Dylan Cruz/December 01, 2022 /Power Platform/Power BI/ 6 min read

5 ideas and recommendations to create dashboards with Power BI

Keep this entry for future references

Dashboard creation has been gaining importance in business direction and strategic decision-making since data collection is easier to retrieve. Microsoft Power Platform’s Power BI is one of the biggest apps related to business intelligence. It allows you to connect to multiple sources, create attractive and interactive dashboards, and share them across multiple users. The best part is that all your data will be connected in real time without requiring strange and difficult connections.

Building a dashboard in Power BI: The basics you should know beforehand

Before getting into the dashboards building, there are a few things that you must learn to ensure user engagement and information retention:

  • Objective: Why are you trying to display in your dashboard, and how would it help your company’s internal processes? Having a clear objective will ensure attacking focal points of the need. Also, it will help you identify the information you will show in the dashboard and how the audience will use it.
  • Data: You need to be sure which data source you will be connecting to. This is important to avoid unnecessary columns and fields that may occupy space inside your dashboard.
  • Visual and layout: Once you determine your objective and where you are getting the data from, you’ll have to decide how your dashboard will look, how many charts you want to include, and what value it will give to the audience that will see it.

How to create a dashboard from a report?

Before creating Power BI dashboards, you must download the Power BI Desktop app, which you will find on the Microsoft page. After downloading it, you can start building without any problem.

There are multiple data sources that you can connect, which will lead to creating a report. You must know that the visualization comes from reports in the dashboards, and each report is based on a dataset. Think of a dashboard as a way to underlying reports and datasets.

Connecting dashboards to data sources is as simple as opening the app and selecting the “Get data” button. Then, you should look up the data you want to connect to:

Create Power BI Dashboard from Excel

Excel remains one of the most used spreadsheet apps, and as a part of Office 365, connecting it to other Microsoft Apps is essential. Luckily, Power BI has multiple ways to bring data from Excel, and the first one is by searching the connector exactly as explained in the first point.

However, when you first open the Power BI app, you’ll find a button that allows you to select reports created in Excel, and there’s even a button called “Excel Spreadsheet” next to the “Get Data” button. All these options are practically the same.

Create a Power BI dashboard from the SharePoint list

SharePoint lists are an excellent option to store data and share it with multiple users, and Power BI can be connected to it through different options. You must select the “Get Data” option and then search “SharePoint” in the pop-up window.

You may find three different options:

  1. SharePoint Folder: This will bring up all the available folders inside of a SharePoint Site; it’s useful if you need to have information from multiple folders at the same time.
  2. SharePoint Online List:  This connector is only used if you want to connect to an Online SharePoint List.
  3. SharePoint List: The principal difference from the last connector is that the SharePoint List allows you to connect to an online or on-premises list; both are used widely.

After selecting one of those options, you’ll need to put the URL of the SharePoint that you want to connect to:

Create Power BI Dashboard from SQL server

SQL Server is one of the most useful connectors inside of Power BI, mostly because you can connect to different apps through it, even if they have not a specific connector inside of Power BI. Using it is as simple as selecting the “SQL Server” button next to the Excel button. After clicking on it, it’ll open a pop-up window:

It is important to have the Server and the Database to which you will connect to. For example, if you want to connect to a Dynamics CRM App, you will have to input something like this: myorgname.crm.dynamics.com,5558. The ports 5558 and 1433 are always open as endpoints to Power BI.

You can also select the Data Connectivity mode, which can be:

  1. Import: A snap of the actual data inside of the server, you will be able to modify the spreadsheets without affecting the original database.
  2. DirectQuery: With a real-time connection to the database, you’ll be unable to modify the data. However, you can still create new columns.

Don’t forget to use SQL Statements to simplify the quantity of data that you’ll import.

How to customize a Dashboard in Power BI?

Customizing dashboards in Power BI is very simple. You’ll need to have any type of visual inside the page (charts or reports) and select which one you want to edit. After selecting it, you’ll be able to set which filters you want to be applied to that visual, which columns it will include, and which order they will have.

Also, you can edit the visual format by clicking on the upside button, which will allow you to edit the columns’ colors, values, sizes, and totals. You can even customize cell colors by condition!

How do I create an interactive dashboard in Power BI?

Power BI has an interactive platform from the first time you start using it, with numerous new capabilities for Power Platform. For example, if you click a row inside a report, it will automatically filter all the visuals inside the page depending on the row you selected.

However, there are more creative ways to make interactive dashboards, such as including buttons, sliders, or filters; it is up to your imagination. Power BI also allows you to import customized visuals that can be used to create more interactive dashboards.

Ideas to create dashboards in Power BI

Following the last section, some ideas that you might have while creating dashboards are:

  • Consider the audience which will be using the dashboard.
  • Try to select the important columns from the datasets and avoid bringing too much information simultaneously.
  • Place the important information in reports and visuals.
  • Use pie charts or bar charts to display numeric values.
  • Try to use your business colors, not wallpapers that might distract your audience.

As said before, Power BI has great capabilities; the only limit is your creativity. Brand new visuals even allow you to create an aquarium that displays data through fish!

How can Power Platform and Power BI help you create great dashboards?

It is important to know that Power BI is part of the Power Platform. The Power Platform is a complete suite of apps based on the same database: the Dataverse. The best part is that you can use them all above as they’re in the same ecosystem. For example, you can automatize a flow that sends an email when a field inside Power BI gets to a specific value, bring all your data from Dynamics 365 apps (such as Supply Chain Management, Marketing, Human Resources, and more), or embed dashboards inside Power Pages. Building automatizations and connections across the Power Platform allows you to create powerful dashboards that can be useful while seeking important data.

To sum up, Power BI is an easy app to learn, use and apply. One of the industry leaders, with a solid performance and wide coverage of connections to search for data, working across multiple apps and making decisions a lot easier. Don’t hesitate to use these apps and render the processes inside your business.

Thank you.

Power BI dashboards vs. reports: Are they really different? 2

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Dylan Cruz

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