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Simplifying Data Reporting with Power BI: A Real-World Solution

Updated: Jul 15

rofessional analyzing business analytics on a Mac with Power BI dashboard visible

In the world of business, data reporting can often feel like a chore, especially when the process is clunky and manual. Our client was no stranger to this frustration, struggling with an outdated system before transitioning to data reporting with Power BI. They were previously stuck using an on-premise Microsoft Reporting Services connected to a database that was manually updated from Excel files. The updating process was heavily reliant on one key IT staff member. If that person was unavailable, the reports just didn't get updated. This was far from ideal, as their job responsibilities didn't always allow them the time to manage these updates promptly, often pushing this task to after-hours.


So, who needed these reports? Surprisingly, just a handful of people—about 20 in the company—used these reports to analyze employee travel expenses. Interestingly, two of those 20 were the ones creating the Excel files in the first place! The reports needed to be secure and customized so that each person could only see certain expense levels, depending on their responsibilities. All this user access control was managed through SQL scripting, adding another layer of complexity.



The Shift to a Simpler System


When our client moved to Power BI Cloud, it opened the door to a more streamlined and effective solution. We suggested starting with a basic but powerful change: using SharePoint for uploading the raw Excel files. We even helped them strip out existing calculations from these files to later add them directly in Power BI.


We integrated the system with the company’s Active Directory, which along with Power BI’s Role Level Security (RLS), allowed us to automate user access controls based on existing company roles. Furthermore, we leveraged Power Automate to refresh the dataset as soon as a new file was uploaded to SharePoint. This meant no more waiting for manual updates!


Conclusion: Keep It Simple


Our solution was grounded in understanding the core problem and scaling the solution to be as simple as possible for the users. We transitioned from a system that required a highly skilled role performing repetitive tasks to one where users could manage on their own intuitively and transparently. By utilizing existing structures like SharePoint and Power BI Cloud, applying robust security with RLS, and eliminating the overqualified SQL database setups, we not only simplified the process but also aligned it more closely with the company’s needs.


This shift not only made the reporting process more efficient but also freed up valuable IT resources, allowing staff to focus on more strategic tasks rather than routine report updates.


At Cenit Solutions, our goal is always to elevate the performance and efficiency of our clients' operations. We leverage our expertise to implement solutions that are not only effective but also simplify and enhance the daily workflows of businesses. Embrace simplicity with Cenit, and reach the zenith of your business potential.

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