“Well, that looks great… but what good is it to me?!”
As a Power BI Developer or a Data Analyst, business leaders rely on you for their Business Intelligence. You must deliver visual dashboards that quickly and clearly tell a story of what’s happening in the business.
So how can you give your business leaders the insights they truly need? How do you sift through the mass of data to uncover the answers that will make a real impact?
In this guide we discuss 5 simple tips to deliver reliable, useful, reports that your business leaders will trust to make important decisions.
1. Find out what matters
It may sound obvious, but you’d be amazed how many reports make assumptions about what people need to know – and that’s why too many reports fail to help anyone.
So, ask questions before you start building anything. If someone requests a report or dashboard, ask:
- What specific questions do they need to answer?
- What insight or outcome do they expect?
- And once they have that insight, what will it allow them to do?
It’s all about ‘ACTIONABLE’ data. ‘If I know x, I’ll be able to do y’. If you ask smart questions at the beginning, you’re one step closer to giving your business leaders something genuinely useful.
2. Less is more, so use restraint
Having taken the time to find out what’s needed – make sure you deliver it! Again, this sounds obvious, but I’ve worked with someone who, when asked for a report about the number of customers we had at a given day, managed to turn it into a 10-page report chopping that customer number up in more ways than I could even count.
They were well meaning, but you couldn’t see the wood from the trees. With all the pages of analysis, it wasn’t easy to find that single, key number.
So, the report was a failure and nobody used it – lots of time and effort wasted, and business leaders turned off. So less is more – make sure your report has the has the key things front and centre. Not hidden amongst pages of unnecessary background data. If they’ve told you what they need in the report, make sure they get that (and only that) first. You can always add more later if you’re asked for it.
3. Think ‘user experience’
How can you make your report easy to digest for busy, time poor colleagues? It’s not good enough to just dump the data into a report and leave your boss to find what they need. Your job is to guide them to the answers and insights they’ve asked you for.
Choosing the right visuals to present your data is key. As well as keeping your report clear and uncluttered, choose your visuals carefully. Don’t use a pie chart for a visual with 20 different options, it’s meaningless and hard to read – choose a way of showing that data point in a way that tells a clear story.
Use things like Top 10s to focus your boss on the things that matter – if you have 100 customers but only 10 of them have genuinely significant spend with you, it might be appropriate to only show those 10 and bundle the rest up as “Other”. This will help whoever is reading your report go straight to the significant data
4. Use colour sparingly to create emphasis
When you start working in data visualisation it’s tempting to throw the whole colour pallet at it. Resist! Too much colour can be distracting for the reader and hide important insights.
Instead use colour sparingly, ensure your report is calm and clear to draw your reader to the important insights. Emphasise key statistics and/or exceptions. For example, use bold colour for a ‘missed target’ and a neutral colour scheme for run-of-the-mill performance. Essentially, help the reader find what’s most important rather than having to work it out for themselves.
5. Guarantee adoption with a thorough hand over
Even if your business has been using Power BI a while this still applies.
Take the time to hand over your report. Make sure everyone understands what’s in it, how it works, how they get to those answers and why they can rely on the information. Don’t forget, this is a great time for direct feedback so remember to ask what, if any, your readers would like to change – and then revise if necessary
Remember, Power BI is just a tool – success lies in the execution
Getting the most from Power BI and data visualisation requires quality thinking, a good understanding of what you need to KNOW, a plan for the data and the technical skills to put it all into practice.
Explore your ideas with us, we’re here to help. If you want to explore how you can implement Power BI in a way that adds real value to your organisation, book a 1-hour, free consultation with a Power BI expert here.