Business Central Power BI Pitfalls: A Deep Dive into Everyday User Challenges

October 26, 2023
7 min read

As executives and managers seek to gain meaningful data and answers from their business process management system, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, they are increasingly turning to Power BI.  

With over 5 million users and counting, Power BI is one of the most sought-after business intelligence (BI) and data analytics platforms on the market today. Designed for speed, ease, and collaboration, its interactive dashboards and reports significantly enhance an organization’s capacity to explore data and support decision-making.  

In a previous blog about Power BI integration for Business Central, the data specialists here at Cosmos discussed the four main limitations of using it: from complex native data modeling to limited sharing and performance issues. In this article, we’ll explain how these challenges actually impact the everyday business user, and more importantly, how you can overcome them to utilize Power BI productively.

Understanding the Typical Business Central and Power BI User

The ordinary business user we are referring to is someone who needs to use, interact, and consume data from Business Central through Power BI on a regular basis to make profitable, efficient decisions or assess performance and trends for strategic planning. Someone like the CFO assessing financial standings, a sales rep analyzing purchasing data, the human resources manager tasked with exploring new hires for the year, or the marketing manager in charge of building a market share dashboard.   

When we talk about business users, we are not referencing a Business Central or Power BI administrator, for example, who applies their extensive technical data science skills to manage and maintain databases or analytics platforms.  

As a platform intentionally designed for non-technical users, Power BI can be an incredible resource used by a wide range of roles from finance to operations. With that in mind, let’s talk about some of the problems that these non-technical users are experiencing when trying to access data from and build dashboards in Power BI.  

Also read: How to Easily Report from Business Central Extensions and Apps Data

The Most Common Obstacles of Using Power BI in Your Daily Life

It’s safe to say that any tool or technology you introduce into your business and expect employees to use regularly needs to be as easy to learn and use as possible. From ERP software to a POS system, software adoption can be compromised when an employee doesn’t understand the technology or how to integrate it into their daily job.  

In the case of Power BI, it’s often touted as a self-service reporting tool. What that should mean is that it’s relatively quick for business users to understand and optimize for using the platform on their own.  

But for the masses of Power BI users currently struggling, that’s not the case.  

While Power BI is indeed intuitive from an end-point dashboard building and analysis perspective, the requirements in getting there really prevent it from being a do-it-yourself solution for the standard business user. Here are some of the biggest challenges experienced by non-technical staff in their journey of learning and using Power BI:

  • Getting Past the Data Barrier

    The hardest part about using Power BI is the setup: importing, cleaning, and organizing your Business Central cloud data. You can’t start building impactful dashboards without first having your data optimized and structured for reporting, which most often is accomplished through complex coding, linking tables, or datasets – none of which the average user is familiar with. As a result, they simply can’t use Power BI until the source data setup is complete. Without consistent, accurate data ready to go, an executive, salesperson, or accountant will have the wind knocked out of their analytic and reporting sails before they can even begin.

    Also read: What is Cloud Reporting?
  • Navigating the IT Bottleneck

    When you can’t make sense of the underlying data structure in Power BI, and you don’t understand the data language or taxonomy, you can’t build your own dashboard. In fact, you can’t really do anything on your own in Power BI without a technical expert. Whether internal or outsourced, these resources are often hot commodities with a myriad of other priorities. This is what makes Power BI such a hindrance to many businesses – the IT bottleneck. 

    What ends up happening is you (and every other user) compete for the time and expertise of the technical resources that can prepare the data you need. You’ll often get pushed to the back of a very long line. This delay is one of the biggest reasons why a lot of users give up on Power BI early. No one can do their job effectively when they must rely on another busy department or vendor. Everyone is busy, and your data consumption capabilities with Power BI should be able to relieve resource pressures, not add to them.
  • Low User Proficiency

    User proficiency, in the context of a technical tool like Power BI, refers to the ability of users to effectively and efficiently use the software to perform tasks, make decisions, or solve problems. While high user proficiency translates to optimized use of the software, low use proficiency typically means that users are having problems understanding the software’s functionalities, features, interface, and interactions. Based on all the complex data management and language challenges facing non-technical users detailed above, Power BI often trips people up in data concepts from the start. As a result, they spend more time trying to figure out what’s wrong than they do actually learning how to use the tool. By eliminating the data obstacle, and you’ll have happier, well-trained users who get to spend time building data visualizations and analyzing data.

To overcome these usability challenges tomorrow, you need to first be aware of the obstacles you’ll likely face with Power BI today.  

From here, we can explore how to close these gaps and pave the way for a user experience that allows Power BI to be a productive and extremely beneficial tool for your employees and your business (without the frustrated screams or disruptive delays). This means less time spent on data management and administration – and more time spent on data analysis and decision-making.

Also read: Unlock Lightning-Fast Insights: How Power BI Integration Transforms Business Central Reporting

How to Immediately Overcome Power BI’s Biggest Roadblocks

Power BI’s technology is impressively advanced, yet its efficiency hinges on the quality of initial setup, implementation, and user empowerment. Many IT and business decision-makers discover, sometimes mid-way into a Power BI project, that it may not fulfill their expectations for a user-friendly, cost-effective, versatile tool instantly. 

The good news is that there is a way for organizations with Business Central to eliminate the common challenges nearly immediately by leveraging a third-party reporting and data platform that integrates with Power BI, stages the environment for users, and allows them to manage it on their own – without all the technical hurdles. 

As seasoned specialists in Business Central cloud reporting, analytics, and Power BI, Cosmos is committed to maximizing the returns from your Power BI venture in minimal time. To achieve this, we’ve laid out six lesser-known aspects of Power BI in a free whitepaper, aiming to: 

  • Familiarize you with the potential constraints of Power BI 
  • Prepare your organization for seamless Power BI implementation 
  • Discuss methods to merge your Business Central data with Power BI for optimal results 
  • Equip your users with the necessary resources to transform into a data-driven organization 

By familiarizing yourself with the facts about using Power BI for reporting and analytics with Business Central cloud, you can skip the common user barriers and dive right into the tangible benefits of the tool: visualizing data, communicating results, and analyzing performance.

6 Important Facts About Power BI

To leverage Power BI for Business Central, there are certain details you need to know about setup, data management, and user enablement. Download our whitepaper to learn 6 essential facts that pave the way to Power BI success!

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