Is Power BI really working for you?

Is Power BI really working for you?

They say Power BI is easy to use and you can create effective, powerful dashboards in a few hours. But is Power BI really working for you?

Is it really that easy?  If that was the case, why do so many companies give up on their Business Dashboard strategies?

If you are not 100% sure what Power BI is, read this article

The answer is simple.  They either hit a technical hurdle they can’t solve or they build a series of dashboards that just don’t add any value.  The first problem is easy to fix.  The second takes a little more time.

Let’s look at some of the main complaints we hear and what you can do to solve them:

My dashboards take way too long to load

This has to be the most common complaint about Power BI.  The thing is, it’s not Power BI, it’s you.  Power BI can be lightning fast.  I mean super fast.  We’ve built several dashboards that connect to millions of rows of data and can load within seconds.  The problem isn’t Power BI, it’s the way you’ve asked Power BI to ingest the data.

Slow loading dashboards are a symptom of one of these main issues:

  • Too many joins and data blends
  • Badly constructed SQL script (if you are using custom SQL)
  • Using the wrong data connector

You can connect Power BI to hundreds of different data sources and you can get data into Power BI in a multitude of ways but we won’t explore each individually.  What you need to do is experiment with the options Power BI has so that you find the most efficient way to load data.

I can’t create the graph I need

Power BI comes with a whole bunch of graphs ready for you to drag and drop your data onto.  There may be a rare occasion when you need to use a chart that they don’t have and that’s when you’ll get stuck.  Trust me when I tell you that you are not the first person to have this challenge and you won’t be the last.

Power BI is incredibly flexible and it is very likely that you can create the graph you need with the tools at hand.  If not, then check out the massive library of community created plugins of even more graphs:

Power BI Custom Visuals

My data is not in the right structure

Very true, very true.  Data engineering has to be one of the more difficult parts of creating a dashboard in Power BI.  It really does pay off when you invest the time in getting your data in the right shape.  If you don’t then you’re probably reading this and nodding your head.

Power comes with a great ETL tool that has all you need to twist, splice and mould your data into the perfect shape.

HOWEVER, you should be warned this part of Power BI is far from easy to use.  Yes, there are some fantastic drag and drop functions but to get deep into the real strengths of Power BI needs some deep knowledge in DAX and Power Query.

My dashboards are always out of date

“I want real-time dashboards,” they said.

But seriously, what is real-time?  To me, real-time is relative to the data source.

If you are presenting traffic data or people movement in a building then real-time would mean the data was updated by the second.  If you are presenting financial data alongside timesheet data then the most real-time you could get would be weekly at best.

You see, real-time is only as good as the reliability of the data behind it.  If your accounts are not signed off until the end of the month then you can only present reliable data once every month.

If a dashboard is considered out of date then consider the cadence of the underlying data and how frequently you can take a reliable snapshot or data feed from it.

No one looks at them

There is nothing more depressing than checking out the stats of a dashboard you spent hours creating to find that no one has looked at it for over a month.

This is an easy problem to solve and you don’t even need Power BI.  Hunt down each and every one of the people you built this for and ask them why they don’t look at it.  Be prepared for the worst and take every bit of feedback on board.  Whatever reasons you are thrown, incorporate them into version 2.0.

When you’ve nearly completed version 2.0, go back to these guys again and give them a sneak peek preview of what’s to come.  Ask them if they’d use this one and try and get them to have a play.  The aim is to engage your stakeholders before you publish and take them on the ride with you.

If they don’t look at version 2.0 then dig deeper as to the reasons why.  If you discover they really don’t need it then at least you know it was them and not you.