Data is the lifeblood of so many organizations – but it’s also frequently a source of untapped potential. You probably know that with the right tools, your data could be used to streamline processes, cut costs, identify new sources of revenue, generate leads, and improve decision-making. But chances are, it’s currently siloed and unconsolidated, which slows your ability to turn insights into action. Perhaps, like many companies, your data reporting is periodic and performed by a few key people, so most employees don’t have access to the information they need when they need it. Instead of creating value, your data just creates more spreadsheets.

Enter Power BI. More than just a reporting tool, it offers you the ability to integrate a variety of data streams and view them on a single dashboard, in real time. Instead of stale data, you could be giving employees updated information they can immediately use. But achieving ROI isn’t as simple as customizing a set of reports. In order to take full advantage of Power BI’s capabilities, you need to build a data-driven culture. 


The Key to Getting the Most Out of Power BI 

Why start with culture? There’s no point in having an effective tool if you don’t have a strategy for using it effectively. In the case of data, this means planning for how real-time, integrated data will drive decision-making at various levels of the organization. What will it look like when employees are using data insights to enhance their work on a daily basis? How will this change internal processes, day-to-day responsibilities, and long-term planning? 

To move from disparate data streams and untimely reporting to a fully data-driven company, you’ll need to take the following steps: 

  1. Find Out What Data Users Want And Need 
    In an ideal world, what metrics does your business team want to track in real time? What about finance, marketing, operations? What information will help each person perform their job more easily and more successfully? Through Power BI, you can customize user dashboards so that individuals on different teams and at various levels have access to the numbers they need on a daily basis. But in order to create reports, you first need to know what questions each team and team member want the data to answer – and what’s extraneous. You’ll want to meet with a wide range of data users and gain a comprehensive view of who needs to know what.  
  2.  Understand Your Data 
    What data streams do you currently have? Where is your data coming from, what formats is it in, and how would you like to integrate various data streams in order to leverage insights? Chances are, you have data coming in from and stored in a variety of places, scattered pieces of your overall data puzzle. Building a data-driven culture starts with cataloging your data and identifying gaps. What data are you gathering, and what kind of shape is it in? Before it can drive decision-making, your data needs to be accessible and high quality.
  3. Empower Employees with Real-Time Insights  
    Once you know what your teams need and what data you have, it’s time to link it all together. Trained Power BI professionals can integrate your data, weaving disparate data streams into powerful reports that answer the questions your employees are asking. Your employees can then access reports on their personalized dashboards, getting a streamlined, consolidated view of the information they need. These reports can be customized to user preferences, secured to control who can access which data, and enhanced with key metrics and color-coding for at-a-glance awareness of the situation. Your goal is to put the right data into the hands of the right people at the right time, so they can see problems and opportunities as they emerge.
  4. Create Structures for Data Governance and Continual Improvement 
    Getting the data together and in front of your people is the beginning of an ongoing process of continual improvement. Your reporting won’t be able to answer every question from day one, so start with the top priorities. Hold regular meetings with your user community to assess whether they’re getting reports that empower them to make decisions quickly and accurately. Think about staffing for data management: who owns this process? Will you need to create new positions, hire staff, or perhaps build a dedicated data team? You’ll also need to focus on data governance, putting policies in place to clearly define how data should be cleansed, stored, and secured. Careful data management will allow you to get the most value out of your data.

As a data-driven company, you can reduce dependencies and create flexibility across the organization. We’ve worked with teams who used the data we integrated to improve work ticket response times, identify drivers of customer retention, and reduce operational inefficiencies. If you’re excited about the possibilities of Power BI but unsure how to integrate your data streams, reach out today to learn more about unlocking the value in your data.