Most Power BI users are impressed with the possibility to create custom visuals, which sometimes results in very colourful reports/dashboards – and occasionally even leads to documents that teeter on the edge between looking professional or amateurish. Where do you need to draw the line?
What to think of when starting a Power BI project
When setting up a Power BI report, you typically go through the following phases:
- Understanding business needs
- Reviewing your data set
- Importing, combining and shaping data
- Developing measure calculations
- Building reports & dashboards
- Testing, validating & presenting the results to the business audience.
These steps make the process look rather technical – which is what you’d expect from a BI project, isn’t it? However, a project’s success hinges on the first and last items: understanding your business needs and presenting the results to your business audience. They are your customers (even within your own company); they’ll promote your skills towards other audiences and determine your project’s success. Typically, business users (your customers) aren’t interested in the technical aspects of your reports. Accuracy, interesting insights and storytelling are more likely to grab their attention.
Of course, it’s extremely important to put effort into getting the data right. Testing and validation are key phases of the process, even though they usually come at the end of a project. Even when you’re working with a tight deadline, these steps are crucial!
The right insights
BI reports are meant to help run the business, not to show off technical expertise. Do you fully understand the business needs? Are you sure?
How will the report be used? Who will be using the report and which conclusions do they need to draw from it? It’s important to have a good understanding of these elements when designing your reports.
In general, reports should provide information about the state of the business. How?
The best way to do this would be to guide your audience smoothly through the analysis. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to understand how your reports will be used; this will help you create reports that assist the end user in making decisions.
This is where storytelling comes in. Storytelling creates a natural flow of reflection, analysis and deduction. Your reports should guide this process seamlessly by highlighting aspects that matter. Avoid overwhelming styling and formatting; this only distracts the end user from the goal – analysis and decision-making.
A suggestion I often make: have a look at your company’s annual report. Among the massive amount of data, companies usually only highlight the most important items, using minimalistic layout and formatting.
a clean report is often underestimated. Learn more about the visual aspects and interactivity options in Power BI during one of our Power BI trainings. having trouble with reporting? Our Power BI consultants are here for you.