As I revise for the MB2-718 exam (Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service) I’m creating blog posts detailing all aspects of my revision. I hope these posts will aid anyone who is also revising for this exam. In this post I will review Power BI dashboards.
You can see the skills measured statement below and the reference to creating Power BI dashboards in the “Performance service management analysis” section.
Note: Power BI is a big topic! In this post I will only be scratching the surface of its capabilities. I therefore strongly recommend you spend some hands-on time working with the product as part of your revision.
What is Power BI?
I guess a good place to start will be with a simple question. “What is Power BI?“. For the answer I turned to what looked like a useful source of information …… https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/what-is-power-bi/
By looking at this link I found this definition of what Power BI is (plus a useful graphic);
“Power BI is a suite of business analytics tools to analyze data and share insights. Power BI dashboards provide a 360-degree view for business users with their most important metrics in one place, updated in real time, and available on all of their devices. With one click, users can explore the data behind their dashboard using intuitive tools that make finding answers easy. Creating a dashboard is simple, thanks to hundreds of connections to popular business applications, complete with prebuilt dashboards to help you get up and running quickly. And you can access your data and reports from anywhere with the Power BI Mobile apps, which update automatically with any changes to your data.”
From the definition above I hope you can see that Power BI isn’t just about reporting Dynamics 365 data. It can work with datasets from a very wide variety of sources.
But from a Dynamics 365 point of view Power BI can be used to transform data into “rich visuals”. Meaning it is a powerful graphical reporting tool that can greatly extend the standard reporting features of Dynamics 365.
To access Power BI, goto …. https://powerbi.microsoft.com
Initially your screen will look something like this, if you already have an account simply click “Sign In”. If not click “START FREE” or “Sign Up free” and register.
After a short pause you will be welcomed to Power Bi and given options to open content pack library or import / connect to data.
Initially select Get under services then select the Services option. You will find numerous apps for Power BI listed. Including “Sales Analytics for Dynamics 365”, “Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Social Engagement” and many more.
As we are revising for a customer service exam, I suggest selecting “Customer Service Analytics for Dynamics 365“. Locate it and simply click Get it now. (Although I also recommend you experiment with the other Power BI apps, when you install multiples apps you’ll end up with a workspace for each!)
After a short pause you will be prompted fort the URL corresponding to you Dynamics 365 online service.
Next you will need to sign in. Notice that I changed the authentication method to “oAuth2”.
After another pause you will see a prompt that says Importing Data, this could take a while! Not long after this the dashboard may load but could have no data. Give it chance! What’s happening at this point, is a copy of your sales data is being created to support the analysis that Power BI will conduct. (This is important to realize as you may need to refresh this data later.)
After a few more seconds the dashboard will be loaded, as shown below. Notice in the navigation side bar that I have access to the main areas of Power BI, including Workspaces, Dashboards, Reports and Datasets.
In my example below you can see that I have two dashboards, reports etc. Initially you may only have one of each . I have added the sales analytics for Dynamcis 365 in addition customer service analytics. You can use the “Get Data” option to add additional Power BI apps as required. These maybe additional reporting packs, such as Sales Analytics for Dynamics 365 or they could be for data from a multitude of other data sources.
Datasets are used to build reports. And then dashboards contain visual representations from reports.
Hands on time is essential at this point!
You may want to experiment with the “Ask a question about your data” option. As this will allow you to use natural language phrases to search / filter your data.
Another aspect on the dashboards you might want to experiment with is the concept of focus mode. Clicking the “…” menu on the dashboard tiles will let you enter focus mode. You can then use filtering to control what is shown. Additionally in this menu you will also find other useful options such as export to excel.
Clicking on something within the dashboard will allow you to drill into the underlying report detail behind that tile on the dashboard.
Obviously, I hope, you will immediately start to notice that there are many different chart types and data representations available in Power BI. Including tiles that show a single number but support drill in, water fall charts (for example the one used for cases resolved by day) and even graphical representations on maps.
It maybe important to know that the datasets used to create a Power BI dashboard may need to be refreshed. There are a few ways to do this!
Below you can see that I have clicked on the workspaces option. And then selected datasets. I then have two options to refresh the data now or schedule a data refresh. (Commonly this type of reporting data will be refreshed daily.)
One important thing that might be worth knowing for your revision is that the datasets in Power BI do not have some of the limitations we might hit when working with data in Dynamics 365 or Excel. Within Dynamics 365 you will find that limits exist on the number of rows that can be exported to Excel or the number of rows that can render on a chart. Power BI is a useful tool if you need to work around these limitations.
In this post I am not going to attempt to explain all of the flexibility we have available to allow us to modify datasets, reports and dashboards! But you should be aware that we can add fields, alter reports etc etc. I would suggest you try to at least become familiar with some of the concepts behind creating / enhancing datasets, reports and dashboards. Microsoft actually publish some great getting started guides. You can view those here.
Adding Power BI Visuals to Dynamics 365
It is even possible to show Power BI dashboards directly in Dynamics 365.To enable this feature your administrator must have selected the option to allow Power BI visualization embedding, as shown below.
Once enabled when creating user dashboards an option will exist to add Power BI visualizations.
Below you can see that I have selected which Power BI dashboard I wish to use and then selected the visualization (or tile) I require from that dashboard. (Also note that these can be enabled for mobile.)
Below you can see I have created a simple dashboard to show this capability. As each “tile” on the Dynamics 365 dashboard can connect to a different visualization from a different Power BI dashboard, I really like the way I could show tiles for sales and service (etc.) all in one location.
Additionally clicking on any of the tiles shown from Power BI will automatically drill into the Power BI report behind that tile. Therefore we can seamlessly integrate Power BI visualizations and reports directly into the web client and mobile clients of Dynamics 365.
In terms of MB2-718 revision, in my opinion, Power BI more than any feature is best understood by using the product. I hope this post has given you enough pointers to get started with that. Enjoy.