Power BI is an excellent tool for local councils to visualise and analyse their data. It’s flexible, powerful and user friendly. However, a side to Power BI that is not often discussed is configuration. The Power BI service, where reports are shared and consumed, needs to be configured correctly to ensure the data is secure and the reports are accessible. Additionally, it’s really important that the data the reports are built on is well understood and trusted. Data that can’t be trusted will mean largely worthless reports at the end.
Securing Your Environment: Proper Configuration of Power BI Tenant Settings
First and foremost, data security is imperative for any organisation but especially local councils. Sensitive data, such as personal information, vulnerable persons and financial information is handled by the council regularly and must be secure. Power BI Tenant Settings need to be configured correctly to secure the environment. One tenant setting allows the publishing of Power BI reports to the web, allowing anyone with the URL to access that information. As a start this one must be turned off! But there are many more that need to be configured correctly to ensure the data contained within Power BI is secure.
Making Power BI Accessible
Another challenge is making Power BI reports accessible to all stakeholders. Councils work with a diverse range of stakeholders, each with different needs and requirements when it comes to accessing reports. Therefore, councils need to configure Power BI to ensure reports are accessible to all stakeholders in a format that works for them.
Proper workspace structure is essential to ensure stakeholders have access to the right reports in a secure and organised manner. Workspaces also serve as the platform that Power BI Apps are then published from, which is the recommended method by which stakeholders consume reports. Access to Workspaces and Apps are controlled through role-based access control and ensure stakeholders only have access to reports that are relevant to them.
Developing a good workspace structure for the council, based on department, for example, can make the process of consuming reports much simpler, increasing engagement and enabling stakeholders to find the insights they are interested in.
Understanding and Integrating Data
Finally, one of the significant challenges councils face is understanding their data. To get the most out of Power BI, councils must have a solid understanding of their data sources and how to integrate them into Power BI. For example, a Power BI Gateway might be needed so the reports can be on a scheduled refresh. Understanding the data can also mean taking a step back to identify where the data for reporting comes from and if best practice has been followed in the creation of any existing reports or datasets. Understanding the data is critical so that the reports produced from it, the insights can be trusted and therefore the correct actions are taken.
Overcoming configuration challenges
We can assist with all the challenges outlined above through our Power BI Assessment. We run workshops to help identify current Power BI progress including setup, licensing, existing reports, and datasets. Additionally, determining the future aspirations of the council, where they would like to be with Power BI and how they would like to work with Power BI as well.
From this, in communication with the council, produce a design document that will cover everything from workspace structure, security and tenant settings all aligned to the councils aspirations with actionable outcomes. As part of this Simpson Associates, can assist with the implementation of the design in the document and offer Power BI Administration training as well. This ensures all the recommendations are delivered and that the knowledge to maintain them going forward is within the council.
In conclusion, configuring Power BI for local councils requires a strategic approach. With the right Power BI Tenant settings and workspace structures in place, councils can ensure data accuracy, consistency, and security across their organization, ensuring data-driven decision-making are more effective and efficient. By understanding data sources, implementing appropriate security measures, and making reports accessible and easy to use for all stakeholders, councils can make the most out of Power BI to achieve their goals.
Alex Duff, Senior Consultant – Simpson Associates
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