Project managers spend a lot of time gathering data before they can create insights. Every part of a project creates data that they should record and test. Delivering accurate information is challenging without the help of business intelligence tools.

That’s where Power BI comes in. Microsoft Power BI is a great data visualization tool that helps you see your data in a variety of ways. You can find patterns, examine trends and interpret data to make informed decisions. The best part is that you don’t need coding or statistical skills to use Power BI.

What you need to know is how you can take advantage of its features for your next project. This guide will give you a rundown of Power BI for project management, including the versions you can use.

Microsoft Power BI and Its Components

If you search for Power BI, you’ll notice other software and applications popping up. That’s because this Microsoft program consists of different software services, applications, and connectors. They help convert unrelated data sources into logical, visually engaging, and interactive insights.

Microsoft’s software helps you gather, analyze, and turn data into useful information. These insights are often presented in visually appealing and easy-to-understand charts and graphs.  As a result, you can make faster and more informed decisions based on this information.

So, if you want to know if your two data sets are related, you can use a combo chart in Power BI. This visual summarizes the relationship of data sets in one visualization. This will save you more space on the canvas since it combines the two charts. Not only that but it also reveals the outliers in your data set.

These visuals are useful in Power BI reports and dashboards to help you grasp complicated data. Understanding how you can create charts like the combo chart can help you do more in Power BI. 

Key Components of Power BI

You need to know what services Power BI offers before building your first report. You’ll notice that some of these concepts are also used in Excel. If you’re not familiar with these terms, have a look at Microsoft’s glossary for Power BI users.

Power Query

Power Query is a component in Power BI that helps you import and clean data. Before it gets loaded into the report area, you need to import and alter it using the Power Query editor. You can also::

  • Insert or delete rows and columns
  • Merge or break up rows or columns 
  • Delete any null values or rows containing blank values

The changes you made in the Power Query editor do not affect your dataset.

Power Pivot

Power Pivot is a tool you can use to construct data models and do computations. Power BI uses Data Analysis Expressions (DAX), which work like Excel functions, to compute data. It has over 200 operations, such as sum, average, and count.

Power View

Power BI lets you access data visualizations in other Microsoft programs. This is all thanks to its feature, Power View. You can see charts, graphs, and other visuals in programs like SharePoint and Excel. This makes your work as a project manager easier.

Power BI Report

Power BI report is a set of visuals that are spread across numerous pages. Reports are limited to one dataset or data model. If you have different data sources, you can combine them into a single report in Power BI.

These reports are interactive wherein you can filter, slice, and drill them down. It also features automatic refresh, where it updates all graphics in a report at a set interval. You can have the report updated every hour or when you change anything in the data.

Power BI Dashboard

A Power BI dashboard is a one-page overview of your data that includes visuals. Each tile is linked to an underlying report, allowing you to drill down for more information as needed. A dashboard can link to many reports. This gives you easy access and viewing of all of your data in one spot.

Why Should You Use Power BI for Project Management?

Power BI is your best option if you’re looking for more reporting and analytical power than Excel. It processes data in one place, giving you a better understanding of your operations and performance. 

Aside from these, other benefits of using Power BI for project management include:

  • You can input massive amounts of data that other platforms have a hard time handling
  • It has built-in machine learning tools that help you analyze data, detect patterns and make smart predictions
  • There are available templates to help you visualize insights and understand your data 
  • Power BI is a cloud-based service that lets you access data and use up-to-date algorithms
  • It has customization features that you can use on dashboards to get the data you need
  • You can set up alerts on your KPIs to keep know about important metrics and data

Different Versions of Power BI Available

There are several versions of Power BI available. Whichever you choose is based on your budget, needs, and how you want to use it. These versions range from basic to advanced and have free and premium options. You can choose the one that best suits your needs.

  1. Power BI Desktop

Power BI Desktop (Power BI Free) is a free desktop program that you can install on your computer. It complements the Power BI Service with data exploration, modeling, report generation, and visuals. You can save your work to a file and share your data and results with others by publishing them to your Power BI site.

The following are its best features:

  • You can connect to data sources with no limitations
  • You have 10GB of total cloud storage
  • You can generate reports on your computer
  • You can export files to CSV and PDF format
  1. Power BI Service

Compared to Power BI Desktop, this version is cloud-based. You need a license to get this version of Power BI:

  • Free License – With this license, you can use the “My Workspace” area to work on reports and visuals. You can also access any reports that have been shared with you.
  • Power BI Pro License – This license allows you to share your dashboards and publish material to other workspaces. The subscription costs $9.99 per month.
  1. Power BI Mobile

Power BI Mobile is the mobile app for Power BI. You can get this version if you have a  Windows, iOS, or Android operating system on your phone.

In this version, you can have secure access to real-time dashboards and reports. This is regardless of whether you have the data in the cloud or in SQL Server. You can also generate and share reports, make natural language queries, and receive personal data alerts.

  1. Power BI Report Server

Power BI Report Server is a server solution that comes with Power BI Premium. This version lets you use Power BI on-premise. Sometimes, your company does not let you upload data to the cloud. It may be because of data privacy restrictions that apply to their sector. Some companies also lack the infrastructure or connection that lets them access SaaS services.

Whichever problem your company has, Power BI Report Server is here to help you. You can install this version behind a firewall, allowing you to migrate to a cloud-based version. 

Report Server offers comparable functionality to Power BI Service, but mostly in report creation. It lacks a few essential features that are only available in the cloud-based version. This includes dashboards, content packs, natural language queries, and real-time streaming.

Final Thoughts

Current technology makes every project manager’s job easier. But, to take advantage of such technology as Power BI, you need to know a thing or two. By enrolling in different training, you can get the right skills to land you many opportunities as a project manager.

Power BI is an amazing and strong business intelligence product that will be here for a long time. It has proven its worth in providing great data visualization for project managers. It connects hundreds of data sources instantly, giving the data life through rich reports.