Truly useful Power BI dashboards start with ‘User Stories’

Let’s talk about how you make your Power BI dashboards truly useful to those people who read them…

Unfortunately, it’s quite common that many Management Information reports don’t quite live up to expectation. Perhaps they’re too confusing… or they simply don’t provide the answers people need. For whatever reason, they end up ignored, forgotten on the company’s intranet, while people go back to their spreadsheets and old habits.  All that early optimism dashed, all that time wasted. So how do you make sure that doesn’t happen? 

How can you guarantee that when you create a report or dashboard for someone, that they’re going to use it?

There’s a simple, tried, and tested method called ‘User Stories’. They’re really, really, simple, and very effective.

What is a User Story? 

Essentially it’s a way of recording a requirement. A User Story is made up of three simple parts: WHO, WHAT, and, most importantly, WHYLet’s break it down. The 3 parts consist of…

  1. As [the role or person]
  2. I need [the thing, the piece of information]
  3. So that I can [do something with it or get some sort of defined benefit from it]

Let’s look at an example.. 

  1. As the Finance Director…
  2. I need to see our liquidity and cashflow over the next 24 months
  3. so that I can plan strategic borrowing, so we don’t run out of money.

In those three lines you know exactly what is needed and why.

Just compare that to a typical requirement… ‘the Finance Director wants a cashflow overview’. The User Story much more revealing, isn’t it? 
As a Report Developer, you can now select targeted data and specific visuals that will help the FD plan future borrowing and ensure that the company doesn’t run out of money. We all focus on the outcome, and we understand what a truly successful report should do. 
User Stories take seconds to write but can save a lot of wasted time later. As a rule, if someone can’t tell you why they need something in a few seconds, they may not need it at all!
User Stories also help you target your work to deliver value, faster. And they provide the success criteria to validate your work against. More value to your report consumers, less time wasted. It’s a win-win. 

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