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Unlocking Power BI Collaboration: Share Reports Like a Pro

Luke Haskins Feb 12, 2024 8:00:00 AM
Image of a magnifying glass hovering over the Microsoft Power BI app on a screen.

If you're reading this blog post today, you've probably already done the tricky bit. You've likely already created the report or dashboard you wanted to circulate around the business, but, like many before, you've hit a brick wall in your efforts to share the Power BI report with different people.

Well, don't fret. My name is Luke Haskins, Operations Director at Netitude (Microsoft Gold Partner), and I'm here to lend a helping hand by giving you all the information you need to send you on your way. Say goodbye to Power BI-related frustration and angst. Say hello to productivity and the seamless circulation of data!

Before we go any further, if you'd like a recap of what Power BI is and how it can benefit your business (especially if you're from a manufacturing background), please check out our last blog post: Power BI: A Game Changer for Manufacturing (netitude.co.uk)

External and Internal Sharing with Power BI

Power BI is a business intelligence tool that allows users to create interactive dashboards and reports. However, the real value of Microsoft's data visualisation tool comes from being able to share the information with others both inside and outside of your business.

Internal Sharing

We'll start with what we expect is the most popular sharing method: Sharing Power BI reports with colleagues. Power BI's seamless integration with other Microsoft products, such as Office 365 and SharePoint, can be considered one of its most significant plus points.

Basic Sharing Via Link:

  • Share from My Workspace: You can share reports and dashboards directly from your personal workspace.
  • Share from Other Workspaces: If you have the Admin or Member role in a workspace, you can share content from there.
  • Reshare Permissions: Users with the Contributor or Viewer role can share if they have resharing permissions.
  • Sharing via Link: In a list of reports or within an open report, select "Share" to generate a sharing link. Recipients can view and interact with the content but not edit it.

Collaboration in Workspaces

  • Collaborate in a Workspace: Teams working together on a project or initiative can access the same documents within a shared workspace.
  • Workspace Roles: Assign roles (such as editing permissions) to allow recipients to modify shared reports.
  • Semantic Model Access: Shared recipients get access to the entire underlying semantic model unless row-level security (RLS) is applied.

Other Collaboration Methods

  • Microsoft Teams Integration: Collaborate seamlessly by sharing reports within Microsoft Teams.
  • Distribute Insights via Apps: Create and deploy template apps to distribute insights to specific users.
  • Live Report Pages in PowerPoint: Present live report pages directly in PowerPoint.
  • Print or Save as PDF: Generate static files for offline sharing.
  • Power BI Mobile Apps: Share content directly from the mobile apps.
  • Power BI Desktop Integration with OneDrive and SharePoint: Publish reports from Power BI Desktop to the Power BI service.

It's important to note that all users who integrate with Power BI and the information produced will need a Power BI Pro or Premium Per User (PPU) license to enable internal sharing. Licencing requirements and editing permissions must also be considered and navigated carefully when sharing company data and information via Power BI.

External Sharing with Power BI 

Another great thing about Power BI is the ease with which it allows the user to share reports and dashboards externally. There are numerous ways in which you can do this:

1. Publish to Web:
    • This method allows you to create a public link for your report or dashboard. Anyone with the link can view the content without requiring a Power BI account.
    • Keep in mind that this option is not suitable for sensitive or confidential data, as it's accessible to anyone who has the link.
2. Embed in Websites or Applications:
    • You can embed Power BI reports directly into websites, blogs, or custom applications.
    • Use the Power BI Embedded service or the JavaScript API to achieve this. It requires additional licensing and setup.
3. Power BI Embedded Capacity:
    • For large-scale external sharing, consider using Power BI Embedded capacity.
    • This allows you to embed reports in applications or portals without requiring individual user licenses.
4. Publish to SharePoint Online:
    • You can publish Power BI reports to SharePoint document libraries if your organisation uses SharePoint Online.
    • Users with appropriate permissions can access the reports from SharePoint.
5. Export to PDF or PowerPoint:
    • Export your report pages to PDF or PowerPoint files.
    • Share these static files with external stakeholders via email or other channels.
6. Power BI Apps:
    • Create and distribute Power BI apps containing reports, dashboards, and datasets.
    • Users can install these apps from Microsoft AppSource or share them directly.
7. Secure External Sharing:
    • If you need to share sensitive data externally, consider using Azure B2B collaboration.
    • Invite external users to collaborate securely by granting them access to specific workspaces or reports.

Tips & Tricks for Effective Sharing

Now, before we let you go and throw your all into sharing reporting stats and business-critical analytics, we'll leave you with some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your Power BI tool.

Keep It Simple 

We often tend to overcomplicate and compensate in life. However, the most common best practice for getting the very most out of Power BI is to avoid overwhelming your users with too many features. An overstimulated dashboard has the potential to bamboozle even the most tech-savvy individual. Therefore, we implore you to prioritise clearness, clarity and user-friendliness at all times.

You'll also need to be considerate of others; just because you're an expert in Power BI doesn't mean the person you're sharing it with has to be. Try your best to make your dashboards intuitive and easy to consume.

For instance, if you want to show off all the great work you've been doing to your boss, it might be a good idea to stick to your key performance indicators (KPIs) and provide additional context around them where necessary.

Effective Layout 

The way you display your data will be crucial. Make sure it guides the user's attention in chronological order and doesn't have any random or sporadic info that may cause confusion. Again, the best idea would be to build your dashboards around your KPIs; your job will be to make it as easy as possible to articulate 'what does good look like?'.

You can also follow the 'less is more' mindset, a moto encouraged and endorsed by the leading mental health and behavioural scientists over at Psychology Today. If you're filling your dashboards with unnecessary clutter or complex data points, you simply aren't giving the end user the best chance of understanding your data.  

Here are some more succinct tips that are well worth hearing:

  • Cleanse your database regularly: Make the most of Power BI's built-in tools, such as Power Query, DAX, and built-in quality checks to ensure data is constantly accurate and consistent.  
  • Organise your datasets: Follow best practices regarding data and information storage by using consistent naming conventions, organise data into folders so they're easy to locate, and back up your data regularly.
  • Leverage tooltips to your advantage: The tooltips feature is a safe bet to improve the user experience and overall look and feel of your Power BI interface.
  • Ensure accessibility and inclusivity throughout: It's crucial to consider any challenges or disabilities people may have that will limit their ability to access your reporting data. You can use alt text, maintain colour contrast between text and background colours, and use clear titles for any visuals or charts you wish to share.

Now then, you should have everything you need to become a Power BI pro! In essence, sharing a Power BI report with different people is a simple and efficient process. The simple and seamless integration with other Microsoft products, the range and flexibility of internal and external sharing, and its various features are what sets it apart as the leader in the business intelligence (BI) space, with a whopping 36% of the market share according to TrustRadius research conducted in February 2021. 

Whether you want to share reports with colleagues, clients, or the public, Power BI has options to suit your needs. So why not give it a try and see the benefits for yourself?

If you hit any snags or have any Power BI-related qualms in the meantime, reach out to our Microsoft Gold Partner experts here at Netitude!