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Upgrade from Excel to Power BI Dashboards to Improve Reporting

It is not uncommon for businesses to wonder how they should build dashboards into their business systems. After all, a great dashboard will give insights into key metrics that businesses can use for various analyses. Often, businesses believe that Excel is the best route for them. This is usually because people are creatures of habit, and spreadsheets are what they have always known. By learning more about Microsoft Power BI, the most widely used cloud-based analytics platform available, and its dashboards, businesses can unlock greater dashboard capabilities to drive success.

Understanding Power BI

Power BI is an integrated suite of software solutions, connectors, and applications designed to transform disparate information sources into unified, visually compelling, and interactive outputs. Whether businesses store data in Excel spreadsheets or a mix of cloud-based and on-site data warehouses, Power BI can help. It enables seamless connection to data sources, facilitates visualization and discovery of key insights, and allows for easy sharing with a targeted or broad audience.

Power BI’s usage varies depending on roles within a project or team, with different roles utilizing different Power BI features. For instance, a user might mainly use the Power BI service for viewing dashboards and reports. A colleague could be using Power BI Desktop or Power BI Report Builder to generate reports. These reports then publish to the Power BI service for viewing. Someone in sales might generally use the Power BI Mobile app to track sales progress and delve into new sales leads. Developers, on the other hand, could use Power BI application programming interfaces (APIs) to push data into semantic models or embed dashboards and run reports into custom applications.

The usage of Power BI can vary depending on the specific needs of an assignment or role. Each service or feature of Power BI serves as a tool for different situations. For example, Power BI Desktop can be used to produce reports on customer engagement stats. The Power BI service can be used to view real-time inventory and manufacturing progress. Additionally, a paginated report of mailable bills can be created from Power BI semantic models. The flexibility and versatility of Power BI lie in its ability to cater to various needs and roles within organizations.

When to use Excel for dashboards

Excel is significantly less powerful and more restrictive than Power BI. This is fine for considering a lot of tabular reports, such as income statement or if users are well versed in spreadsheets and they intend to send the entire dashboard and dataset via email or share the whole workbook. Excel dashboards can also work to the best of their ability if there is simply no interest in using any other platform.

When to upgrade to Power BI

Excel has its limitations, and for growing companies whose needs have exceeded the simplicity of Excel, it is time to think about switching to Power BI.

Microsoft’s Power BI software is designed for self-service business intelligence, offering an intuitive platform for creating visually engaging reports from data. The cloud-based platform also facilitates the creation of interactive tables, reports, and dashboards that are easily shareable over the web, facilitating efficient team collaboration. Users can access visualizations on mobile platforms, such as iOS and Android, or even on a connected watch.

Power BI also offers various security features to protect data, and it prevents the sharing of outdated data, ensuring everyone has access to the latest version of reports and dashboards.

Considerations before upgrading to Power BI

The company is looking for more aesthetically appealing reports

Excel reports are simpler and less attractive than those that companies can create in Power BI. When looking for a way to showcase personalized, eye-catching reports for employees, stakeholders, or potential clients, Power BI offers reports with more visual appeal and interactivity.

Whether it will be necessary to support advanced cross-filtering features between charts

Excel does not offer advanced cross-filtering between graphics, but this feature is natively built into Power BI.

If it is helpful for data to be automatically updated

Data updates automatically in Power BI, but this is not the case in Excel.

Whether tech-savviness is a concern

With Power BI, a large number of users can work on reports, whether they are experts or not. With Excel, reports often need to be limited to a specific subset of users.

Analytics are important to the organization

Analytics should be important to any business, and Excel offers far fewer data analysis options than Power BI.

Data modelers are looking for something more robust

Power BI is ideal for building complex data models easily, but Excel only offers the ability to work on simple and structured data models.

If there has been struggles to connect separate tables

When using Excel, it is difficult to connect separate tables, but businesses can easily achieve this using Power BI.

Whether the company wants to use up-to-date tools in your organization

Excel is just a traditional spreadsheet program, while Power BI is an advanced version of a data analysis tool, with a great amount of possibilities to work with the data.

If collaboration is important to the company

Excel makes it fairly difficult to share documents and work with others. On the other hand, Power BI makes sharing data and reports quite easy.

The company is looking for a way to process data

As data becomes more and more important in the business world, Excel increasingly shows its limitations, as it can only handle a finite amount of information. Power BI allows companies to process much larger data sets.

Whether users struggle to understand Excel

As simple as many aspects of Excel are, the user interface can be quite confusing to many users. Power BI is often much easier to understand than its spreadsheet counterpart.

Business intelligence support from Citrin Cooperman

Citrin Cooperman’s Digital Services Practice has extensive experience in helping clients discover opportunities in today’s business intelligence universe. To learn more about how our team can help your business determine if it is time to upgrade from Excel to Microsoft Power BI dashboards to reach its strategic objectives, reach out to your Citrin Cooperman advisor or Derek Nachimow at

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