Microsoft Power BI: Pros & Cons

Microsoft Power BI: Pros & Cons

What is Microsoft Power BI?
Microsoft Power BI (Power BI) is a reporting tool to visualize data. In other words, it uses one or more data sources (e.g. ERP system, Excel, etc.) to create charts. Power BI is a part of Microsoft Power Platform.

Below is a brief overview of pros and cons of Power BI to help companies make an informed decision about their next BI (business intelligence) solution.

Pros of Power BI
Power BI has a lot of advantages and below are some of them:

  1. Data visualisation – outputs data in the form of one of the available chart types (e.g. pie, line, area, etc.) which makes working with the data more efficient, facilitating thus decision making.
  2. Bidirectional connectivity – connects seamlessly with other Power Platform products (Power Apps, Power Automate, Power Virtual Agents), Dynamics 365 (e.g. D365BC, D365F, D365SCM, etc.) and other software to consume data from these sources and to feed data to them. At the same time Power BI can be embedded in other software (e.g a Power BI report can be appear right on the home page of D365BC without any development required).
  3. Multiple data sources – can combine data from multiple sources (e.g. an ERP system + an Excel file) to output a coherent report.
  4. Mobile friendly – allows running reports on desktops, laptops and mobile devices, including tablets and phones.
  5. Financial, operational and mixed reports – is able to output basic financial reports (e.g. a trial balance), operational (e.g. cost quantities and amounts per job/project, resources, etc.) and mixed reports (e.g. revenue, time and costs per project per time period, etc.).

The next section discusses some of the cons associated with using Power BI.

Cons of Power BI
Here are some considerations in connection with using Power BI:

  1. Training – training requirement. If a company prefers to have in-house Power BI specialists, it should be prepared to spend time on their training, especially to create new reports (running existing reports is fairly easy when they are set up properly).
  2. Licenses – additional licenses (and, therefore, costs) are likely to be required to be able to use Power BI.
  3. Maintenance – as with other software, it should be serviced regularly to keep it up-to-date and fully operational (e.g. working properly with new software and working stably with old software after an upgrade).
  4. No custom logic – that is, it only works based on the existing data and will not generate or correct data (e.g. depending on how a report is set up, it may still be taking into consideration a posted sales invoice even if a corrective credit memo has been issued).
  5. External specialists – if a company chooses to hire an external specialist (rather than training its own Power BI specialists), it may be a challenge to find local specialists who have experience in the given industry. It may also be costly to work with an external specialist.

Bottom Line
Power BI is a reporting tool to visualize data. It can feed off multiple data sources and combine with other Power Platform programs. It can help increase business efficiency and effectiveness by providing managers (in finance, operations, marketing, etc.) with the information to make necessary decisions timely. At the same time, as other software, it requires time and money to be set up and maintained.

If you have questions about Power BI and your ERP system, contact us and one of our consultants is going to be happy to assist.