How to analyze your outlook email with Tableau?

So, if you are like me, you must wonder how much email do you get everyday and if you are able to keep up with it.

For me, I am getting to the point that I feel that others shouldn’t expect that I will respond to every single email. In fact, if something is urgent, I think I have come to expect that I will be called.

Regardless, I do get a lot of email at my work, so I thought of doing some analysis of the data.

This article will describe how you can analyze your outlook email with Tableau

Now, I started thinking about the best way to do this would be obviously hook Tableau directly with Outlook, but that’ wont work.

Tableau doesn’t quite understand the Outlook Object Model and quite frankly not a lot of apps do, but there is one that does and it works well with Tableau

MS Access to the rescue

Microsoft access can read directly from your folders and give you a lot of the information you have within outlook. Here’s how you get started

  • Open MS Access
  • Create a new blank database
  • Go to Menu -> External Data -> More -> Outlook Folder
  • Go through the wizard to import the data to Access
  • Open Access DB and Tableau and analyze away

Here are some snapshots to guide you through the import process

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Step 1

 

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Step 1 (Alternate)
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Step 2
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Step 3
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Step 4
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Step 5

Now, this is just a start

Once you have this, there is so much more you can, but since I have tried a few things, let me save you some trouble

  • Access does allow live queries to Outlook but I continue to have issues with this approach, something on lines on no MAPI driver available
    • This is an issue on a lot of forums
    • It seems like Access is able to show the data in the Linked Table but when Access database is called within Tableau, Access crashes
    • There is a way around this by creating a live query to Outlook rather than a linked Tableau, however, that approach also doesn’t work since certain queries don’t show up in Tableau and my approach required a Union query
  • Access allows great ways to add new data
    • I have created composite keys on my tables that are a combination of “Message Size”, “Subject” and “Created Date”
    • With the composite key, I can add new data from Outlook into the existing table and the keys will ensure I don’t have duplicates
    • I have semi-automated this process using a simple macro builder that imports data from various folders and sub-folders from Outlook into a single folder in Access
  • Access also allows you to import data from folders such as “Calendars” which is great for more analysis
    • however, the schema of the “Calendar” and “Inbox” are exactly the same
    • This means, that you don’t get fields such as start time and end time for calendar entries
    • If you want to do that analysis, you might have to export the data from Outlook using Outlook export feature

If you need any additional help with this or need to use my Outlook Access DB template with macros and such, please let me know and I shall be happy to send those over

 

Have fun