Frequently Asked Questions

Connect to VPN

You must be connected to the GW VPN (Virtual Private Network) to access all data reporting systems (except GW Power BI). If you are not familiar with using VPN at GW, please refer to the download and setup instructions provided by GW IT.

SAML Authentication Errors

If you receive a SAML authentication error when attempting to access Tableau or ThoughtSpot, your connection may have timed out.

The error looks like this:

Example of a SAML error


Proceed with the following steps to resolve.

  1. Go to GW MyApps
  2. Click on your initials or picture in the top right corner and choose Profile.
  3. On the profile page, find and click the link to Sign Out Everywhere
  4. Restart your browser and attempt to access Tableau or ThoughtSpot.

Dashboard & Report Access

Access to specific dashboards and reports is granted based on a user's role at the University. If you are unable to access a specific dashboard or report intended for your role, access may not yet have been granted. In this case, please get in touch to request access.

Check Status.gwu provides an easy-to-read overview of the current availability of GW IT services and any scheduled maintenance events. You will find "Business Intelligence Services" under Administration and Services. Check here to see if there is an issue with any of our reporting tools.  Members of GW Community have the option to subscribe and receive service status notifications via email, text or MS Teams.


The Data Warehouse is refreshed nightly and all of our reporting tools reflect data as of the close of business for the previous day. Here's an example of  the data refresh process:



What is today's date (example)?


When was the Data Warehouse refreshed?

7/1/2021 between 12am and 3am

The data in the Data Warehouse is as of...?

Close of business 6/30/2021

What "Refresh Date" will GW Insight (Tableau),  GW Power BI, GW Analysis (ThoughtSpot) and Data Marts display?

7/01/2021 between 12am and 3am

*Exceptions may occur, subscribe to GW Status to receive email alerts about data refresh disruptions and scheduled maintenance.

Submit a ticket to Business Intelligence Services when you are experiencing an issue or need assistance or answers about how to access or use existing BI products, such as:

  • Inability to access BIS platforms - check status.gwu to see if there's a university wide issue
  • Dashboard or report not functioning properly
  • To propose an entirely new dashboard, report or project, or when you are requesting additional data elements or features to be added to an existing BI product
  • For non-Business Intelligence Services issues, please visit GW IT Support

Submit Ticket

Typically, we have found the following to be the recommended browsers for each reporting tool. However, you may need to experiment with what works best for your system.

Microsoft Edge image

Chrome image

Firefox image

Microsoft Edge

Data Mart / Cognos


GW Insight / Tableau


GW Insight / Tableau

Steps to enable Internet Explorer (IE) Mode in Microsoft Edge.

GW Analysis / ThoughtSpot     

GW Analysis / ThoughtSpot

GW Power BI

GW Power BI

GW Power BI

When you plan to download data from any GW Insight/Tableau dashboard, you will need to choose between two formats: 


CSV Format

 Use CSV (.csv) file format (preferred method) when:

  • You need every column and every row of data for your analysis.
  • The formatting and layout (e.g., predefine groups) are not important.

Note: CSV files can be opened and saved in Excel. Since merged cells are eliminated by the CSV format, you can easily filter and manipulate the data columns. Read more about CSV format.

Excel Format

Use Excel (.xls or .xlsx) format on all other occasions:

  • To keep the GW Dashboard data grouping or predefine layout.
  • To present data as is or you plan to add charts and visualizations, or any Excel functions


GW BI currently maintains four reporting tools. All three can be accessed online (VPN connection required ).


Migration Notes

(1) ThoughtSpot is currently  available but will be decommissioned in 2023.  GW BI is in the process of migrating all ThoughtSpot reporting functions to either Tableau or Power BI. Reports that have not yet been migrated remain available in ThoughtSpot.

(2) While Cognos is currently still available, GW BI is in the process of migrating all Cognos reporting functions to either Tableau or  Power BI. Reports that have not yet been migrated remain available in Cognos. If a report you used in Cognos has been decommissioned you will see a message directing you to the replacement in either Tableau or  Power BI.

Microsoft Edge is now the recommended browser for Data Mart / Cognos (

On June 15, 2022, Internet Explorer is no longer available. It is necessary to download Microsoft Edge to access Data Mart / Cognos after this date.

Please follow these steps to enable Internet Explorer (IE) Mode in Microsoft Edge.

If you continue to have issues, please submit a ticket to Business Intelligence Services.

Business Intelligence  Services' Content Catalog!

The Content Catalog provides a way to find reports, dashboards, and worksheets across the university's data domains. You will also find the link to our Data Governance Center for the associated business terms. This catalog is refreshed daily as updates and additions are put into Collibra. 

See the catalog's glossary of terms.

The BI product strategy seeks to serve the majority of user data needs through professionally designed, certified dashboards delivered with Tableau, and the remaining needs with the detailed and build-your-own capabilities of Power BI. Keep this "80/20" guideline in mind when seeking resources for your work, and generally start by seeking to identify the appropriate Tableau dashboard for your use.

You can refer also to the Content Catalog for information such as description, location and business glossary for available reports and dashboards.

Our training webpage outlines webinars and training resources for users to become familiar with BI's products and platforms.


The GW Data Governance Center (DGC), often dubbed Collibra in reference to the underlying software platform, serves as the single source of truth for all GW data governance and stewardship activities, and is where business definitions and data assets are catalogued, defined, and governed.

Dashboards and reports created by the BI team are certified in collaboration with the Data Governance team and relevant Data Stewards, and documented within the DGC to ensure all reports and dashboards are consistent, trusted, and high-quality.

We have synced the Content Catalog with the DGC entry for a report, dashboard,and worksheet. You will find a description, glossary of the business terms included along with their definitions, and a link to the asset itself. On certified assets in Tableau and  Power BI, you will find a link to the relevant DGC entry.

Use the filters at the top of the dashboard to generate or update the summary table.

Tableau filters gifClick on any column, row, or cell in the summary table to generate secondary filters and the detail table (e.g., student level information).

Tableau summary gifSecondary filters display additional aggregate information. Click on one or more cells to further filter the detail table. Use CTRL + click to select more than one cell from a single filter.

Tableau secondary filters gifAfter making all of your selections you can save your view, so it will be available upon next login without having to reapply all filters and selections.

Tableau save view gifYou can subscribe to your view to receive email updates at a regular interval. The email will include an image with a link back to the dashboard. NOTE: Only use schedules labeled *SITE USERS*.

Tableau subscribeUse the Share option to make your saved view available to others.

Tableau share gif

A custom view is a saved version of a Tableau dashboard with your selections and filters applied. You can create several views of one dashboard. You can also set one of the views as a default for each time you open the dashboard and make your view visible to others. 

Step 1: Open the dashboard and apply the filters for your view

Screenshot filtering dashboard to create a custom view


Step 2: Select "View" in the top menu bar, name your view, select checkbox options and save


Screenshot of how to create and name a custom view


Step 3: Your view is now available in the top menu bar

Screenshot of completed custom view


Step 4: Manage your view(s) by selecting the "View" menu option

Screenshot showing how to manage your custom view

For more information about custom views, go to


Click on Pinboards in the top menu, then choose "Certified" from the sticker dropdown to find pinboards that have been published by BI and certified by DGC.

Thoughtspot pinboard sticker gifUse the filters at the top of the pinboard to narrow the displayed data.

ThoughtSpot filters gifSave a copy of the pinboard for future use to retain your filter selections.

ThoughtSpot copy pinboard gifOnce saved, you can find your copy of the pinboard from the "Yours" option in the pinboard menu. NOTE: Be sure you've removed the "Certified" sticker if it is still selected. Click the star icon next to the pinboard name to mark it as a favorite; favorites will display on your home screen at login for quicker access.

ThoughtSpot copy favorite gifUse the share option to make your copy of a pinboard viewable to others.

ThoughtSpot share gifUse the Manage Schedules option to receive emails of either a PDF of the pinboard or a CSV of data in the pinboard. NOTE: If you want to include others on the schedule you must first share the pinboard with them.

ThoughtSpot schedule email gifYou can also make copies of individual answers on a pinboard, such as the data detail table.

ThoughtSpot copy answer gifAfter copying the answer you can edit the table by adding or removing fields.

ThoughtSpot add remove fields gifAfter making changes, save your answer. It will now appear under "Yours" in the Answer menu.

ThoughtSpot answer navigation gif


Data from any table in the dashboard can be downloaded. To ensure you download the desired table (usually the detail table at the bottom of the dashboard), click on a column or cell in the table before clicking the Download button from the menu at the top. This will ensure the selected table is the default in the download menu. NOTE: Data can be downloaded as XLSX or CSV; they have different formatting in the output so you may wish to download both and see which meets your needs. See answer above, "What's the difference between Excel and CSV" for specific details.

Tableau download gif


Power BI

To download data as an XLSX, on the "Detail" page, click on the ellipsis (three dots) on the top right corner of the table you wish to download.

Arrow pointing to the location of the ellipses for exporting data






Select 'export data' from the dropdown.  

Arrow shown pointing to the selection of export data in the dropdown

The Excel file will automatically download and open.


To download data as an XLSX or CSV, click on the  ellipsis (three dots) on the table you wish to download (not the ellipsis for an entire pinboard). If you do not see XLSX or CSV options you are probably in the pinboard menu.

ThoughtSpot download gif

Download the Table

In a Tableau dashboard not all fields are displayed in the detail table, but additional columns are available once you download the table. See tutorial above on "how to download".

Submit a Request

If after downloading there are still columns not present that would be helpful in answering your questions you can submit a ticket. There is no guarantee that the columns will be added.