Is anyone else just getting asked to replicate Excel files/tables in PBI?

Perhaps I don’t understand the true purpose or power of MSPBI, but recently every request has been something like, “oh can you take this table and just make it in PBI?” And now it’s progressed to “can you replicate this tab (with a lot calculations) in PBI?”

In the second case, the end result always seems achievable (a waterfall for example) but the getting there currently relies on an immense amount of excel cell by cell math.

Trying to determine if I’m just being negative / can’t solve the problem or if this is truly an overextension if PowerBI’s capabilities and purpose.

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7 responses on "Is anyone else just getting asked to replicate Excel files/tables in PBI?"

  1. Yep, this is my life.

    However, at least we can now triage long-tables-of-data reports into Power BI Report Builder. I leave Power BI Desktop purely for visual reports, e.g., waterfall charts.

  2. This is always the first request we get from groups we just started using Power BI. Create a report that displays the same information, but hide that information in a drilldown and put a dynamic, slicer-enabled summary page on top of it. Those calculations they are doing on the data almost always fit better on visuals, not a table. If you can integrate trends over time even better.

  3. Yes this was one of the “low hanging fruit” we used powerbi for. Instead of someone manually making a big complicated spreadsheet compiling multiple sources every month, do it in powerbi on demand. Instead of writing an application to create a spreadsheet in code and email it out, use power bi and they can get it whenever they want.

  4. Maybe you could dig deeper into what they are trying to achieve and suggest better ways to use PBI?

  5. This is where we started, quite deliberately. Why? It gives users access to all the data right away. It enables users to validate the accuracy of the data. And, it provides a quick tool for ad hoc queries in terms of: oh yeah, you can get that in pbi now. After some time, I’m now able to get into the cool stuff.

  6. Absolutely, and sometimes I have to admit that decades of training to read excel formatted data feels comforting in power BI. I have most of the control over my final dashboards though so I try to avoid this in final forms. But even I use them constantly to troubleshoot weird visuals.

  7. I work in IT as a Business Analyst and every time I have met with an internal customer for a BI-related project where right off the bat they wanted an excel file basically “converted” into an SSRS/Power BI report, I always try to get them to think differently about it by asking them to imagine back when cars where first introduced and it being akin to a person wanting their wagon that was previously pulled by horses to be hooked up instead to the back of the car.

    Yes, it probably would get you to your destination faster and more efficiently than previously and is an improvement but it’s not designed for it either and by forcing that from the outset, you’d be losing out on all the other capabilities. To me that’s the perfect time to re-evaluate everything including the process itself. The goal is not to “create or replicate” a spreadsheet…..the goal should be to provide answers and insight that you never could do previously and always push the forward with continuous improvement/refinement.

    Sadly, I’ve seen developers fall into that cycle too and I guess from their perspective either they just accepted the client really knew what they wanted/needed or they weren’t close enough to business process to disagree or worse they just didn’t care enough to push back in any degree and sell them on better solutions.

    One time, I got pulled in on a BI project where they were recreating SAP BW reports in SSAS tabular models and after getting about halfway through (of almost 200+ reports), I asked the BW developer if he could run something showing how frequently his reports had been ran historically, by which groups/users, date of last run, etc. Probably less than 50% had even been ran in the previous year….there were dozens of reports that had NEVER been ran a single time in their existence. Yet the business came in and saying “replicate ALL of our reports” and the BI group just accepted it and started grinding away.

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