Tableau Upgrade Planning and Process Checklist

The goal of upgrade planning is to establish a proactive approach to move to the next version of Tableau. With inputs from executive sponsors and the cross-functional project team, this holistic approach goes beyond the technical software upgrade plan by including the communications, education, and support plans needed to successfully execute the upgrade. Complete the Upgrade Planning Checklist tab of the Tableau Blueprint Planner, review the Upgrades topic, and customize the Upgrade Process Checklist tab of the Tableau Blueprint Planner for your requirements.

Early decision points to discuss among the project team are upgrade frequency, version selection, and version compatibility. These will serve as guiding principles for maintaining the environment. By defining the upgrade approach early on, the project team will be able to explain when and how upgrades are performed and better manage users' expectations, rather than reacting to the business demands for new features and functionality.

  • How often will upgrades occur? Determine the number of Tableau Server upgrades that will occur per year and consider acceptable downtime windows that do not interfere with month-, quarter-, or year-end closing activities and/or blackout periods. For Tableau Online, upgrades are performed by Tableau with advance notice, but your administrators will need to update client software to take advantage of new features and functionality.
  • How will the upgrade version be selected? It is important to fully understand how Tableau is being used to ensure the appropriate version is selected so that it fulfills new business requirements and complies with IT policies. Tableau Online is upgraded to latest release by Tableau.
  • How will the new version impact existing solutions? Evaluate compatibility with existing software versions and custom solutions, such as customized API development for embedded analytics and automation for both Tableau Server and Tableau Online.

Software Upgrade Plan

The software upgrade plan is probably what immediately comes to mind when someone thinks about upgrades. It defines the step-by-step procedure to go to the next Tableau software version. The plan should be developed by the IT resources on the project team, using the Upgrade Process Checklist tab of the Tableau Blueprint Planner as the baseline. The Upgrade Process Checklist should be customized for your requirements, including the upgrade test plans by selecting top dashboards and data sources to evaluate after the test and production environment upgrades. A rollback plan should also be prepared in case problems are encountered.

For Tableau Server, this work will be performed by the Systems Administrator and Tableau Server Administrator roles, who will upgrade the server environments beginning with the test environment. Once validated in the test environment, they will schedule the production environment upgrade and the disaster recovery environment, if applicable. The Resource Monitoring Tool master server and agents should also be upgraded.

The Desktop Administrator and Mobile Administrator roles will be responsible for packaging and updating Tableau Desktop, Tableau Prep Builder, and Tableau Mobile, which apply to both Tableau Server and Tableau Online deployments. Review and upgrade other applications based on your installations, such as tabcmd, Tableau Bridge for Tableau Online, and the Content Migration Tool.

Additional input from the Enterprise Architect, Database Administrator, Security Administrator, and Network Administrator roles may be needed if changes are required in the corresponding area of expertise. The following questions should be used for planning:

  • What IT roles will be involved in the upgrade?

  • Do you have a single production instance of Tableau or multiple production instances of Tableau to be upgraded?

  • Do you have a test environment setup that matches the production environment specs and configuration?

  • Will your configuration be changing to support high-availability? If it is already HA, are all processes redundant?

  • Do you have a disaster recovery environment setup?

  • Are backups taken daily and stored outside of the production Tableau Server?

  • Are you changing to role-based licensing?

  • What are the current and new Tableau Server/Tableau Online and Tableau Desktop versions?

  • What are the current and new Tableau Prep Builder versions?

  • What are the current and new Tableau Mobile versions?

  • What are the current and new Resource Monitoring Tool versions?

  • What are the current and new tabcmd, Tableau Bridge, or Content Migration Tool versions, if installed on individual computers?

  • Are there any programmatic dependencies that will be impacted by the upgrade? (embedded analytics, portal development, automation with APIs)

  • Will additional capacity be needed to support new workloads between this upgrade and the next upgrade? (extract refreshes, flow execution, subscriptions)

  • Will additional capacity be needed to support the estimated number of new users between this upgrade and the next upgrade?

  • Are there any planned platform changes to the completed after the upgrade? (OS, hypervisor, hardware, or cloud provider)

  • What is the rollback plan in case there are issues with the upgrade?

Communication Plan

As you design the communications plan, consider your business goals for the upgrade and how users will be notified in advance of the pending upgrade and after its completion on your Tableau Enablement Intranet. Add the upgrade timeline to your newsletter, and use department Site Administrators or team champions to relay information. In Tableau Server, use a custom sign-in message and site welcome banner for communicating with your users. For more information, see Customize Your Server. Tableau Online users will see a message that indicates the maintenance window for the update after sign-in, which you should reinforce with internal communications. The following questions should be used for planning:

  • What are the business goals for the upgrade?

  • What new features or functionality will be available in the new version?

  • How will users be notified of the pending upgrade?

  • How will users be notified after the upgrade is completed?

  • How will users install new client and mobile software? (silent, self-service, manual)

Education Plan

The education plan will enable your users to understand new features and utilize the new version of Tableau to its full potential. Update your Tableau Enablement Intranet content with Tableau-hosted resources, such as What's New topics by product in Tableau Help documentation, the latest release notes, free training videos, and launch events.

Augment Tableau-provided resources with training content organization-specific resources that explain how new features will be implemented, including example use cases, and schedule a user group meeting focused on the new functionality. The following questions should be used for planning:

  • How are users educated on new features or functionality?

  • What Tableau-provided resources will be added to the enablement intranet?

  • What company-specific resources need to be created?

  • Will Lunch & Learn sessions or on-demand videos be created?

Support Plan

The support plan should define additional resources needed to handle initial demand for post-upgrade support, triage, and the escalation path. Update the Tableau Enablement Intranet content. The following questions should be used for planning:

  • What self-service help resources are available?

  • What incident categories exist for post-upgrade support?

  • How are support requests triaged?

  • What is the escalation path for post-upgrade incidents?

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