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Bring Your PPM Data to Life with Microsoft Power BI

Projects like most things generate a lot of data, however we’re not talking about the Snapchat kind of data – apparently 527,760 photos are shared by users every minute! We’re referring to the type of data that could be critical to projects success and save you budget overruns, delays and other types of embarrassment.

The Current State of Reporting

According to The State of Project Management Survey 2018; 55% of participants did not have access to real time project KPIs, and almost 50% spent 1 or more days manually collating project reports.

As Phillip Schofield has been demonstrating through his ‘So Schofield’ webuyanycar.com adverts, you should “Value Your Time”! We agree with Phillip, and in the context of PPM reporting we’d state that the time would be better spent on analysis rather than manually collating and stitching together the data.

Watermelon Reporting

Often, where we see data that has been stitched together, perhaps with little governance and a pinch of subjectivity we encounter ‘Watermelon Reporting’; whereby the RAG indicators are set to a nice shade of greed, however slice in and “ah it’s red”.

In most cases, it (the project) should have been reported red some time ago, providing enough notice to put in to place the required corrective actions to bring it back on track. Unfortunately, however some (not all) Project Managers suffer from Chromophobia with an aversion to the colour red.

Of course, in the right corporate culture, Project Managers would know that ‘red’ is nothing to be afraid of and that highlighting a project as ‘red’ simply demonstrates a responsible approach and a higher level of PPM maturity.

Achieving Transparency with Power BI

In another article we provided general tips on increasing PMO Transparency; but the focus of this article is on increasing transparency through Microsoft Power BI to leverage the data that is being generated through Microsoft Project Online. This data could be related to various artefacts including but not limited to the schedule(s), resource management and RAID logs.

What is Power BI?

We often refer to Power BI as being Excel on steroids from a reporting perspective, however the formal description states, “Power BI is a business analytics service that delivers insights to enable fast, informed decisions” and that it’s enables you to “Collaborate on and share customised dashboards and interactive reports”.

It’s available in Office 365 with both Pro and Premium variants being available (there is a desktop client too), and if your organisation has already embraced Office 365, the chances are that you might already have access to Power BI.

The great news if you have Microsoft Project Online and Power BI is that Microsoft provide a standard out of the box content pack that provides an array of reports and dashboards to get you started on your objective, automated, streamlined and improved PPM reporting journey.

Power BI is Evolving

Power BI was unveiled by Microsoft in September 2013 as Power BI for Office 365, and since then has continuously evolved and in February 2019, Gartner confirmed Microsoft as Leader in the “2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platform” as result of the capabilities of Power BI platform!

Some of the most exciting new features have included the introduction of personal bookmarks in the Power BI service and the ability to set a time-based e-mail subscription schedule for your reports and dashboards in Power BI.

Personal Bookmarks in Power BI

Historically, within Power BI you’d navigate to a particular dashboard and set the appropriate filters to get the desired view(s), however when you navigated away and revisited the report again, you’d have go through the same process again, a bit like Groundhog Day.

With the introduction of personal bookmarks, you can now create your own set of bookmarks for each report by capturing various states of a report page (including filters, slicers, and state of visuals), name them, and later return to each state with just a single click! Aside from this, you can also set any bookmark that you create as the default view, so you can land on your preferred view of the report every time you open it.

Time-Based E-Mail Subscription in Power BI

Those of you that are familiar with SQL Server Reporting Services may have missed having a subscription capability within Power BI. It became one of the most requested features and is now available! You now have the ability to set a time-based subscription schedule for your reports and dashboards in Power BI to get them delivered directly to your inbox.

The Future is Yellow

As an Enterprise BI platform, it is evolving rapidly with the goal of providing users with an experience like they have today in SQL Server Reporting Services, irrespective of which report type they’re using.

Additional new features such paginated reports (a common request) are being introduced into Power BI Premium in the near future.

Keep up to date by following the Microsoft Power BI blog.

 

By Baz Khinda, Director & Senior Microsoft PPM Consultant, Wellingtone

Next Steps

If you would like to discuss how Microsoft Project Online & Power BI could benefit you and your organisation, contact us to speak with an expert today.

 

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