Millions of users have adopted Microsoft's widespread business analytics platform and are seeing their businesses transformed. Over the past three years, we’ve learned a few tips on how to optimize your teams Power BI training and deployment. Below are 10 Tips for Power BI Training, that will immediately empower your users.
- Leverage Free Community Resources
There is a wealth of tremendous Power BI training resources in the market. The Power Community is filled with subject matter experts, bloggers, and YouTube channels. We've created this Power BI Library to pull together all of our favorite training resources from around the community. When you're ready to take the next step, try our Power BI Co-Development with a BI pro.
- Train with Your Own Data
Perhaps the best thing you can do from day 1 is train with your own data. Build a sandbox and fill it with your own data and your own business problems. Challenges your teams are passionate about. Then allow your team to get their hands dirty, explore and make mistakes. Most Power BI training is built around mock datasets, so don't let that stifle your teams learning.
- Download Power BI Desktop
If you take nothing else away from this article, I hope you download Power BI Desktop. This is the Free Power BI Download of Microsoft's business analytics, that will allow you to connect to any data set you want to and start building.
- Embrace the Success Stories
Microsoft has an entire Data Stories Gallery dedicated to displaying the top Power BI Dashboards from around the community. Including this inspiration for all those who are struggling in their Fantasy Football League. Organizations who have taken data visualization to the next level and most organizations are encouraging their users to push the boundaries. Don't try and recreate the wheel, allow yourself to be inspired by the dozens of others who have already created what you hope to build.
- Join a Power BI Community
As soon as you enter in, you'll realize you're part of a global analytics community. Find a local meetup, and encounter other users who solved the same problem yesterday, that you are facing today. It's a rich community, full of end-users eager to showcase their success.
- Empower your Excel Users
Hands down, Excel has been the #1 business intelligence tool for 20+ years. In just 3 years Power BI has become a leader in business intelligence, according to Gartner. In large part, because of all the Excel users who are embracing the tool. Excel users have accepted its limitations and wondered if Microsoft would introduce something more powerful. Power BI's user-interface was designed with the Excel power user in mind.
- Rome Wasn't Built In A Day
I'm willing to guess that you didn't learn PowerPivot, PowerQuery, and v-lookups in a day, you're not going to become a Power BI expert in a day either. Don't allow yourself to become discouraged, push through the learning curve and you'll be glad you did.
- Invest a Little
Power BI isn't terribly expensive. But prepare to invest a little, when the time is right. Tap into your training budget or even your consulting budget to when you feel like your team is ready. 1-week of co-development with a true data architect early on in the learning process can be more valuable and much more cost effective than hiring a consultant for 6-months when the reports start breaking.
- Rethink Your Model
If you've spent a decade cobbling everything together in an Excel spreadsheet, I challenge you to rethink your model. With Power BI you're no longer limited to the constraints of Excel but have access to all the modeling capabilities of a real data architect.
- Let yourself Dream A Little
Power BI isn't just a reporting tool. It's an enterprise business analytics platform, with robust capabilities to connect directly to your Hadoop Clusters, Data Lakes and Azure IoT eco-system. Imagine a Power BI dashboard, refreshing in real-time, and sending mobile alerts when your inventory is low. Maybe you want a single dashboard to monitor all your marketing intelligence across ten platforms, or real-time sales data from locations around the world to share with your team? These things are happening today, and those users started with the same simple steps outlined in this blog.
- IT is not the bad guy
This is really a just a bonus tip, but important nonetheless. When corporate IT comes to “take over” your report and “lock it down” in a cube, remember IT isn’t the bad guy. Let me translate what IT is really trying to say, “thanks for building an amazing report that is providing the executive team with valuable insight. You saved us hours of requirements gathering. We just want to ensure this secure and scalable so even more users can benefit from this incredible Power BI report.” Who knew corporate IT could be so pleasant.
Robert Gerads is Director of Business Development at Beyond Impact,
a Microsoft Gold Partner and consulting firm focused on Cloud, Data, and Analytics.
He is also the founder of the local Power BI Meetup, that meets monthly.