The easiest way to do small-multiples in Power BI!

Recently, there was a post on the Power BI blog about how to do How to do multivariate reporting with Power BI or what you may know as “Small-Multiples.” Small-multiples allow you tell a big story via a chorus of little stories, that would otherwise be obscured by the large number of plotted points. There are many uses of this technique in the data visualization literature. If you are unfamiliar with small-multiples, please read this article as a primer.

In October 2016, Microsoft Research released the Infographics Designer custom visual for Power BI. Much of the attention was focused on how you can use graphics to create custom charts. However, buried in all of this was the ability to create small-multiples easily, using the Infographics Designer.

The Infographics Designer allows for four types of small-multiple visualizations.

  • Cards
  • Columns
  • Bars
  • Lines

In the video below, I’ll demonstrate to you how to use the Infographics Designer to create multiple types of small multiples.

If you have comments or questions, please post them below!

In Data We Trust? Part Two

Part 2 of this series explores the difficulty in determining whether your business intelligence content is using authentic data. To illustrate the point, let’s examine a recent Seattle Times article about the Measles outbreak happening in Washington.

An Example

The article in question, “Are measles a risk at your kid’s school? Explore vaccination-exemption data with our new tool,” presents a story filled with data charts and tables and made some conclusions about the situation. Many internal reports and dashboards do the same, presenting data and conclusions. Unlike internal reports, newspapers list the source and assumptions in small print at the end of the story. Knowing the data comes from an official source adds authenticity.

The following note is supposed to increase authenticity.

“Note: Schools with fewer than 10 students were excluded. Schools that hadn’t reported their vaccination data to the Department of Health were also excluded.

Source: Washington Department of Health (2017-18)”

But does it really? Documenting any exclusions and note sources is a good practice. However, it’s not very prominent and if you search for this data, you’ll likely find several links. There’s no link or contact information.

Data authenticity is crucial to making successful decisions. In order to do so, key data questions should be answered.

What data was used?

Many content creators don’t bother to document the source of their information. Many would not have the same level of confidence about the new financial dashboard if the viewer knew the data came from a manually manipulated spreadsheet, instead of directly from the finance system. How would the reader know anyway? In many cases, they wouldn’t. The Seattle Times provided a hint, but more is needed.

When you buy items like wine, you know what you are buying because the label spells it out. A wine bottle is required to have a label with standard data elements to ensure we know what we are buying. For example, a US wine label must have the type of grape used to make the wine.  Even red blends must list the varietal and percentage so that the customer is clear on what is in the bottle. Having the equivalent type of labeling would improve transparency about data authenticity.

Who owns the data we are consuming?

This is very important, especially if we spot incorrect or missing data. Who do we contact? The Seattle Times lists the Washington Department of Health as the data owner. This is a good starting point but doesn’t completely fill the need. For internal reports, all data sources should include an owning team name and a contact email. The data vintage example below also includes the site urls and a contact email.

Data Vintage Example

How old is the data?

It’s one thing to know when’s the last time the data was pulled from the source but that’s not the need. Data age can strongly influence whether it can be used to make a decision. In our Marquee™ products, we include a data freshness indicator that shows proportionally how much of the data has been updated recently. Recently becomes a business rule of what constitutes fresh data. With some companies, the entity must have been updated with in the last seven days to be considered fresh.

Data Freshness indicator for time dependent data.

How to address?

We took the liberty of creating a Power BI model that analyzed the same immunization data used in the Seattle Times story. We’ll use this model to illustrate the simple technique. The following steps were performed to enable a simple “data vintage” page.

Procedure

  • Create a Data Vintage page (you may need more than one, depending on how many datasets and sources you have)
  • Add a back button to the page. We put ours in the upper left corner
  • Add the following information to the page using a consistent format that you’ve decided upon
    • Name of dataset
    • From where is the data sourced and how often
    • Which team owns the data
    • How to contact the data owner, if available
  • Create a Data Vintage bookmark for the data vintage page so that it can be navigated to via a button.
  • Go back to the report page that you created from this data
  • Add an Information button to the upper right corner of the page.
  • Select the button and navigate to the Visualization blade
  • Turn on Action
  • Set Type to Bookmark
  • Set the Bookmark to the one you created in Step 4.
  • Ctrl + Click the Information button to test
  • Ctrl + Click the Back button to test

That’s it. Anytime a user or fellow Power BI Author has a question about the underlying model data, it can be accessed very easily. You’ll also improve impressions of data authenticity by implementing this label in a consistent manner across all content.

A Working Example

We’ve created a different analysis of the Washington State Immunization exemption data, where we also added a data vintage page. You can try it out below. Click the i Information button in the upper right of the screen to display the data vintage.

In Part 3, we’ll examine the problem of data integrity and how can you be sure your data has implemented the proper business rules for your organization.

Have a question or comment? Feel free to post a comment below.

The one surprising thing about Visio Integration in Power BI

I was introduced to the new Visio custom visual for Power BI during the Microsoft Inspire convention. After a few minutes, I was impressed with the power and simplicity of it. It helped solve a problem that we’ve had when building out Power BI reports.

Telling a Complete Digital Story

In my Power BI classes, I talk about the importance of creating complete digital stories. They are complete in that you have three components, which allow the story to be understood in a standalone fashion. The three components are

  • Where are you
  • Where do you need to be
  • What is the path or connection between the two states

Think of Visio integration as the easiest way to show your data road map. The Visio diagram can add needed context to the overall picture. Adding proper context with a great diagram makes it much easier to interpret the results, make critical decisions, and take necessary actions.

Quick Power BI Example

Imagine you are a banker and you are trying to assess the current state of your loan process. Throughput is a very important to this process and you want to avoid things getting hung up as this impacts profits. Clients also get upset when they miss closing dates as they can lose real estate deals.

Today, Showing Data without Context

Today you have a Power BI report with various visuals that provide health metrics. You can easily see things like which step has the highest average age of items. You can even see with the bubble chart the overall distribution of steps by Average Age and Item Count.

However, the story isn’t very compelling and it doesn’t answer a key question, what else will be impacted if I don’t fix process step X? Do you clearly know where to focus your attention?

Tomorrow, Your Data In Context

Compare to this report where we’ve added a Visio diagram of the process. The diagram serves as a heat map. Areas that have high aging average values will be in Red. Those in danger are in Yellow and everything else is green. I can still answer the questions I had before. However, now I can see in a glance where I have too many “old” loans in process and what will be impacted downstream.

As I click on any visual on the report, the Visio diagram will zoom to the related step. If I click on the red process step in the Visio diagram, all other visuals on the page are filtered. These behaviors encourage further exploration of the data.

Surprisingly Easy to Implement

The one thing that surprised me about this visual is how easy it is to incorporate Visio diagrams you already have into your Power BI reports. The mechanics are such to make it very easy to map data to the shapes.

Scenario

I want to replace the Visio Diagram above with an existing one that I have. It shows the four major phases of the process. I want to use this diagram on an Executive version of the report, where I don’t need great operational detail.

Prepare Your Diagram

Step Action Diagram
Take your existing diagram and do this:
Design, Size, Fit to Drawing.
This helps reduce the white space around the drawing
The canvas will appear as shown.
Save your diagram using File, Save
If the diagram is not already in an Office 365 SharePoint folder, upload the diagram to a location that the consumers of the report would have access.
    
Click on the diagram to view it in the browser
Copy the URL as you’ll need this later in Power BI to insert the diagram.

Replace the Existing Visio Visual with a New Instance

Step Action Diagram
Open the model in Power BI Desktop
Select the Visio custom visual that shows the existing diagram
Go to the Visualization area and select another visual type. This resets the Visio custom visual
Click the Visio icon in the Visualization area to change it back
Paste in the URL of your diagram that you saved earlier.
Click Connect and login

Map Your Data to the Diagram

There are two tasks that are generally required when adding an existing diagram to a Power BI report.

  1. Replace the column value in the ID field.
  2. Map each shape to a data value in the ID column.

The procedure below will take you through the steps to do both actions.

Update the Column Values in the ID Field

Step Action Diagram
In Power BI Desktop, go to the Fields tab for the Visio visual. Drag the new ID column value over the existing column value.
Now Phase is in the ID Field.

Map Shapes to Data Values

Step

Action

Diagram

Click the < on the Field Mapping bar in the Visio Custom Visual
You will see the ID: field highlighted in yellow
Click the dropdown next to the ID field name. You’ll see the list of data values from the ID column shown.
To map a shape to a data value, select the shape, then select the data value to map to it.
Repeat for each shape and data value.
When you are done, collapse the ID field
Review the Values Settings below.
If you want to show the actual value, change the Display As to Text
OR
If you want to show the value in the form of a heat map, change the Display As to Colors. Set the colors and range accordingly.
Save and Publish Your Power BI model.

Live Example

When you see your report online, you can either click any box in the Visio diagram to filter all other visuals or you can click another visual to filter the Visio diagram.

An example of this report can be found below.

Conclusions

As you’ve seen, the mapping feature makes it quite easy to incorporate any existing Visio diagram into a Power BI dashboard. You can now add things like Org charts, process maps or other visual data for filtering in your reports.

More Information

If you want to know more, check out these links.

Want to Learn More? Register for one of our virtual training classes today!

Value.Compare in Power BI, An Advanced Power BI Class Excerpt

Course Image

This post is an excerpt from our Advanced Power BI class.

Importance of Data State

Analyzing data states in the data collected is generally the primary focus of our Power BI analyses. We look at aspects related to standards, compare dates to today’s date and execute other such comparisons. The business user who consumes your data is very focused on specific data states, which are defined and driven by their internal business rules. These rules will tend to change over time as the business evolves. Hence, it is important to implement your state definitions in a way that is flexible and reduces the number of changes necessary to implement a changed business rule.

Introducing Power BI Value.Compare

You’ll learn a technique using Power BI M Value.Compare, which enables you to easily convert dynamic ranges into states while reducing your data model maintenance effort. The need for this is that states, such as those of overdue invoices or tasks, where a large number of variances is returned, can create challenges which result in pieces of business logic being implemented in several different locations, like visual filters, etc.

Value.Compare enables you to easily convert the large number of potential values into a discrete set of states. This technique encapsulates the business logic into one place, reducing long term maintenance effort and places to maintain the business logic when the business rules inevitably change over time.

You’ll see two examples of Value.Compare usage. One example will show you how to use the function with comparing appointment dates to today’s date and converting variances to a state. We’ll show you how to use embedded data type conversions to prepare the data so that you can use Value.Compare. The other example will show how to use Value.Compare to determine Service Level Agreement compliance, based on duration values. This will show you an easy way to implement this logic and how to externalize the comparison value using a parameter.[/fusion_text][/fullwidth]

Creating Beautiful Power BI Slicers

This post addresses one of several common challenges for new Power BI users face. We’ve compiled a list of challenges, based on Our Real World Power BI training series.

Making your Power BI slicers visually distinctive.

Many new users can create slicers in Power BI to enable the end user to dynamically explore their data. However, many don’t know about the styling options that can make your slicers visually distinct and finger friendly for touch devices.

The video below takes you through the steps to beautify your slicers.

Power BI Dashboards in One Day for SharePoint / Office 365

Want to learn how to build this kind of dashboard over SharePoint data?”

Yes you can! The big difference between our class and ones you’ll find elsewhere is that we go beyond the tool knowledge to show you:

  • How should I approach my BI need?
  • What things should be considered when creating dashboards?
  • What are the best practices?
  • How much is this going to cost me to license?
  • What security aspects should concern me?

Why you should take this course

To save time and money, immediately and in the long run. Since we’ve been in your shoes before, we also discuss topics related to maintenance, implementation, security and design best practices.

According to Forrester, half of a department’s annual reporting needs are ad hoc, which works out to be about 50 reports a year. They also added that the fully loaded cost of an individual report is $3200-$6100 per report. Each report can eat up up to 32 hours of time to develop and test. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in throwaway report investment.

Learn a faster, cheaper way to explore your data. Power BI is well suited to enable quick ad hoc reporting where you spend the majority of the time developing the data set, rather than the individual report. This helps you save money and reduces the cost of developing ad hoc reports.

Who should take this course

If your company uses Office 365 or SharePoint 2013/2016 and you are a:

  • Manager
  • Business Analyst
  • Power User
  • SharePoint Administrator
  • Consultant

You need this class if you are expected to use data from Office 365 and SharePoint to do your job effectively. The class assumes no prior knowledge of Power BI and Data Concepts

What is required for this class

  • Install Microsoft Power BI Desktop
  • We’ll provide a Office 365 site for you to use for exercises

What you will learn

In this training course you will learn how to create Production Dashboards using Power BI, from SharePoint list and document library data.

You will learn how to use Power BI in a multitude of situations, including ad hoc analysis and the creation of formal dashboard. You will learn about the Power BI components: Power BI Desktop, PowerBI.com, Power BI mobile applications and how they can be used with Office 365 and SharePoint

You’ll also receive an introduction into the core functions of Power BI; Data extraction, loading and transformation using Power Query Formula Language (“M”) and DAX. You’ll receive some guidelines on how to extract Project data in fast manner.

You will discover some data modeling practices that will ensure you have maximum flexibility in analysis. You’ll also learn some visualization best practices to ensure you can tell your digital story effectively.

You’ll learn best practices for maintaining content with your organization. This course provides an end to end view of Power BI for Project reporting, so that you are able to use Power BI immediately for your needs.

What you will get

You’ll get the tools to immediately get started on your design. You’ll receive:

  • Design spec that prompts the asking of the right questions
  • PowerPoint-based layout templates for dashboard paper prototyping
  • Tried and true BI design approach

5 critical value-adds you will take back to your company

  • You’ll have a jump start on a standard BI development approach
  • You’ll deliver new insights into your data.
  • You’ll have a great understanding of how Power BI can be used and implemented
  • You’ll learn techniques to make your dashboards perform well with SharePoint data
  • You’ll gain insight into how others are leveraging Power BI within their companies.

How will the class be conducted?

The class will be conducted live in an 8 hour session over Skype for Business, from 7 AM – 11 AM and 12 PM to 4 PM Pacific Time, with a lunch break from 11 AM -12 PM and other breaks during the day.

The sessions will occur on Wendesday, September 28, 2016.

This class will be recorded and made available, in case you miss part of the class or are unable to attend live.

What’s the cost?

Only $199 per person to learn how to unlock the power of your data.

Questions?

Contact us directly at info@tumbleroad.com.

Curriculum

  • Introduction to Power BI
  • Getting Data from SharePoint
  • Using Power Query M for Data Retrieval and Transformation
  • Data Modeling with DAX
  • Data Visualization Techniques
  • Content Administration and Deployment
  • Licensing and Planning Considerations

Project Dashboards in One Day Using Microsoft Power BI – Project Online – Sept 14

“Want your Project reporting to look like this?”

Then this is the class for you! The big difference between our class and ones you’ll find elsewhere is that we go beyond the tool knowledge to share real world experience with these questions.

  • How should I approach my BI need?
  • What things should be considered when creating dashboards?
  • What are the best practices?
  • How much is this going to cost me to license?
  • What security aspects should concern me?

Why you should take this course

To save you and your company time and money. Project management depends on great data. It’s the lifeblood of your team for making decisions and taking action. You need data for decisions and you are spending a lot of time and money currently, trying to get to that data.

According to Forrester, half of a department’s annual reporting needs are ad hoc, which works out to be about 50 reports a year. They also added that the fully loaded cost of an individual report is $3200-$6100 per report. Each report can eat up up to 32 hours of time to develop and test. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in throwaway report investment.

Learn a faster, cheaper way to explore your Project data. Power BI is well suited to enable quick ad hoc reporting where you spend the majority of the time developing the data set, rather than the individual report. This helps you save money and reduces the cost of developing ad hoc reports.

Who should take this course

If your company uses Project Online and you are a:

  • Manager
  • Business Analyst
  • Power User
  • Project Server/Online Administrator
  • SharePoint Administrator
  • Consultant

You need this class if you are expected to use data from Microsoft Project to do your job effectively. The class assumes no prior knowledge of Power BI and Data Concepts

What is required for this class

  • Access to your Microsoft Project Online instance
  • Install Microsoft Power BI Desktop
  • If you don’t have Project Online yet, don’t worry. We have one you can use, for this class.

What you will learn

In this training course you will learn how to create Project Dashboards using Power BI, from Project Server data.

You will learn how to use Power BI in a multitude of situations, including ad hoc analysis and the creation of formal dashboard. You will learn about the Power BI components: Power BI Desktop, PowerBI.com, Power BI mobile applications and how they can be used with Microsoft Project Server/Online.

You’ll also receive an introduction into the core functions of Power BI; Data extraction, loading and transformation using Power Query Formula Language (“M”) and DAX. You’ll receive some guidelines on how to extract Project data in fast manner.

You will discover some data modeling practices that will ensure you have maximum flexibility in analysis. You’ll also learn some visualization best practices to ensure you can tell your digital story effectively.

You’ll learn best practices for maintaining content with your organization. This course provides an end to end view of Power BI for Project reporting, so that you are able to use Power BI immediately for your needs.

What you will get

You’ll get the tools to immediately get started on your design. You’ll receive:

  • Design spec that prompts the asking of the right questions
  • PowerPoint-based layout templates for dashboard paper prototyping
  • Tried and true BI design approach
  • Data dictionary of the Microsoft Project data store
  • Relationship diagrams for all Microsoft Project entities

5 critical value-adds you will take back to your company

  • You’ll have a jump start on a standard BI development approach
  • You’ll deliver new insights into your data.
  • You’ll have a great understanding of how Power BI can be used and implemented
  • You’ll learn techniques to make your dashboards perform well with project data
  • You’ll gain insight into how others are leveraging Power BI within their companies.

How will the class be conducted?

The class will be conducted live in an 8 hour session over Skype for Business, from 9 AM – 12 PM and 1 PM to 6 PM Pacific Time, with a lunch break from 12 PM -1 PM and other breaks during the day.

The sessions will occur on Wednesday, September 14, 2016.

This class will be recorded and made available, in case you miss part of the class or are unable to attend live.

Need an earlier time? Look at this Central time alternative.

What’s the cost?

Only $199 to learn how to unlock the power of your Project data.

Questions?

Contact us directly at info@tumbleroad.com.

Curriculum

  • Introduction to Power BI
  • Getting Data from Project
  • Using Power Query M for Data Retrieval and Transformation
  • Data Modeling with DAX
  • Data Visualization Techniques
  • Content Administration and Deployment
  • Licensing and Planning Considerations

Project Dashboards in One Day Using Microsoft Power BI – Project Online – Sept 13

“Want your Project reporting to look like this?”

Then this is the class for you! The big difference between our class and ones you’ll find elsewhere is that we go beyond the tool knowledge to share real world experience with these questions.

  • How should I approach my BI need?
  • What things should be considered when creating dashboards?
  • What are the best practices?
  • How much is this going to cost me to license?
  • What security aspects should concern me?

Why you should take this course

To save you and your company time and money. Project management depends on great data. It’s the lifeblood of your team for making decisions and taking action. You need data for decisions and you are spending a lot of time and money currently, trying to get to that data.

According to Forrester, half of a department’s annual reporting needs are ad hoc, which works out to be about 50 reports a year. They also added that the fully loaded cost of an individual report is $3200-$6100 per report. Each report can eat up up to 32 hours of time to develop and test. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in throwaway report investment.

Learn a faster, cheaper way to explore your Project data. Power BI is well suited to enable quick ad hoc reporting where you spend the majority of the time developing the data set, rather than the individual report. This helps you save money and reduces the cost of developing ad hoc reports.

Who should take this course

If your company uses Project Online and you are a:

  • Manager
  • Business Analyst
  • Power User
  • Project Server/Online Administrator
  • SharePoint Administrator
  • Consultant

You need this class if you are expected to use data from Microsoft Project to do your job effectively. The class assumes no prior knowledge of Power BI and Data Concepts

What is required for this class

  • Access to your Microsoft Project Online instance
  • Install Microsoft Power BI Desktop
  • If you don’t have Project Online yet, don’t worry. We have one you can use, for this class.

What you will learn

In this training course you will learn how to create Project Dashboards using Power BI, from Project Server data.

You will learn how to use Power BI in a multitude of situations, including ad hoc analysis and the creation of formal dashboard. You will learn about the Power BI components: Power BI Desktop, PowerBI.com, Power BI mobile applications and how they can be used with Microsoft Project Server/Online.

You’ll also receive an introduction into the core functions of Power BI; Data extraction, loading and transformation using Power Query Formula Language (“M”) and DAX. You’ll receive some guidelines on how to extract Project data in fast manner.

You will discover some data modeling practices that will ensure you have maximum flexibility in analysis. You’ll also learn some visualization best practices to ensure you can tell your digital story effectively.

You’ll learn best practices for maintaining content with your organization. This course provides an end to end view of Power BI for Project reporting, so that you are able to use Power BI immediately for your needs.

What you will get

You’ll get the tools to immediately get started on your design. You’ll receive:

  • Design spec that prompts the asking of the right questions
  • PowerPoint-based layout templates for dashboard paper prototyping
  • Tried and true BI design approach
  • Data dictionary of the Microsoft Project data store
  • Relationship diagrams for all Microsoft Project entities

5 critical value-adds you will take back to your company

  • You’ll have a jump start on a standard BI development approach
  • You’ll deliver new insights into your data.
  • You’ll have a great understanding of how Power BI can be used and implemented
  • You’ll learn techniques to make your dashboards perform well with project data
  • You’ll gain insight into how others are leveraging Power BI within their companies.

How will the class be conducted?

The class will be conducted live in an 8 hour session over Skype for Business, from 8 AM – 12 PM and 1 PM to 5 PM Eastern Time, with a lunch break from 12 PM -1 PM and other breaks during the day.

The sessions will occur on Tuesday, September 13, 2016.

This class will be recorded and made available, in case you miss part of the class or are unable to attend live.

Need a later time? Look at this Pacific time alternative.

What’s the cost?

Only $199 to learn how to unlock the power of your Project data.

Questions?

Contact us directly at info@tumbleroad.com.

Curriculum

  • Introduction to Power BI
  • Getting Data from Project
  • Using Power Query M for Data Retrieval and Transformation
  • Data Modeling with DAX
  • Data Visualization Techniques
  • Content Administration and Deployment
  • Licensing and Planning Considerations

The Truth Shall Make You Miserable

Lack of Faith - Vader- Project Dashboards

When companies begin making their data more accessible via Self-Serve Power BI, they soon reach a critical break point in those efforts. The Project dashboards tell them something that isn’t pleasant or doesn’t match the narrative been publicized.

The Reality in Your Project Dashboards

Performance indicators go red. The data shows the stellar progress that was planned isn’t happening. Operational demands for time are much higher in reality than assumed in planning. In short, it shows the harsh reality, as captured in the data.

This is a moment of truth for organizations. Are we going to embrace the transparency or will we attempt to control the narrative?

Data Quality Challenges

The first question is normally, is this data accurate? This is quite reasonable to ask, especially at the beginning the data stream may not be as clean as it should be.

The approach to this answer can decide your success going forward. For some, questioning the data is a prelude to dismissing the use of the data. For others, it’s a starting point for improvement.

The data deniers will provide many reasons why “we can’t use the data.” They will complain that the data is inaccurate or incomplete. Therefore, they can’t trust their data to integrate its use into their daily work or to use it to make decisions.

These data deniers may have other hidden reasons for their position, such as political or power base protection reasons. Moving to data-centric culture is a big change for many organizations, as you have to be open about your failures. No company is always above average in every endeavor.

Data deniers also fear how business intelligence might impact their careers. If the corporate culture is such where punishment is meted out when the numbers and updates aren’t desirable, likely data transparency won’t be welcome.

Change the Focus of How Data is Used to Succeed

The key to overcoming the data fear is to change the intent for its use, moving the focus from punishment to improvement.

For the successful companies using data, they embrace two simple facts. One, the data is never perfect and that it doesn’t have to be to effect a positive change. Two, they’ve defined the level of granularity needed in the data to be used successfully.

How Imprecise Data is Changing the World

We see this approach in our personal lives. For example, the Fitbit device is not 100% accurate or precise. Yet, millions are changing their behavior of being more active because of the feedback that it provides. based on relatively decent data. You may also be carrying a smart phone, which also tracks your steps. Between the two, you would have a generally good idea of how many steps you took today.

From a granularity approach, we aren’t generally worried about whether I took 4103 steps or 4107 steps today. We took 4100 steps. Hundreds is our minimum granularity. It could easily be at the thousands level, as long as that granularity meets your information needs.

Cost Benefit of a Minimum Level of Granularity

One area we see this type of data accuracy dispute in the corporate world is with cost data. It’s been engrained in our psyche that we have to balance to the penny. Our default data granularity is set to the cent.

While that may improve accuracy and precision, it doesn’t make a material difference in the impact. For example, if your average project budget is $2M, then worrying about a 5 cent variance is a percentage variance of 0.0000025%. I’ve seen organizations who get wrapped up in balancing to the penny and waste an inordinate amount of time each week getting there.

Instead, let’s define a minimum granularity in the data such that a 1% variance is visible. For a $2M average, you would round up at the $10,000 point. Doing so then reduces work attempting to make the data perfect. Any variances of that size are significant enough to warrant attention and are more likely to stand out.

Implementing Self-Server BI using products like Microsoft Power BI and Marquee™ Project Dashboards will enable your organization to gain great improvements as long as they are willing to accept the assumptions above. The truth may make you miserable in the short term as you address underlying data and process challenges. In the long run, you and your company will be better served.

Please share your experiences in the comments below.