Power BI is an incredible asset for your enterprise, but it comes with lots to do. Managing security, workspaces, licenses, architecture, refresh and more can be a lot on an IT team. We’re here to help with all that!
In a recent Ask Me Anything style webinar, Adam Jorgensen, Brian Knight and Devin Knight not only answer many commonly asked questions you have about maintaining your Power BI ecosystem, they will also give you tips and tricks that they have learned when deploying and managing internal and customer environments.
The following are some of the Q&A from the session. The guys answered some great questions and really dug deep into their tips and tricks, so be sure to watch the complete webinar to learn all that was covered.
Q – What makes a good first department for Power BI when you start developing reports?
A – Often the best adopters will be the finance department mainly because they already know how to build great reports in Excel that most others can’t do. Those people will very easily learn the DAX language and show the most successes.
In second place would be marketing as they want the most data and typically have the most expansion. We engage a lot with marketing departments as they have a lot of data, which makes them a good fit and they are often challenged with their ability to form that data into something that’s really useful.
Where’s the worst place to start? Possibly IT as they may be set in their ways with what they’ve been doing and may not be open to some of the new methods for doing BI. But hopefully in most cases IT is excited for the changes as it will take some light stuff off their plates.
Q – What are the biggest challenges for that first department?
A – Typically the biggest challenge is on the data governance side; determining and setting up a governing order of parts of your Power BI solution.
In many cases, we’ve seen people where it ends up looking a bit like the Wild, Wild, West! Everyone now has connections into the data and all these different Power BI solutions that are connected to the same data sources that should be giving the same answer but aren’t because ten different people developed them. So, that’s a huge challenge.
Q – So, how do we solve this and get customers started with that thought process?
A – It’s important to take some time and plan it out, not just jumping in and getting going with reports. In some cases, IT can help here as they have some background in setting policies for how governance should be applied to their data.
Make a plan; what is our one version of the truth for everyone to find what profit is, for instance, instead of people going to find that in seven different locations.
Also, just because we’re doing this self service and Power BI technology, it does not eliminate the need for having a data warehouse or even an operational data support, maybe a replication of your Salesforce or QuickBooks environment. Get things consolidated so everyone is getting one version of the truth.
Q – What are enterprise level challenges companies have?
A – One challenge is companies that have 1000s of people deployed on Power BI (we had a customer that had 10,000-12,000). That is a huge number of people using a new product and a lot of organizational change; just the user support in that environment is a lot. Plus, add developer support to that.
The reason we put so much content out there about Power BI is because there’s not a lot of different channels for customers to get help and we don’t always want that to have to be a training class or a consulting engagement. We just want to keep educating our customers.
Managing the environment can also be a challenge. Things like being able to back up reports for example. There is great functionality for support for all this (like for GDPR and HIPAA with row level masking and security and such) but we still must help customers implement this and ensure it’s done correctly.
Our Power BI Managed Services help companies manage and monitor their compliance, PII and HIPAA data they have in there and who has access. We help take the chore-side and user support out of the equation so they can focus on the development side.
Q – What is the best way to refresh data in your enterprise?
A – There are methods built into Power BI for managing data refresh. With Power BI Premium, you can refresh up to 48 times a day and with Power BI Pro you can refresh up to 8 times.
Many of our larger organizations are using Direct Query which is a great method for having a more real-time look at the underlying data source. Rather than having to refresh the data periodically, you’re pointing to the underlying data source directly and then Power BI uses more of that data visualization tool than the modeling.
The benefit of Direct Query is you get up to the second data, but it is important to point out that your performance can suffer as you’re relying on the underlying data source performance by having to run individual queries back to that data source. If you have a report that has 5 visuals, those 5 different queries must be sent back to the data source anytime you make a change and per user.
There is the composite model approach which is relatively new where you have a more hybrid approach in your model and streaming data sets is another option where you can pull in data live and add that to data sources you already have.
Q – How do you stay compliant inside of Power BI with things like HIPAA and GDPR?
A – There’s a great site called the Microsoft Trust Center which has all the regulations that Microsoft and various technologies within Microsoft meet, so a good resource to check out.
Some things are common sense:
- Don’t store anything you don’t need to store like PII info that you don’t need and without it in there, it will make your compliance issue go away.
- Row level security is very important. Being able to easily prove who can/cannot see those things can make your compliance process much more straightforward.
Q – Where do you think Data Flows fit into the enterprise story?
A – Data Flows is the idea of being able to do Power Query in the cloud but not necessarily have this whole model around it. We are seeing a lot of interest in this. It is still in Preview but long term, it will be a great way to be able to execute queries without having a whole data model and reports around it but be able to execute them in the cloud and still produce results.
We tell people that if something is in Preview in Power BI, play around with it. Power BI on the backend watches who is using it and looks at the reviews and if they think it’s ready, they get it live and available as quickly as possible.
These questions and answers are only the tip of the iceberg in this jam packed, one-hour webinar. Also discussed are: best practices for managing data source or using any enterprise gateway, deploying apps vs. using workspaces, when it’s best to start taking advantage of Power BI Premium vs. Pro and Power BI Embedded.
To get all the insight into deploying Power BI in your enterprise, watch the complete webinar here. Another challenge is keeping up with Power BI’s constant changes, be sure to check out our Power BI Monthly Digest where we break down all the newest features and updates.
As we mentioned, keeping up with your Power BI reports and dashboards can be overwhelming. With our Power BI Managed Services, you can use our training and expert services for everything from report design to administration.
Click the link below or contact us to learn more about how you can achieve your data-driven potential using Power BI without the management hassle.