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Avoid These 10 Power BI Mistakes

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

Power BI is bringing the power of data to business users more and more, but you may need more safeguards to get the most out of it. These are the most typical mistakes made by businesses.

As a leading business intelligence tool, Power BI provides business users with the power and flexibility they need to work with data. The Microsoft product has a growing variety of AI features from Excel connection to business reporting that make acquiring deeper insights easier.

However, because Power BI has so much power and many features, you'll need to know how to use it to get the most out of it. These are some of the most common mistakes businesses make when using Power BI and how to avoid them.

Using Power BI to its full potential

Power BI, like Excel, has a broad user base due to its capabilities. There's probably already more consumption in your company than you're aware of. Allowing users to figure out how to get the most out of Power BI on their own may not get the most out of it. Worse, you can wind up with so much data uploaded (and replicated by multiple employees), and so many data artefacts created that no one knows who's doing what or where the useful reports are.

Instead, manage and recommend reliable data sets to simplify consumers' to access useful information. Provide training and consider establishing a centre of excellence with BI architects, data experts, and others who can effectively assist business users in using Power BI. You could even want to prevent them from posting data until they've received some Power BI training to assist them in gaining the most value while avoiding the mess.

Data security is overlooked

Your company's most valuable data may be proprietary, and its use will almost certainly need to be audited. Turn on Microsoft Information Protection connection to manage and track data usage as well as govern how it's used, even if it's exported from Power BI to Excel.


The key to a successful Power BI implementation is striking the correct mix between user empowerment and effective governance. Locking down usage to only a few business analysts or data scientists who will look at the data and offer formal advice is a sure way to fail. You probably won't be able to find enough of those specialists, and far more employees in your business are likely to be data literate enough to use Power BI to uncover useful insights that will allow them to adapt to changing conditions based on data rather than hunches.

Don't try to regulate Power BI usage so tightly that you get in their way; instead, provide Microsoft Power BI training and good examples to help people get the most out of it.

Assuming that your back-end system is capable of handling DirectQuery

It can be quite useful not to replicate data into Power BI to work with it, but you must ensure that your back-end system can take the demand. Microsoft recommends a response time of less than 5 seconds for a typical aggregate query, but remember to double that by the number of graphics in reports. If there are ten or twenty visuals in a report, loading it will create ten or twenty queries, which means consumers will have to wait one or two minutes for the report to load.

Ignoring the results

When considering the value of business intelligence, it's easy to focus on the intelligence — the insights that can be obtained from high-quality data when asked the proper questions — rather than the business – the reality that executives will utilize the tools and act on the findings. However, you must also ensure that the fundamentals are correct: People will not use it unless reports load rapidly and interactive visuals load quickly.

According to Microsoft, effective Power BI adoptions are highly linked to good report performance, and failure to pay attention to report performance is the leading cause of business intelligence project failure.

To better analyze and enhance how queries and reports run, use Power BI Desktop's Query Diagnostics and Performance Analyzer tools (SQL Server Profiler can also be useful for finding out which queries cause bottlenecks). To investigate your telemetry, you can utilize Azure Log Analytics with Power BI Premium. Start by looking at the built-in Usage Metrics report to identify which reports are the most popular and ensure they are well optimized. Suppose Power BI is receiving low satisfaction scores from users. In that case, Microsoft will notify you (in an anonymized report), recommend which reports are causing issues, and, for the largest customers, provide free advice to help you optimize those reports.

Putting too much emphasis on visuals

As the cliché goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and Power BI excels at showing you a visual that explains what's going on inside your data. However, not every image is valuable; too many charts and visualizations can create visual clutter, making it difficult to identify the most significant metrics. They also generate a large number of queries, which might cause report performance to suffer. Find the correct visuals for each report that focus on the most critical facts, or use AI visuals like Key Influencers to automatically find the most important data.

Using mobile devices ineffectively

Not everyone who will benefit from Power BI works at a desk, and avoiding cluttered reports is especially critical when the insights are intended to assist frontline workers. The Power BI Mobile app and embedding report into Power Apps or creating OKR boards and scorecards with notifications for specific targets that employees can see no matter where they are can help here.

With an AR view that pins reports to tangible objects, the mobile app will use spatial anchors to bring data and reports to the physical location where they are generated in the future. This could include seeing the state of use for exercise equipment in a gym, sales figures for products on a supermarket shelf, throughput and other statistics for machinery on a factory floor, or cars at a dealership: anything where having the right data readily available could assist you in making the best decision.

Incremental updates and aggregations not being used

With connection packs from a wide range of data sources and a gateway for on-premises data, loading data into Power BI to take advantage of the high-performance query engine is a breeze. Users will usually reload all of the data every day to ensure that they are up to date, but there is no need to refresh old data that hasn't changed.

You can speed up refreshes by using incremental updates, which only load modified data and reduce stress on the back-end server. To speed up reports and lessen the demand on the external system you're querying, enable aggregations in DirectQuery that automatically preload and aggregate data in a cache.

DAX is being overlooked; or its performance

Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) are strong functions that allow you to perform advanced analysis by using complicated filters, conditional logic, and aggregations. Poorly written DAX functions can also cause reports to run slowly and use resources. Use the Power BI Performance Analyzer to identify DAX measures that could be improved, and make sure you have the resources and training to assist users master DAX.

Not fostering a data-driven culture

The most effective Power BI implementations make data tools available to a wide spectrum of employees, not just those who deal with data. However, this necessitates making it second nature for your business users to make decisions based on data.

To do this, you must cultivate a data culture in which, as Microsoft Analytics CTO Amir Netz puts it, "every conversation begins with what the data says, and every recommendation includes what the data support." It makes a significant difference to switch from what you think and who you know to what you know and what the facts are saying. A data culture transforms an organization from one that operates on hunches and who speaks louder or has more power to one that is objective, continuously looking at and measuring itself, and continually optimizing to get better results."

View part of our Building A Data Literate Culture In Your Organization webinar - "What are the Data Personas In Data Literacy Culture?"

If you enjoy analyzing data and using Power BI to discover and unlock data insights, this Microsoft Power BI certification could be the ideal Power BI credential for you—especially if you use those insights to provide easy-to-understand data visualizations that can help drive the success of your team and organization.


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