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Your Power BI FAQS, answered by a Microsoft Gold Partner

by Sirius People

We asked a Microsoft Gold Partner in Data and Analytics your most frequently asked questions about Power BI, including what to do with data, stakeholder buy-in, quick wins and dashboard readability. Sirius People, 2019 ©
Estimated Reading Time: minutes

One of the many ways our Consultants are embedded in their specialised communities is through events.

A prime example of this is our very own Business Intelligence and Data Analytics Senior Recruitment Consultant, Donna Bowen, who sponsors the Power BI Meet-up in Melbourne.

Her event co-host, Greg Nash, is at the heart of this growing community in Melbourne and is able to offer a wealth of information to anyone who attends the meet-up, as well as to our clients and candidates.

 

Who is Greg Nash?

Greg is a Principal at Dear Watson Consulting, a Microsoft Gold Partner in Data and Analytics. He is also your friendly neighbourhood Power BI User Group leader and self-appointed “Power BI Unicorn.”

Greg has been using Power BI since day dot as a full-time consultant in the Power BI space since release. He has built a myriad of Power BI solutions across a wide variety of customers and he provides mentoring for leaders and content creators under his new “Dashboard Doctor” service. 

He also regularly trains new users via “Dashboard in a Day” and “Power BI Essentials” training, which you can also find on meetup.

 

Donna found she was being asked the same questions by clients and candidates so she put them to Greg to answer.

Here’s some of the knowledge Greg was able to share with us:

 

DONNA

How do I get buy-in from non-technical stakeholders?

 

GREG

Stakeholder management is always tough. Different stakeholders will have different pieces of the pie in a reporting project. So, when presenting to stakeholders, you must “set the scene” by building up the context around why you’re doing this. Typically, I present this context in three ways:

  1. People — What is causing the demand for the report? What are people doing now? What behaviours are we hoping to drive with our reporting solutions
  2. Technology — This technology has changed so much in the past four years and to remain competitive, organisations need to adapt. Reporting is easier than ever, as Power BI is part of the incredible Microsoft Power Platform in Office 365. Complimentary tools like Power Apps, Microsoft Flow, Microsoft Azure, Azure Security, and Advanced Analytics are all at our disposal if we adopt this platform, which makes it a peerless ecosystem.
  3. Financial — The cost of Power BI is a pretty easy sell, but the financial impact of the analytics content you build could have massive flow-on benefits to your organisation. Quantifying the cost/benefit of the solution is massive when dealing with the CFO and others with a financial interest.

 

DONNA

I know I need to do something with my data, but what?

 

GREG

This is a common problem. Ultimately the mantra, “What gets measured gets managed” is in effect. You need to think about the overall vision, strategy and behaviours that you are trying to drive with your reporting. All too often, I see a tendency toward “Vanity Metrics,” where customers maintain a myriad of reports with no direct value just because “that’s what we do.”

My approach is always to try and link any report tile to an action or set of actions that happen as a direct consequence of the information in the report or tile. For example, if our strategy is to “increase our consulting hours,” then a tile that shows “total consulting hours” is useful. 

But what is the action you take when you get this report? What are the thresholds? When do we celebrate and when do we chastise for underperforming?

A tile with “total hours VS target hours” complimented by the “number of days left in the period” and “total hours required per day to meet the target” will give your users an immediate understanding of the current state and what they need to do to resolve the issue.

 

DONNA

What are the quick wins I can have to get buy-in from the business?

 

GREG

Power BI is the ultimate tool for quick wins in the right hands. Our ability to bypass all the pain of slow development processes and then rapidly model and deliver prototype analytics is incredibly powerful. It gives the users something to look at and provide feedback in minimal time. It’s also easy to iterate and improve upon when they change their mind (as they always do). In terms of ROI, Power BI usually pays for itself in the first few days.

 

DONNA

How do I make a dashboard easy to read?

 

GREG

The principals of clarity are well documented and authors like Eduard Tufte and Stephen Few go into great detail on this subject. 

My quick tips are: 

  • Reduce noise and confusion, fewer tiles are better; 
  • Use Colour, Size, and Contrast to show information of relevance. For instance, a low contrast title and larger data labels will make a significant difference to data clarity; and
  • Remove irrelevant text, objects, labels and anything that draws the eye away from the data. 

Applying some simple rules can be transformative and doesn’t require an “artistic eye!” Anyone can learn it. 

 

Special thanks to Greg Nash for answering some of our clients’ and candidates’ top questions on Power BI.

You are able to connect with Greg on LinkedIn or Twitter (@Nashtastic) to stay up to date with the Power BI world in Melbourne.

 

To join us at our next Power BI Meet-Up, check out event dates here.

 

2020 11 17

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