When beginning to use Power BI people tend to get frustrated and some will give up on the process altogether. I did a lot of work in excel and when I started I found Power BI frustrating because it did not function as excel does. With that in mind I have compiled the following list of tips for new Power BI users:
Take time to clean up your data.
When starting most people want to go straight into creating visuals and mapping out their reports. That is ok if you are working from a table that has exactly the columns you need and are titled correctly. If you are connecting to data sources where the information is coming over in a more raw form you definitely want to take the time to clean up your data. Some things you can do:
- Remove unnecessary columns.
- Rename columns to be more descriptive.
- Trim and clean cells to ensure data falls in the correct buckets.
Start with basic reports and then upgrade as you learn more.
While complex, interactive reports may be your end goal I recommend starting with a simple report to learn Power BI functionality. As your experience and knowledge grows you can expand your reports. Start by connecting to just a few tables and add basic visuals.
Pre-plan your reports but remain flexible.
I have found myself staring at a blank canvas in Power BI with a few tables loaded and no idea where to start when creating a report. It is extremely helpful to put together a rough draft of what you want to see before you begin working in Power BI. Draw it out or make a list of the data you want to see, then you can begin collecting and putting the data points onto the canvas. Remember to be flexible as you are creating reports. Space and aesthetics matter so some visualizations may not fit on the same page or you may need to rethink how well it will function for end users. Don’t get frustrated trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Ask for help.
If you reach a block and just cannot figure out how to accomplish something or you don’t have the time to familiarize yourself with Power BI ask for help. Consulting companies and the Power BI community are full of experts ready to help make this amazing tool work for you.
-Jerica Coleman, CRM and Power BI Consultant