macros to automate them. This is the tool I use most often, with a large number of excel files required for reporting, this allows for repeated tasks performed on each sheet automatically and joins all relevant data. A macro is a custom tool that you create by grouping a series of tools together. Once you’ve created a macro, you can reuse it in multiple workflows. Macros are particularly useful for tasks that involve complex or repetitive operations. Best use cases for macros is if you have to repeat the same task multiple times on different data, for example, a folder with 10 excel worksheets that all require the same process to summarise the data. These are simple to build and integrate into a workflow, making the workflow shorter and much more efficient.
As you create workflows, it’s important to document them so that you and others can understand how they work. Alteryx makes it easy to document your workflows by providing a variety of annotation tools. For example, you can use the Comment tool to add notes to your workflow, or the Container tool to add a title and description to a group of tools. Nowadays documentation is a key focus in businesses, this allows for us to keep processes running and make required tweaks to reporting even when the report owner or creator are no longer with the business.
In conclusion, Alteryx is a powerful and user-friendly software that allows data analysts and other business professionals to quickly and easily process and analyse large amounts of data. Its wide range of tools, ability to handle big data, and automation features make it a popular choice for businesses of all sizes.
If you’d like to read more about data analytical tools, why not check out our blog post on data modelling and data warehousing!
Skillfield is a Australian based Cyber Security and Data Services Consultancy and Professional Services Company. Skillfield provides managed IT Services in Melbourne, implementing solutions that help our customers discover, protect, and optimise big data in a way that works for them.