Power BI – Tips for a successful rollout

The Power BI toolset from Microsoft is changing the game in the data visualisation space. With major monthly releases building on the functionality and rapidly incorporating new features, combined with its competitive pricing we are seeing many clients dipping their toes into the world of Power BI.

Altis surveyed some of our Power BI users to collect feedback on their experience of rolling out the tool and to share some of the lessons they learnt along the way.


Make sure “In the Cloud” is considered

Not everyone is aware that PowerBI is a fully Cloud based solution. While PowerBI Desktop offers local development, the final published reports and dashboards are pushed into the cloud on the powerbi.microsoft.com website.  This means ensuring you engage with the right people in your organisation for architecture, data security and infrastructure in advance so that everyone comes on the journey. Validate your security requirements early on and continue to validate regularly with key users after the initial roll out.

Microsoft are working on an on-premise version which according to their roadmap will first be an enhancement to Datazen.


Be aware that visualisation tools may be completely new to some users

The competitive pricing of Power BI Pro opens it up to a larger potential audience than compared to traditional business intelligence tools. Self-service may be completely new and users may not be familiar with some of the underlying data modelling concepts. We recommend setting up a Power BI user group and use creative ways to encourage people to join and participate. For example, have a “report of the month” competition; promote knowledge sharing to bring everyone up to the same level of understanding and make it easy to access current documentation and FAQs. https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/support/  

There are differences between the Free and Pro versions which is worth becoming familiar with so as not to be limited down the line.


Governance continues to be important in the self-service world

As people can build their own reporting on a mix of data sources, you may have varying degrees of trust around the different reports being published. A great suggestion from one client is to put in place a folder structure that attaches a level of trust or confidence against reports and dashboards. For example:

  • Gold – Built on trusted data sources with reporting that has been system and UAT tested and approved

  • Silver – Reporting is on trusted sources and individual users have tested, but it hasn’t gone through the full testing and approval cycle

  • Bronze – Reports are built on sources that are not yet validated and approved

Have a central approval team and have clear instructions that document the approval process. Leverage the Power BI user group to contact users with “silver” of “bronze” reports and encourage them to move their reports through the cycle.


Communicate and have a process around managing the monthly Power BI updates

Microsoft have a very good blog that lists all the new features and updates being released at https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/, as well as a forum for suggesting ideas on how Power BI can be improved. Our experience is that Microsoft are being very responsive to client feedback and some of our clients who have posted ideas have now seen this new functionality released and they are able to leverage it in their dashboards.

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