Tamsen Haught - Nov 16, 2015

Organizing Your Tableau Server

Compared to the many critical decisions made over the course of an analytics engagement, the organization of the Tableau Server environment may seem trivial.  In fact, this is a relatively small task that can have a big impact .  It can always be updated later, but thinking about project organization and role permissions from the beginning can reduce barriers to adoption and ultimately improve results.

Questions to consider

  1. Will some of your visualizations contain highly sensitive information, with access restricted to certain staff?
  2. Will some staff be allowed to create visualizations on the fly?
  3. Will multiple audiences be using Tableau?

If the answer to any of these is yes, it will affect the way you plan your project and role structure.



The best dashboards and visualizations will have limited value if it's difficult for staff to find them.  Projects allow you to classify and group your dashboards together on Tableau Server so they're easy to find, and more likely to be consistently used.  Think of them as file folders on a shared drive.  Projects can be organized by any criteria, but in most cases associations choose to create projects to correspond to departments or functional business areas (Events, Membership, Marketing, etc.).



Permissions can be set at the site, project, dashboard, or workbook level. For example, you may have a strategic project which only the Executive team can see.  You can set permissions for the entire project accordingly.  You can also restrict selected dashboard in a project.  All staff can see the project but the restricted dashboards can only be viewed by authorized team members.

Many associations have designated analysts or power users who are able to create visualizations on the fly.  Tableau Server provides web edit abilities that allow them to create visualizations within Tableau Server, rather than requiring a Tableau Desktop license.  Tableau Server has some limits on functionality for creating visualizations compared to Desktop but is sufficient for most staff.

Permissions for Tableau are set-up through users and groups.  Each person at your association should have a separate login.


  • Users can be set-up to use either Active Directory authentication or local authentication (this decision is made when Tableau Server is first installed.)
  • Users must be assigned one site role from below:
    • Server Administrator
    • Site Administrator
    • Publishers (power users who create dashboards will fall into this group)
    • Interactor (most users will fall in this group)
    • Viewer
    • Unlicensed
    • Viewer (can publish)
    • Unlicensed (can publish)


Groups makes it easier for you to set permissions for your site.  Rather than controlling permissions on an individual basis, you can assign individuals to a group and then grant permissions on the group-level to different projects.  Organizing groups is similar to organizing Projects -- they are usually set based on roles or departments within your association or by interactivity levels within Tableau.  For example, your groups might be Executive, Manager (Business Area), Subject Matter Expert, Staff.

Spending time upfront thinking through these questions, will make your implementation a smoother process.


Written by Tamsen Haught