Being a data analyst at Code Creators Inc. I keep looking for better methods of data visualization. With the increasing demand and significance of effective data visualization, Power BI has come into a trend lately. With user-friendly features for data visualization and reporting, Microsoft Power BI has become one of the most sought-after tools by business enterprises. We find Power BI especially useful when it comes to reporting on SharePoint lists and folders on regular basis; which is actually great to make sure that your end-users are actually adopting and using the tool in the right way.
While using it in blend with Microsoft Flow, you can also explore a whole new world of features, knowing that Microsoft Flow can also send data to Power BI automatically, if you want to. And, when it comes to SharePoint, we all know that the entire MS Office 365 suite is an assemblage of highly productive collaborative tools; but it will only be as much useful, as the end-user will make it.
In this post, we will teach you about using Power BI and configuring MS Flow for SharePoint reporting.
This short overview is for those, who don’t have primary knowledge about the Power BI tool. Power BI is an intelligent data visualization tool originated and managed by Microsoft. The tool is available in multiple versions ranging from Free to Premium Power BI version. Power BI is a cloud-based BI (Business Intelligence) service, along with a desktop-based interface. Both environments allow their users to create dashboards and reports for their desired custom visualizations.
If you have ever used reporting tools such as SQL Server Reporting Services then please don’t get Power BI confused with it, because Power BI has a very attractive, engaging, and user-friendly interface. Using Power BI, you can publish your reports and dashboards online to any group of MS Office 365, in just a few clicks.
Today, a lot of business organizations choose a modern intranet on SharePoint in Microsoft Office 365. Hence, it is very useful to create and store Power BI reports on SharePoint development. At Code Creators Inc. we provide extensive training to client companies and their users about how they can use the tool efficiently. Below are the step-by-step instructions given to create a Power BI dashboard while using data from SharePoint.
Power BI is available in two versions or environments i.e. Desktop and Online; however, we would suggest using Power BI Desktop for creating efficient and high-performing dashboards. And, you can always publish them with your colleagues by using Power BI Online.
Once your Power BI Desktop is downloaded, logged in, and open, then you can simply click on the ‘Get Data’ button in the Home tab, present on the top ribbon, and then can access the data sources that are available to be used.
Choose from three available SharePoint data connectors.
Add your SharePoint URL.
Once you reached this step, you should be able to see three different types of SharePoint data connectors available;
Now select your object type and then add SharePoint URL to it.
Now select the relevant list or folder from the left menu. Putting your cursor on the display options, you can see the data preview in the Navigator’s window.
Before importing and loading your data into Power BI Desktop, you might want to shape or adjust your data. In fact, it is a great idea to edit a certain query before loading it, specifically when working with large data sets. This can be achieved by clicking on Edit and then selecting further adjustment options from the Query Editor.
Query Editor is designed to shape and adjust your data needs. For instance, to keep data that can produce impactful visuals while removing the irrelevant parts.
This can be done through the following steps;
You have the option of publishing your report in your workspace or in any of your Office 365 Group workspaces.
When you are done and satisfied adjusting your visuals, you can then publish your reports to Power BI Online, simply by clicking on the Publish button. In case, your Power BI is not activated within your MS Office 365, you will be then asked to activate it then and there.
You can find reports in the Grey Section, in the center of the left column, as soon as you log into your Power BI home-screen. You can also find the following section;
This step is very straightforward. All you need to do is to access your Power BI report and then click on the pin icon.
You can then create or choose the dashboard visuals that you want to be on.
This is a very important step; because your dashboards will never refresh if you don’t do it. Go to the section of Datasets and then click on the ‘…’ button, then you can now select and schedule your dashboard refresh. Here you will be given an option to defined refresh frequency and to enter your credentials.
Now, your dashboards are fully functional with automated dashboard refreshing features enabled; and these dashboards can be easily shared. However, if you have a designated workspace, you are required to grant access to your users. You can now connect them to Power BI Online or can send them through a URL. And you’re done.
Now that you have learnt how to set up a Power BI Dashboard by importing data from SharePoint, now let’s go another step ahead. Let’s bring Microsoft Flow into the mix now, but let’s learn about its background quickly.
MS Flow is a SaaS (Software as a Service) that automates workflow across multiple apps and services. These automated workflows are commonly called Flows, and they are triggered to perform automatically perform different actions when any specific event occurs. With MS Flow, you can now automate tasks such as synchronizing files, getting notifications, collecting data, and much more. Basically, MS Flow is a perfect way to automate repetitive and exhaustive tasks. With Microsoft Flow, you can easily automate tasks such as File Synchronization, Data Collection, Notifications, and much more.
In this case, we will be using MS Flow to collect SharePoint data for us, and then it can be sent to Power BI without writing a single line of code.