Microsoft’s Power BI was recently recognized as a Magic Quadrant Leader in analytics and business intelligence platforms. One reason Power BI enjoys and maintains this coveted position is due to its ease of integration within any company, regardless of team size. Let’s take a look at the four most common implementation scenarios, implementation tools, and our recommendations and best practices. In a broad sense, Power BI implementation scenarios are:
- Personal or self-service BI
- Small team
- Large team
Personal BI with Power BI
Also known as self-service BI, Personal BI is aptly named, as this is the use case where you don the multiple hats of a data modeler, report author, and content consumer. This scenario requires Power BI desktop, a Power BI data gateway (if connecting to on-premises sources), and a Power BI license (free or paid). While a pro license (paid license) is not needed as you will not share the content, we recommend provisioning a single Power BI Pro license as there are features within Power BI Service that require a Pro license.
Small team usage with Power BI
When it’s time to collaborate with colleagues, the small team usage scenario is the way to go. This is sometimes thought of as a “bottom-up” approach where the subject matter experts in the functional business units drive their team’s analytical initiatives.
Large team usage with Power BI
As the team grows large, it becomes impractical to effectively use a workspace for all report sharing (as shown in the previous small team collaboration scenario). The best way to manage larger team-based scenarios is via the usage of a workspace for collaboration and a separate app for distributing the content to a larger group of people, as shown in this diagram:
Enterprise-wide usage with Power BI
Massive enterprise BI implementations often employ a “top-down” approach because it is common for the Power BI content to be primarily created and maintained by a centralized IT/BI team. Enterprise-level reporting scenarios commonly have a significantly larger number of read-only users who consume content compared with the much smaller number of authors who create content to publish for others. A common way to cost-effectively support organizational/enterprise-wide reporting is via the use of Power BI Premium:
Recommended tools for Power BI implementation
Now that we have seen all the four ways one can implement and integrate Power BI in their day-to-day work, let us briefly look at the various components and tools that will be needed to implement these solutions:
Power BI Desktop: This is a free tool for authoring reports. Using OneDrive for Business is preferred as the .pbix file is accessible easily and ensures that there is version history associated during the development phase.
Power BI Service with Power BI Pro License: Power BI service offers flexibility and various functionality for collaboration and distribution purposes. A Pro license is required by all content creators and consumers (unless the workspace is assigned a dedicated Premium Capacity).
Workspace: A Power BI workspace serves as a container in the Power BI service for storing content such as datasets, reports, dashboards, workbooks, and dataflows. The workspace is considered the collaboration area.
App: An app could optionally be used to deliver read-only content to users (the preferred scenario for large teams) but is not required for small teams that do not want the additional deployment and security management of an app.
On-Premises Data Gateway in standard mode: For refreshing datasets in the Power BI Service, a data gateway must access data sources in the corporate network or cloud sources within a virtual network or firewall. The use of a centralized data gateway in standard (enterprise) mode is strongly recommended over gateways in the personal mode for team/group scenarios.
In standard mode, the data gateway supports Live Connection and DirectQuery operations in addition to scheduled data refresh operations.
Power BI mobile application: Reporting ‘on the go’ via mobile apps is available for the reports and dashboards in the Power BI service. Teams that use the mobile app and the Power BI service for consuming content tend to have a better experience with Power BI.
Tips to put it all together
Finally, we would like to share some of our best practices and recommendations:
- Use OneDrive for Business for ease of access and maintaining version history of the .pbix file.
- Use On-Premises Data Gateway Standard (Enterprise) Mode.
- Centralize datasets to reduce the number of redundant datasets.
- Utilize ‘analyze in Excel’ to slice, dice, and pivot data during the data validation phase.
- Depending on the number of end users, use Premium Capacity as consuming the content with dedicated capacity does not require additional Pro license purchases.
- Use workspaces plus apps for effective sharing among colleagues and distribution among end-users.
Implementing Power BI solutions is what we do best and do it with a passion! Inviso excels at analyzing your data’s current state and providing a tailored solution to meet your needs and requirements. Get in touch to discuss your Power BI projects today! Getting Started with Power BI: 1-Day Assessment – Microsoft AppSource.