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Am I getting the most out of my Dashboards?

We already know that when a company has to decide whether to invest in a Business Intelligence project, it has to find the answers to all the questions that arise about its effectiveness: Are we really going to get anything out of it? Will it give us the information we need? Will it be beneficial for us? In many cases, it is difficult for companies to have the answer to all these questions, especially when we are in the early stages of the project.

However, when it is already working? Then, new questions arise: Yes, all these graphics are very good, but … do they really tell me what I want to know? Am I getting it right with these reports? Are they used within the company or is it just throwing money away? How can I really evaluate my BI project?

Faced with all this uncertainty, the company can see its confidence in the project diminished. Although you may find ways to verify its effectiveness, I certainly cannot think of a better way to measure it than the use made of it among the people who will make decisions within the organization. If within the company they are using the reports that we put at their disposal, it is evident that they are reporting the information they need and I can verify that I am on the right track.

Although it is true that in this way it cannot be measured until it is implemented, it can be said that it gives some peace of mind that I will be able to analyze it and that it will provide me with some capacity to react if I am wrong. We must bear in mind that a Business Intelligence project should never be considered as a finished project. This will always have an evolution and we have to have the possibility to measure it through the use of its Dashboards.

 

Widespread problem

Not long ago I found this problem in a real client: Suspecting that their company was not using the Power BI reports and dashboards that had been implemented, they wanted to have a wealth of information on its use. It is not difficult to imagine that it is a common problem in companies, that they have the need to know if the investment in the project is being used effectively by their employees.  Indeed, a BI project should be considered as an asset, but as long as we have the certainty that it is used and that it will yield benefits.  At this point, it seems essential to be able to monitor and audit the navigation through our Power BI Reports and Dashboards.

Microsoft Power BI currently has an information service for the use of its Dashboards, although it has some limitations: for example, it only contains information from the last 90 days or it is not possible to add its own information sources by which to size the data. In this particular case, these limitations turned out to be indispensable information for them. They concluded that they should adapt the audit of the usage of their reports to their particular needs.

So, is there any tool / solution to solve this problem? Indeed, there is.

 

Power BI (Audit) Usage Analytics

In this regard, SolidQ has developed a powerful tool through Power BI itself that gives abundant information on the use of the organization´s Dashboards and Reports.

Power BI Usage Analytics allows us to know, for example, whether a Dashboard is being used or not, if it is used a lot or a little, who uses them and at what times, what Workspace is used more, as well as compare uses of Reports / Dashboards between several dates, etc. That is, a fundamental information to measure the use of Power BI within the organization. This is going to give you evident proof of where we are right now and where we are failing and, in addition, it will allow you to improve it, replace it or simply eliminate it.

However, let us go into detail and see how it works.

How it works

Connected to a database in Azure, it automatically and incrementally loads all the usage audit information associated with the organization’s office 365 user accounts through a PowerShell script. This data extraction can be configured to be performed with the regularity that is decided. In this way, we can have all the updated usage information available.

Starting from this Database as a source, initially, we have a report that will give us the following information through 4 tabs:

 

 Operations

Here you will find general information about the operations carried out by the users. We have, in the left column, 2 filters (by User and by date range) to be able to refine report data.

The central column shows in the upper part the total number of operations and in the lower part a table with the details of the operations carried out, with the user who performed it and the name of the report. On the right, we have 3 graphs, which analyze:

  • A list of the Top 7 users who have carried out the most operations.
  • At the bottom right, the total number of operations performed per date.
  • At the bottom left, a count of operations performed.

 Activities

This page goes into more detail about the activities carried out by the users: What are these activities, where do they take place, which users are those who carry out those activities more or if they are external users of the company or not? It also has a date range filter to narrow down the information according to the timescales we need.

In the central column, we have detailed information about the Datasets used. On the right, there is a bar graph with the count of users by activity and at the bottom, there are two circular graphs: one on the origin of the activities carried out (internal or external) and the second to know if the activities have been carried out with a Public or Private IP.

 

 Activity

On this page, we can see a radar chart that shows the operations carried out and at what times they are carried out.

 We can interactively refine the graphic with the filters included in the left part of the page (by date, User, and Operation). We also have a table in the central column that details the operations of the users, the hours dedicated and a total of hours.

 

 Comparatives

In this tab, we have comparisons of operations carried out in the current year with those of the previous year.

In the central column, we see the total of operations carried out each year. It also maintains the count of hours dedicated by each user to an activity. On the right side, there are 2 bar graphs distributed by months in order to compare data between the same months in both years.

A recommended tool

In short, this tool will allow us to assess the usage of our Dashboards and Reports thoroughly. We will be able to certify their effectiveness.

If these initial reports and give us fairly extensive information on their use, no less interesting are the many important advantages that the tool offers:

  • Although they depend on the information on user accounts provided by Microsoft, it will allow us to incorporate our own or external data sources, enabling further enhancement of the information.
  • There is no time limit for the data. You can preserve historical data.
  • They are interactive, user-friendly reports that allow a smooth navigation.
  • And most importantly: There is the possibility of adapting it to the company´s needs.

In short, a highly recommended tool that SolidQ offers individually or through several Star Packages.

You can request a personalized no-obligation quote at the SQL Query Analytics official site.

Tarsicio del Pozo Mazo

Tarsicio del Pozo Mazo

Data Platform Engineer, Business Intelligence at SolidQ
Tarsicio del Pozo Mazo

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