Dashboard Week - Day 5: Adventures in Power BI

by Ross Easton

For the final day of our dashboard week we were set a new challenge – to make a dashboard in Power BI. I had never even seen anyone use this software before, but have been excited to try it for a while. So this was always going to be an interesting morning.

As it was it was somewhat frustrating. Knowing what I would do and how I would do it in Tableau, but trying to replicate that in a software I didn’t know meant it took me so long to do even the simplest of actions. But there were some aspects of the software I liked – particularly the aesthetics of it as the dashboards it produces look quite sharp.

Our data for today was a simple and clean dataset for a grocery store with which we had to make a simple KPI business dashboard.

Initially it was very confusing as the interface is somewhat opposite to what I’m used to, and I found myself just exploring the interface for a while to get to grips with what I was doing.

Then I began to use the questions tool (something they don’t have in tableau desktop which was actually a very interesting way of going about building charts) to explore the data and learn how to make charts.

Exploring with the questions tool

After a while of making horrible looking charts I began to understand a little better how to make them, and moved away from the questions tool in favour of simply building out the visuals myself.

Towards the end I even started to introduce myself to the ‘slicer’ tool (basically just a filter) and got to grips with the more aesthetic parts to the software to try and manage the colour and look of my design.

All in all an interesting day. Not my favourite dashboard I have ever built, but definitely an interesting experience to try out a new software and see what I could do with it. Hopefully as I get used to Power BI more the frustration I feel using it will wane a little.

Today’s Dashboard

Interactive Link: https://app.powerbi.com/groups/me/reports/2a3324b6-535f-4255-8bea-104ca1e518c0/ReportSection

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