What do you need to know about Power BI dashboards? How can they help your school or business? What should you focus on when creating them?
This article contains answers to these questions and more. Read on to learn about dashboards in Power BI, the basics of creating them, and how you can use them for critical business functions like reporting and analytics.
Power BI Dashboard—What is It?
A Power BI dashboard is a visual report that provides an overview of essential facts, shows data trends over time, and enables users to explore individual facts. Power BI dashboards provide a professional, polished look and feel to your reports that you can share with others.
As with any report you create in Power BI, a dashboard can be shared through many channels and published on the web. In addition, users with self-service features enabled in their accounts can keep their dashboards up to date by using the refresh functionality.
One of the primary advantages of dashboards is making your reports available quickly across devices and platforms, whether PCs or mobile devices like smartphones or tablets. Users don’t have to wait for data refreshes when viewing dashboards; instead, they always show current information. And if you want even more powerful capabilities, try out Power BI Premium.
Why Do I Need a Dashboard?
Power BI dashboards help you get critical information to the right people faster—and make that information easy to find and understand. They provide a high-level view of essential facts about your business while also offering details to support more specific queries. With a dashboard, you can:
Show Performance and Status in One Place
Dashboards can be used as an overview or big picture view of the essential facts and metrics for your business units or departments, such as revenue, several customers, achievements in customer service levels, technology usage trends, or sales pipeline progress. They can also emphasize action items for individuals so they know what needs to be done next.
Create Reports Without Using Report Authoring Tools
If you’re a business user who doesn’t have access to report authoring tools, you can create dashboards from your already-using information. This helps you complete critical tasks on your own and make better decisions.
Stay up-to-date With Current Information
A dashboard automatically refreshes itself with new data as soon as it’s available. This means no more waiting for reports or emails to obtain updates; open a dashboard when you need it.
Collaborate More Easily With Others
Once a dashboard is created, it’s easy to share it across teams and departments, so each person gets relevant information in one place.
Dashboard Design Tips and Tricks
To create a dashboard that supports business needs and satisfies users, keep the following design tips and tricks in mind.
- Use tiles to create an overview of high-level facts. Dashboards can be used to show a big picture view—high-level, summary information— as well as more specific details. Consider using tiles for sections like company summary and key performance indicators (KPIs), followed by detailed information in the rows below.
- Use charts to showcase performance trends. Many dashboard tiles are charts that show a trend over time, such as sales pipeline progress or a series of support cases by the time they were resolved.
- Consider using “drill-down” design patterns. These can be useful if you want users to look at the more detailed information interactively without switching tabs or pages. For example, you could create columns with KPIs and details for each KPI on separate rows and then add slicers (pivoted tables) next to the column headings so users can select a metric from one list and view details about it in another chart.
- Add conditional formatting logic. Conditional formatting is a visual way to track progress toward a goal. For example, you can change the fill color of a tile or bar chart based on whether targets have been met or exceeded. The conditional formatting rules will be applied automatically when new data is loaded into the dashboard.
- Use slicers. These interactive filters allow users to filter table data based on multiple dimensions at once—for example, selecting month and year from dropdown lists to show only current sales figures for May 2016. Slicers can only be used with information stored in tables; they don’t work with charts (except for gauges).
- Add images and graphics. Images and graphics can help enhance your message by adding emotional appeal or using them to tell a story about the data.
- Consider adding tables. You can use tables to add more information—more than you could fit on rows in a single tile or column—about one specific metric or KPI. For example, if each row of a chart shows sales for one quarter, then use table rows to show total revenue across all four quarters in the “Total” column and average quarterly revenue in another column.
Common Mistakes With Dashboards
Don’t overlook these common mistakes when creating dashboards.
Don’t try to make the dashboard do everything
Consider what information is most important for key performance indicators and then create a simple way to convey that information in an effective chart or table, rather than trying to cram as much data onto each tile as possible.
Don’t use too many filters
You can use slicers with Dashboard tiles that contain tables, but it’s still best not to overwhelm users by using more than 2 or 3 of them per dashboard. The key is to select the suitable two or three filters that will provide the most outstanding value to users.
Don’t use too many rows
If you have many charts and tables on a single dashboard, try grouping similar information in a separate section and then adding tiles that show totals for each group at the bottom of each section. Having too many rows can make it difficult for users to find what they’re looking for.
Don’t have more than 50 tiles on any dashboard
The limit exists because users might experience a decrease in performance as their dashboards become more extensive with more tiles, chart updates, slicers, and so forth. However, note that this limit doesn’t apply if Power BI Desktop is used to publish the dashboard because users can’t have more than 50 tiles in a published dashboard.
Avoid using too many visuals on your dashboards
Your message can be diluted if you use too many pictures, charts, or tables on one dashboard. Please keep it simple and focus on conveying the essential information about each KPI or performance indicator.
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