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Excel Vs Power BI, which is best for reporting?

Lily Howell Oct 8, 2020 12:00:00 AM
businesswomen pointing business document during discussion at meeting of corporate showing the results of their successful teamwork.

If you’re already familiar with the most popular data analysis tool on the planet (Excel), why would you invest the extra time and energy to learn to use Power BI?

In part one of a short series on Microsoft Power BI, Service Delivery Director, Robin Mayo and Financial Controller, Luke Haskins, discuss traditional financial reporting in excel versus the options available in Power BI and ultimately how it can help grow your business.

Microsoft Power BI Webinar:

  • Introduction (00:00 – 01:10)
  • The Evolution of Financial Reporting (01:10 – 5:10)
  • Excel to Power BI Walk-Through (05:10 – 27:28)
  • The Benefits: Microsoft Excel Vs Power BI (27:28 – 32:54)
  • Additional License and Rollout Costs (32:54 – 35:07)
  • Questions and Answers (35:07 – 40:22)


Introduction (00:00 – 01:10)

Robin (00:00):

Hello and welcome everyone, this a first in a short series of power BI webinars. And today we’re going to be looking at Excel versus power BI. It’s Robin and Luke here from Netitude, we’re an IT service provider in sunny Somerset and we’ll be taking you through the webinar today. So we’re going to be starting with the evolution of financial reporting. Luke’s going to take us through that step by step. Then we’re going to have a walkthrough in our demo environment, where Luke’s going to show us how to convert and some ledger information through Excel and into power BI. And then I’ll be talking about feature comparison and licensing costs. And finally, we’ll have some Q&A at the end in the remaining time. Look for the question mark, in a speech bubble to get to the Q&A section, put your questions in there. We’ll try and answer them as we go along through the presentation, but only if we don’t get to we’ll cover at the end, and we’ll hang on to make sure we’ve answered as many as we can. So, Luke’s now going to take us through a brief history of reporting and finance.

The Evolution of Financial Reporting (01:10 – 5:10)

Luke (01:10):

So yeah, we’ve got to understand where we’ve come from to understand the question we’re looking at today. So why are we at the point now of comparing Excel versus BI the very start financial reporting? It was very, very prehistoric. You’re looking through the elements from what I’ve classed as the “Chisley Stoneius” period, you got your slate, you’ve got chairs or your carbonate information. The main focus of it was really just putting visuals into a kind of convey important information across different methods by using visual impact. We then moved on to the much more advanced “Slidey Beady” period. Again, it’s just the advancement on different ways to not only show information but helps calculate it through the beautiful world of the abacus when it kind of started in my early preschool days and moving on forward. But also it was good originated format to be able to physically show numbers moving across and the impact that they also had.

Moving on, we’ve done to the great benefit of the paper impact, the kind of old ledger books, the mass sizing, where you had almost a semi-detached building built onto your premises just to hold multiple years worth of ledger books. People spread over mass desks with different sizes to just try and work through either pen with a whole lot of tipex or a nice sharp HB pencil to go through and document all the transactions that were going through. It provided a whole world of data and everything transacted and recorded in one place enabled businesses, organizations as a whole, to be able to see what was going on and see the trends, see the information and also made the right decisions from it. But the nature of it made it very difficult to turn that data into information. So as the advancements of technology went on and the likes of Bill Gates and etc came into the world and involved huge technological advancements that allowed us to take a whole world of data that we collated and put it into an electronic format. This electronic format then enabled you to not only to be more efficient on how you recorded it and other people to be able to access from multiple different sources at the same time, but also going back to that first perspective for visual perspectives, graphing different chats, and elements to be able to go and take the information created and use it to make the business go forward.

This has been the case for several years and different other elements and software has appeared and to try and advance and move that forward. Power BI is Microsoft’s next step on it, although it’s been around for a couple of years now, we really feel it’s starting to find it’s feet now and starting to be used a bit more commonly it’s evolved itself as all software does, and then modern advancements on it, make it really useful to a whole wide variety of businesses. It can give you live information, which is a necessity also in the world. We find ourself at the moment, you can share information so quickly across not only cities, towns, counties, but across the world, as needed. With the whole remote working environment, we find ourselves in elements like BI can allow you to share information. As if you’re sat next to somebody in the office, and being able to provide that information. It gives you a more secure element. It means you can keep that information in the same format and allow it to be shared without the fear of the drill-down elements or certain information being viewed by people that shouldn’t.

So it’s opened a whole new world of elements and allowing the business case forward. It’s covered a few different points going through it, but the best way to really show the contrast between where we work and where we find ourselves now with Power BI is to work through. I’m only going to scratch the surface of it now, but the best way is to show you step by step. I’m going to pass it over to a really good friend of mine from a couple of days ago, we’ll go through the different steps and show you how this really works in practice.

Excel to Power BI Walk-Through (05:10 – 27:28)

Luke (05:10)

Okay, so hopefully now you’ve seen kind of the evolution going through on financial reporting, the very crude steps that are gone on the stages during its life. And now we kind of look at the options that are available. As most people are aware most of my life through it, we’ve been using Excel as a key contribution towards any kind of financial reporting, but now we have the option of power BI coming in. And how can we kind of use that to make it the most useful we can for your business? So now like we said on the intro, we’re going to go through a few steps, show you how you can take it from your accounting package into a useful BI format. So let’s get started.

Okay. So we use Xero in this example, I know a lot of you out there will already be using the package and a couple of base options, but it’ll be the same basic procedure for any accounting package you’ve got there. So within the software itself, I’m just going to take a trial balance out. I think from all aspects of accounting, we all know it starts in that sort of basis. So I try balances are kind of key reflection back. So I will pull it out of here, I’m using a demo company in Xero. So many of you that do have a theory from the core information, that’s there feel free to jump in. You can see the information that I’m putting through. There are some interesting numbers as you’ll see as we go through, but at least it gives us a good idea. So then the reports in Xero itself, I’m going to do it as August, I know some of you might be more efficient than me in early October and have all of the accounts done, but not quite for September. So we’re going to go for August in this perspective.

So there we go with the trial balance for August, our main key numbers, you can see it’s a demo company. So it’s only got a few different bits going on, but it’ll give us a good idea of the different codes and elements going through, there’ll be able to sort. So take it from there itself, I’m just going to export into Excel. Some options have it straight as a CSV, someone would put it into our full Excel file. We’ve also got the option of Google sheets, etc. You can see from here and in the formats for that perspective or working from BI as we’ll see a bit later on, but you just want to export, for this stage going through. That’s the best way to put out. We just need to export the file itself.

So, just going to create the export going through that we can now use to pull in from BI. In typical kind of blue peter fashion, I’ve already got this kind of setup in the background and saved as a file. So what I’m going to do now is go straight to power BI and pull the information out from it. So when you open up power BI itself, you’ll get a very blank look in the screen like this. There are a few tabs underneath, you’ll see on the main view now. But again, there are things I’ve prepared for us just so we can have a quick view of the options after we’ve got past the first couple of stages. So step one is pulling the data in. So just at the top on the toolbar, going through to get the data, as you can see here, you’ve got a whole world of different options to be able to pull information from whether it’s Excel, CSV itself, or lots of other options. Later on in the webinar, we’ll go through kind of expansion and how we’re looking to give you different options and pulling straight from your kind of system that you use to create your information. But for now, I’m just going to stick with the basic cell format, just so we can keep this comparison going through.

So if I pick Excel from here, it goes straight into my file Explorer folder directory, as it normally would do when you see it. So all the Excel files are appearing through here and I’ve got the different options of everything that’s hiding within the folder itself. So I’m going to pull up the CSV that I’ve exported straight from Xero before. Double-clicking on that, it’ll open up pain for import – it’s just kind of a preview screen, so you can see what the information might look like when you pull it across. So it was a good sense check to have a look and make sure it’s showing the information I can see a lot of it coming through and it’s given us a very similar basis to the trial balance going in. I would hope so support from the information. I’d be a little bit worried if it didn’t. So it’s good to see that kind of coming through. So what I’m going to do now, I’m happy that my titles are in there and my field’s across, so I’m just going to hit load. All that’ll do is pull the information from the source file and bring it into a usable format in power BI.

Just give that a second to work its way through. Okay. So it’s now appeared over on my right-hand side, it’s got all the different elements available that I can pull to do it. So don’t panic. If nothing appears on the first screen, in the first instance, it’s literally the aspect of it putting the information across. So in the first point, I’ll just show you how to quickly get the information on the page. Individualizations these are all the different ways you can make the information look, but there’ll be a pie chart, bar chart, lines, etc. Or just a table format. I’ve gone for a kind of a matrix option. So we’ve got a comparison. So from creating that, it gives me a few options. Rows, columns, values are a very basic first kind of entry point for it. So what I’m going to do, the rows I want to see unsurprisingly are my accounts.

We just saw it going through and the trial balance. It makes it into a small window first, easy to kind of pull these seamless or basis to most of the year kind of pivot tables and other elements. You’ll see an Excel easy just to drag and pull out to get information out. And then I columns and values. So it’s a trial balance. So I’m going to want to see my credit and my debit values. So I’m going to pull across my credit on my debit values. If I was just a tick them – it will default to a value aspect as well. So whichever way you go through as you get into more advanced kind of reports and options, it’s probably bad to drag and drop cause you know, it’s going into the right place. So I’ve done a few times and it can be a very confusing perspective because it literally it goes into the column rather than the value.

So it’s worth bearing that in mind as you go through. But as a core perspective, it’s taken us what a couple of minutes now from exploring from Xero, from our accounting package, whatever that may be, into a file format, and then pulling that straight into BI, you can see there’s basic kind of information and it gives us the lines going through. So that’s the key first point. We’ve got the information into it. If I was to send this out as an accounting package to send to the managers within Netiude, I think I’d get a bit of a funny look, cause it’s not going to tell them much is it. So what do we need to do? We need to use it, manipulate and make it into a format. That’s going to be useful for people to be able to review and use in the format they need to do so that’s going to be different for different people, and that is where the beauty and the power of BI kind of really comes in.

So taking it from that first stage, what I’ve done is put it into a very basic format and put it in with the other months that have gone through before, and put a summarization with it. So very flat two lines at the moment for your gross profit, your overhead leading you through to your net profit. And then we can see the actual is going through the month to date, we’re going up to August, so we can see the plan going through not setting the world alight seeing them through, but they’ve managed to plough through the COVID situation quite well. And I piggyback through not sure what happened in July, but yeah. Information going through. We can see the details that are in there.

The first main element of where BI steps ahead of Excel is this drill-down option. So headline information might be key for your MD, may be key for your high net levels. Also just want to see my numbers quickly and easy but what this now allows you to do is to drill down a bit more into it. So there’s a couple of ways to do that and the options within the report and we’re mainly going through is expand all down one level, it’s kind of looks like a Pitchfork upside down, but it’s the main one to kind of quickly drill down. You can do it individually by clicking on the crosses, but from a key perspective, using this one allows you to kind of go through level by level. When you drill down, I think you can say another kind of previous reporting formats is a bit hard to manipulate through, but it gives you the same process. So we expanded the level down one.

So we’ve got them grouped in together now, so you’ve got your gross profit, your revenue, your direct costs linking through to that, and then your overhead. So the first line down pretty impressed with their model, to be honest, because they’ve got revenue coming through, but they’ve got no direct cost. I’ve got to kind of figured out how they’ve managed to achieve that because I want to get in that format. If you can regenerate revenue, you’ve got an indirect cost. That’s always a good format to be in. We can see in August, it starts to bring in some actuals coming through, but still 11 grand going through one direct cost of 1200 is a good little model to keep going. Then underneath that again, the overhead perspective going through, I can then drill down again and it’s very basic format and I’ll give you my line details as we saw in the trial balance at the start.

So within sales and revenue in this view, again, very basic, but within the overhead, we had all the different nominal codes and it gives us an idea of where our expense has been going, lighting, power, heating all the way through, and then the other elements have been creeping in. They’re looking for growth is all I can say, 6,000 pounds in advertising and marketing in August, they’re definatly trying to push for the future going through, especially on adamant. So, but it gives you a rough idea. You can see the trades going through that on a traditional Excel format, you might not be able to do. So, it gives you the first few, we can go even further with BI from that perspective, this is kind of your crude P and L you would normally see. So this is the I’ve been going through.

What I’ve also done is just a quick comparison. I’ve explored the one through that you would normally get, say out of Xero or something you would have done yourself. So we’ll have a quick look at that and just kind of make the comparison going through. So on the profit and loss itself, you need to take a straight Excel export from there, you can see it’s very seminar to what format we’ve managed to create in a couple of steps in BI it links it through, but again, for summary perspective, you’ve got all the information or you’ve got none of the information. So in this view, you get all the line information, but again, the benefit of this is I can quickly go back up, just tell me what the headline numbers are, what we’re going through, what’s going on in the month, what’s the trend, whereas in a more traditional Excel format, as I said, it’s a lot of information or, you know, creating pivots, you’re doing other elements to be able to do that. So it’s definitely a first win for BI from that perspective.

So we can then evolve that even more, even from just using Excel as a basis. So the next view I’ve got an area is actually using the general ledger export rather than the trial balance itself. So why would you want to do that? Again, it’s the element of more information. You’ve got your headline number, we’re still making the same profit for August, but for those people that really want to see the line detail and you don’t really want to be able to mess about and affect your accounting system and causing all kinds of damage. This is a brilliant way to be able to do it. Again, using the same kind of drill down. We can take the lane next line-level going through, and we can see all our different cost codes going through and the gross profit and overhead. But what we can now do by using the general ledger export to pull the information it’s drilled down once again, and we can now even see the line detail that that’s created for it.

So I can see from the sales invoices, what sort of things going on, we duplicate an invoice, we’ve had to raise a credit back for it. We’ve got three lines going back through what was so big kind of invoices going through? Well, we had a really good university project going on 5,000 pounds has really led to why we had a massive increase in revenue in August. Flipside of that as well, keeping a good sort of eye on your overheads, where the costs going through, how are things being allocated properly? Woolworths Market, presuming that some new element through, cause if they’re buying stuff from Woolworths, that is not in the right time period to be dated. So there are those elements going through and it’s important to kind of get that information on it. You see a lot of different elements going through and we can see different costs and get that line data if that’s the sort of element you want to go through. So again, massive benefit of BI that you really can’t get into Excel without sitting there making multiple reports and multiple pages within it.

So that’s your core kind of PNL element getting through what else can we do with it from that perspective? So as with a lot of you out there, you create a management package month. So that’s not just the financials involved, all the other aspects going on within the business. BI is brilliant for that. It gives you the idea where you can see different elements through and see how the business is performing across. Cause as we all know, certain elements are performing well, we have to keep control of others. So I’ve got my August element in, all I’ve done as well for this element now, is I’ve brought in my project perspective, we’ve all got targets, whether it be budget, whether it just be sales forecast going through, whether it be a general forecast as we’re bringing in and the variants to do it.

So now I can look at that comparison from different tabs, different Excel sheets, and quickly view them in one page, rather than having to do amalgamations linking through, it’s literally using the different field formats. I can make that presentation format quickly and easily accessible with the same level of drill down as I had on my normal P and L at the start. So I can then look at the gross profit, I can look at the revenue lines. The massive increase in revenue, the interesting budget set up for that kind of perspective you’re going through, and I can drill down again and see the elements going through. So that must’ve been an impulse marketing spend because we already planned out 400 pounds going through on Marketing. So in the views blank going through 6,000 overspends, and the fact we didn’t have any cleaning costs going through and the current environment, surprising as well. We budgeted for some going in every month.

So it gives you a management team, it gives yourself a lot of quick information to comparison through, but detailed without having to bog them down with multiple sheets, multiple areas and the other elements that are involved, but we can also compare it. We’ve got, okay, we’ve got a high sales revenue month. Have we had to compromise anything for those elements? So we’ve built in some KPI sheets. So this information again can be pulled from many different sources. We will look for that in future, as we go through, but for this conversation and just to show you the meaning and how the workings going behind, I’ve literally done it from a basic Excel. Like there’s many of us that worked out with our KPIs, we record them going through and we see the elements going through it. So we’ve got the elements and the information on how that’s gone through over several months where our customer feedback has done. Again, using BI and the benefit of it, I can pull that information or onto one sheet for the management team to see, or whatever element of the business you thinks is the best perspective.

So I can see, yes, we must have driven that through and we must get revenue ahead of spend, but we also have to use more over time what we plan to go through we’re over the trial element and then we were the only budget for 10, we’ve gone through 12, but within that, we’ve kept a really solid customer service level, with our target of 95%, we’ve exceeded with 96 and we’ve kept returns down to under our 4% target 3%. So with that volume, going through, keeping the trends good.

Again, then we want to, we can manipulate the data and make it whatever kind of format it’s going to be useful. So I know for one from my teams is having that overhead perspective and seeing where the different costs are and what’s driving that through against our day to day operations. So a quick pie chart like this, gets to see where is that overhead spends going? We were only planning to spend 2000. We spent 8,000. Where’s that come from? Why are we done with that development? Sorry to attack the marketing guys again, but that’s what it’s going through. It shows you through in the pie chart perspective, it’s easy to see the element going through the majority of the cost going through overhead last month in this environment, was our marketing spends. Closely followed by the rent but you would expect that going through. If you haven’t got your property, expenses as a fair chunk of your overhead, then you need to think about them and going through.

So again, it gets us to see general comparisons, how are we going against our plan also, how it’s going across the business. It gives us a quick element view, and it gives us all in one place. Elements you can bring into Excel is definitely possible, but again, a lot more manipulation needed a lot more time spent. And it’s also very easy to be able to overwrite and get things confused with BI. You can literally drag and drop in from the table information, getting the data like I showed you in the first step to be able to use and in a nice presentable format, quickly.

And the final view I’ve done can be used during your budgetary perspective. It might be an extra build into your P and L each month, but seeing you kind of year to date view going through how’s, your actual is going through what we’re planning to do with the budget? And how is that going to look overall? And similar basis – we’ve got the raw information that we need. So what’s our revenue trend? The demo company in this perspective, they’re doing something right by a nice steady trend, lockdown didn’t even affect them at all. The trend going through and are looking for a big performance towards the end of the year, but the overhead’s a bit of a spike going through. So we need to kind of keep control of that. We are looking to drop it back down, but we might have to put some bits in place to review that as we go through. So again, quick visual information planning through, and we can see the comparison of what the future lies for the business and where we need to step through. Quick and easy elements going through, obviously there’s some preparation and manipulation going through to create these, but once they’re created, they’re quickly able to be updated and brought back through. There are no elements of creating multiple months, it’s just a case of refreshing the data, which is brilliant – It makes life a lot quicker and easier and can bring end down quite dramatically if you get this out correctly. So again, another benefit for the growth and kind of within your business as a whole.

So I’m showing you and all this information we’ve done so far, it’s all within the desktop app. This is all well and good me creating this but I’ve got to get it shared out to people. So what I do from that perspective is the option to go through and create and publish it. So we’ve generated the report, we can now go to publish it and put in a useful format that we can share out with all the managers. They’ve obviously asked me to save as I go through, might be handy, save as we go through and I put the information in but I don’t want to lose that. It’ll give you a destination that could be wherever going through, in this particular basis because it’s a demo environment, we’ve got the, my workspace space and that’s what we’re going to go with. So that’s going through, you see it processing through this publishing in power BI. What this is doing is taking it from the desktop app, making it into a browser view that then can then be easily shared and gone through. So I can open them up now that it’s published and then asked me to sign-in on the account. So what we’re doing now is revert to the other option going in.

So signing in quickly, obviously, if you’ve got a preset up, it will feed straight back through, but this is our view. The view is exactly the same for the reporting elements, I’ve still got all my tabs down here from our very first upload through to the monthly comparison, the general ledger view, our overall performance and then the year as a whole. So I’ve got it. What you’ll notice on the key side is I’ve lost all the kind of creative elements on the right-hand side. So in this view, people can’t go in and add any more, they can’t change the formats in there, all they’ll be able to do is put some filters on for their own perspective. So again, the information we’re using is very basic, but you may well have your cost centres there. Now you might want different elements of projects or marketing or certain areas of production, you might have different revenue lines that you want to split into they have their own cost centres.

This will allow your people to be able to manipulate down through. They might want to look at their own department. So again, it’s quick and easy to set up and do, and they’ll be able to go in and see the specific information they want. So it’s going to be the most useful for them to be able to use, but they can’t override and change any of the information you’ve put in. So there’s no fear like I’ve heard of many times when you share an Excel report out within management and different people have gone in to look at something and they read through yourselves and you look up and you’re crying because it takes you a week to try and figure out what they deleted. So this is the beauty of it that they can go in and can see the information, but they can’t destroy it.

So as much as I’ve got faith in it, it’s always good to have that backup and lock on it. We can send the link through that and we can share this with any of our team. It’s literally what a lot of your are use to in many formats now your social media with other elements, you can just share the information going through. To do that, as you can see, you need a power BI pro license, which you know what to do, and we can go through these steps as we go through, but you can share these links, getting through to whatever you have put in your address book, put emails across, and you can even set them up in certain situations to go external. If you want to send, it might be for a board meeting. It might be shareholder elements. It might be even other people that have an interest in the business. You’d like to share the financial information or KPIs as a whole. You can get the elements through and send through an email, so it makes it much more user friendly, but also gets you to the protection of the not going into the raw data, not needing access through to your accounting package, not needing to go through and manipulate any of the raw data. So really helpful, really more secure environment where we’re trying to make sure we keep everything as secure as possible as I’m sure we’ve pushed back in other elements to kind of highlight as well.

So that’s the overview going through. That’s the step by steps and the elements that you can kind of do. There’s, I’m merely scratching the surface at the moment for what BI can really do for you. It’s got a whole world of elements that can be brought in and how it can allow you to evolve your data and allow people to view a through. But for now, it’s a good step going through and we’ll drill into kind of the cost and the other. And it’s a bit more.

Microsoft Excel Vs Power BI (27:28 – 32:54)

Luke (27:28)

That kind of covered a lot of the steps in there. And thank you very much to Luke from a few days ago, looking very handsome and covered a lot from my perspective. So that’s all good to go. So looking over now where want to do a bit of a summary, just kind of covered the key points have gone through as where Excel is versus power BI. So showing the theme you’ve got, we’ve got Excel was slightly more user friendly still, people are very familiar with the language of Microsoft as a whole, although BI has done its very best to incorporate that. Just the nature of our reporting format, there are a few other bits that need to be learned on top of it. So it’s slightly more user friendly. Still, Excel will still give you the quickest and that initial manipulation of data. You’re not going to get to a point of being able to type into a cell literally equals plus to be able to generate that as quickly as BI. But the beauty of BI is once it’s created, it can be used on multiple occasions or different sources of data. But for an initial quick calculation, Excel is still the benefactor of it. And so, of course, there’s more widely used format at the moment. I have no doubt that BI will gradually spread its way across most organizations, but the current moment in time, if you’re looking to share information across different elements that you want them to be able to manipulate, you use the data a bit more Excel at this current moment in time was still be the more used format.

Linking in with the initial manipulation, Excel is still quicker to customize certain elements. Being able to link on a certain file, grab a certain couple of rows, change the font, change the color. It will be quicker from that format, but it’s very slight BI is very quick with this customization, but from an initial perspective, Excel just redacted for me on that one. And one click entry amendments, there’s a lot more formula and understanding going into the background of BI that’s, why it’s this does what it does and we, and provide the detail it does. So it does take away that one-click element that Excel is brilliant at to allow you to do it, but there are obviously limitations that one quick element, as i’m sure we’ve all experienced beforewith different elements being able to overright cells and blat out multiple feel cups and pivot tables in one foul swoop. So there’s benefits and limitations to that.

For BI itself, it’s got a much deeper customisation as you’ve seen just literally a few points in that kind of walk through. There’s a whole world of elements and customizations that are available within it and theming that you can copy across company documents and keep them all on one form. So it’s got a lot of more powerful elements compared to Excel in that perspective. It’s a more professional presentation. Again, I’ve heard that clearly came across in that kind of walk through that the professional presentation, how you can share it, the filter abilities to be able to only show certain information. And it just is much more professional piece of software to share information with. Multiple views from the same data. We covered it about the questions we will in a minute as well, but being able to have one source and then create different views very quickly based on the filterings going through and being able to share that out. So you might have your general PNL, but you want certain people will be able to see that department’s quick fill or within BI allows you to do that and it’s one of its real strengths.

The easy drill down options, again, i’ve shown you with a general ledger basis. I’m not really aware. It is possible to export that and put it into an Excel, but it would dramatically be difficult to use taking the format of it, and again, easy to overwrite. So being able to drill down and give them that view of being able to go in line by line, see the invoices and transactions are going through, seeing where the expense has come from. Why you’re ahead of budget, why you’ve spent more than you were planning to be able to drill into that information, is a godsend from since we’ve been implementing it here. It’s less susceptible to human error. I mentioned a bit before with the one-click about someone being able to overwrite your V lookups change, the formulas that are going through. That’s the brilliance of it. It pulls straight from the information and then you’re not touching the raw data again, it’s just changing the view of it.

So that way you’re not going to all of a sudden lose 60,000 entries on a report, don’t know anybody that would do that other moment. So the beauty of BI is it kind of covers these elements to be able to do it. It gives you a more controlled sharing, internally and externally as I mentioned in there. Be able to share information across businesses, across areas, across countries, with you being able to control what they can view, how they can access it and what they can use from a human being able to use the data you control when you share the report. So it’s real secure benefits to be able to share information. I feel comfortable doing it. Being able to build from all four sources of information, that’s something that will catch on the rest of the series. We’ve looked at the very basics of this perspective, but you have the ability to link it straight into elements, such as Xero other general ledger packages.

You have the ability to build into your ERP system, put it straight from your information to stock control systems. It really is incredible how quickly you can pull information and put it into a usable format with BI. And that’s what we will expand through on the webinars as we go forward. But yeah, it’s the big strength over Excel as well to just show you the difference of what it can do and where it can pull the information. And there’s no need for a license to be able to generate the information, Robin will pick up now with you on the different costing elements, but to be able to generate and provide that view without having to pay an initial cost was good, especially in the initial trial phase. So I’ll passed you over to Robin now to let you know, on the costing comparisons.

Additional License and Rollout Costs (32:54 – 35:07)

Robin (35:07)

So the great thing about both platforms is that they both got free versions. Excel Online, which is a very cut down version of Excel. You can use without any license costs and also Power BI Free allows you to use the desktop app and also the power BI service for a single user. So you get decidedly more for you free license with a Power BI platform. Anyone who’s used the Excel Online will know that it’s a bit limited, whereas you get the full use of the desktop app with Power BI, without paying anything. Most people are aware and are using a base level of Microsoft 365 licensing package, which summarized some of the options there. It goes a bit further for larger or more security conscious businesses, but those are your basic prices there. Seven pound 90 is the cheapest you’ll pay to useExcel desktop app on a per user basis.

Power BI is a subscription only purchase. So Excel, you can buy as an off-the-shelf per-device package but you can’t do that with Power BI it’s subscription only. So what’d you get for your money with power BI Pro? It gives you the ability to share reports online with colleagues. So you get to use power BI for free, try it out, see if it’s any good for your business, share some reports with yourself. And then if it is something that’s going to be a game changer for your business, then you can apply the license and it doesn’t cost you anything until then, which I think is a brilliant model from Microsoft. There’s alsoenterprise level premium service for those companies that are producing hundreds and hundreds of Power BI reports every day. But Power BI pro is more than enough for most people. As long as everyone that’s sharing reports has that Power BI pro license at £7.54 and then you’re good to go.

Questions and Answers (35:07 – 40:22)

Robin (35:07)

So that’s all we have for the webinar. It’s been a pleasure to present for you. And our producer, Lily is going to be dropping a link into the Q&A signup for the next and the series. Also some information about how to access this webinar recording. We’re just going to cover a few questions that we had during the session now.

Luke (35:31)

So we answered a couple of, as we were going along, but we had a few people come across and ask for access to the video for a first perspective. So yes, we obviously are recording this going through the best place for you to be able to find this is through our website. So, – you’ll get access to this one, the prerecording, but also some of the great ones that have happened over the last few months, a wider information. And again, like we said, this is one in a series, so you’ll be able to find the future elements and any links through on that as well. But as Robin mentioned, the best way to find out what’s coming through and the advancements as we look for direct links to different software it’s to sign up with the form that’s being posted in the Q&A as well. So we could share that information with you as we go through.

Robin (36:19)

Yeah, so someone asked a question about, can I report you sent to someone without power BI account, can it be opened? So you need a power BI pro account to be able to open a report has been shared. You can actually export into PDF or into Excel format so that you could share it out to a wider audience. Hope that covers that question.

Luke (36:44)

Yeah. We’ve got another one about pre design templates. Yes, there’s a whole world of it plus add-on’s that come in through for predesigned templates. So there’s a lot of stuff you can quickly implement and put across, which is definitely why I did when I first started finding my feet with it and finding the implementations. So yes, there is, there are coming more and more by the day, but we’ve also got to the point now where we’ve created our own and we can now implement that across different reports to different kind of parts of the business as well.

Robin (37:12)

Another question we had is the source of power BI data, generally Excel? To begin with, yes. Because it’s where most of our data sits but once you start realizing that actually you’ve exported that data into Excel from a platform first place then you can find a connector that avoids that step and then you don’t need Excel at all. So as you sort of develop your knowledge of the platform, you’ll realize that actually Excel doesn’t need to be the source. So for example, we have a PSA system or CRM system which uses a SQL database as its data backend. We’ve connected power BI directly to that SQL database and we’re pulling reports straight out of SQL instead. And that’s just one in a long list of examples of how you can avoid using Excel as a sort of middleman. And we’ll cover a few more apps and integrations in later presentations in the series.

Luke (38:22)

Yeah. I think I’ll pick up one more, we are a few minutes over already. All I’d say is if you’ve got any more questions that come up please do from across we are going to be looking to do something and just over a month’s time building on this with trying to pick up some key points you guys want us to look into as well. So again, sign up on the form and we’ll be able to send you more information for that, but also feel free to drop it across or speak – If you’re a natural customer ready, feel free to speak to your vITD and they will be more than happy to answer the questions and how you can implement it in your business.

So yeah, going through just saying I saw comment come across about being able to put comments and notes through. Yes, there are more boxes again, to be able to add comments notes on each individual tab, within a report or across every single one, there is a functionality to add in, and textfiles as well. Again, I literally created a couple of reports in that demo for you of how the different visual formats there are. So you can very easily put in text format files as well to link through. And if there’s key points you want to highlight to people. I always put kind of a summary sheet as well, when I share the report, that kind of puts the detail of the information, so I found that really useful.

So yeah, we’ve covered a lot going through hope. It’s been really useful for you all when you’ve got the benefit coming in. We appreciate your time this morning. Again, please do fill in the form. We’ll be able to keep you all up to date on what’s coming through on the rest of the series. I think that’s everything for me. So again, appreciate your time.

Robin (39:55)

Thanks everyone. Look forward to seeing you all again. Bye bye.