Power BI governance – Why, what and how?

We have been a bit quiet on our Forward Forever blog on topics related to Power BI, which is a crucial part of the Power Platform family. But that is about to change as our data experts will start a (never-ending) blog series related to Power BI governance.

In this blog series, we will start with the basics. Why is governance needed? What does Microsoft offer out of the box? And what we at Forward Forever offer on top of that. We will look into the Microsoft governance roadmap to see what is coming. Then we do deep dives into different tools and processes that you can use in your Power BI governance work.

So if you are a Power BI admin or your organization is looking into Power BI as your future data discovery tool, read on! Also, follow us on LinkedIn to get notified when a new post is out!

Why do we need governance?

Some might ask why do we need governance in a self-service BI tool? Isn’t the idea that everyone can use it as they like?

Well yes and no. We want everyone to use Power BI as they like. But we also want users to feel that they have the needed knowledge and support to do it in a productive and secure way. From the IT perspective we want to know that performance is where it should be, and we are not paying more than we need. This is where governance comes to play. Power BI governance provides a formal framework on how Power BI is used in our organization. It also aligns Power BI to the overall IT and business strategy of the organization.   

The goals of governance are to ensure availability, usability, consistency, data integrity and data security. As well as processes that support these high level goals.

What does Power BI governance include?

We have been working with dozens of organizations on topics related to Power BI governance. We have seen that though all organizations have their own set up and situation, some tasks are needed in every environment. The most important tasks can be grouped by the goals of governance. 

  • Availability
    • Planning and analyzing technical requirements for the Power BI set up. How much capacity is needed, how many users there is now and will be in the future, is additional functionalities needed etc.
    • Licensing
    • Monitoring performance and usage and setting up the tools for this.
    • Following the Power BI roadmap and implementing new functionalities to the organization.
  • Usability & consistency
    • Report developer and end user training so developers know how to create reports with good usability and end users know how to use Power BI.
    • Organizational development practices for example for report distribution, documenting, naming conventions, deployment process and version control.
    • Report template and theme file for shared look and feel and UI patterns.
  • Data Integrity
    • Planning the complete data pipeline and Power BI’s role in it.
    • Creating transparency on what reports and data sources are available.
    • Gateway set up and monitoring for on prem data sources.
  • Data Security
    • Data source access control
    • Row level security
    • Report developer and end user training on security
  • Processes
    • Planning and setting up processes and responsibilities. For example how access to reports, data sources and licenses is handled or who can create workspaces.
    • Setting up a communication channel among users and admins (for example a Reporting Community Teams team).
    • Onboarding new report developers

What are the common issues rising from poor governance?

 

  • Assuming governance is a project that has an end date

Your organization is constantly changing as is the technology and business requirements. Governance needs to be up to date with this change.

  • Forgetting any of the three elements: people, processes and technology

Creating streamlined processes has little effect if you don’t communicate them over and over again to the people.

  • Not enough training or support for end users and report developers

Leading to underusing the potential of the tool or to reports performing poorly. And in the worst case scenario reports showing incorrect results.

  • Users do not know what reports already exists or what data sources are available or how to access them

Inventing the wheel or repeating the inefficient ways of working.

  • No clear processes what is production content and what is test

Users are not sure what is the latest version or is the data up to date. Power BI admins can’t proactively support production content.

  • Poor performance – unhappy users

Power BI admins do not have enough visibility to the actual capacity needs and/or what is using up the capacity.

How to get started?

Depending on your organization’s current situation with Power BI the answer to this question is very different.

If you are just starting the journey to make your organization data driven with self-service BI tool, like Power BI, we highly recommend using this opportunity to really evaluate the current situation and where you want to be 2 to 5 years from now.

There is a ton of material to support you with this. Microsoft has a learning path Administer Power BI and a whitepaper Planning a Power BI Enterprise Deployment from Microsoft. Note that the product development moves so fast that these materials are not always 100% up to date. So it is also good to leverage the expertise of other organizations and partners at this point to learn from the ones who are few steps ahead in the journey. The Power BI blog is another great resource to know the most up to date information. 

We are always happy to help in big and small questions. To make contacting us easy, we have just introduced a new way for you to access our years of experience working with Power Platform with the possibility to book a 30 minutes consultation session with one of our experts.

If Power BI is already in use in your organization you will definitely want to read the part 2 of this blog series. In that post we will go through all the most relevant Power BI governance tools Microsoft is currently offering out of the box.

Do you have a specific topic or a problem that you would like to be discussed in this series? Leave a comment or contact us at hello@forwardforever.com.

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