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Harnessing the power of Power BI

Revenues, expenses, sales pipeline, budgets, and the list goes on and on of numbers and figures that are important for managers and business owners to base their decisions. The problem is that these numbers are rarely accessible in one convenient place. Revenues and expenses are likely kept in an accounting solution, such as QuickBooks, the sales pipeline, if tracked at all, will be in a customer relationship manager, and the budget may just be a spreadsheet kept on the owner’s computer. Sifting through this web of data to get needed information can add hours of work to an already overcrowded workweek.

Great news! Sifting through this web of data to get information no longer has to be the case. Thanks to Microsoft’s Power BI platform and its ability to plug into various programs combined with streaming data sets, this information can now be at one’s figure tips at a moment’s notice.

Once Power BI is connected to the data sources, a dashboard can be created to contain whatever information is pertinent. Not only does this dashboard have the information, but it can also present it in a way that is more helpful than just a number. Through graphs, charts, maps and other features, Power BI gives the numbers context. It allows for trends, both positive or negative, to be identified, or it can show how the sales of two different products or product lines are doing simultaneously. In essence, it helps managers and business owners to be more proactive decision makers.

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For example, the amount of potential sales in the sales pipeline is a static number on any given day. However, charting this number over time, the context provided is not only helpful, it can also help predict the future of the business. Examining a trend and making predictions to compare against results creates a complete feedback look in your business.

Here is how to harness the power of a clear feedback loop. A pipeline that is consistently growing larger over time, would tend to predict strong future sales growth. Knowing this would allow an owner make changes necessary to handle the larger volume of business. Once the changes are made, the impact on your business would be measured using similar tools to know how the changes you made impact the results.

The opposite is also true, say there is a steady decline in the pipeline, indicating a downturn in revenue. Seeing this trend would all a manager to take corrective action, before it is too late. Whether that be increasing the marketing budget to generate more leads or adjusting staffing to survive a slower season. Once again, the results of this decisions should be monitored to create the feedback loop.

Making decisions can be one of the most stressful aspects of any managers’ or owners’ day, week or year, especially when there is uncertainty involved. With tools like Power BI, we can help remove some of this uncertainty and therefore mitigating risk, reducing uncertainty, and increasing profits in the long term.