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Getting started with showing Business Central data in Power BI can be daunting, but at the end of this guide you will be ready to visualize any KPI your team needs. The guide walks you through these critical steps:
- Getting set up for the first time
- Connecting to the data
- Publishing your reports
- Important tips and tricks
Setting up Power BI with Business Central for the first time
Before we jump into it, let's outline an important distinction.
What is the difference between Power BI Dashboard and a Report?
Report and dashboard are two words that are often intermixed within Power BI but they are two distinctly different things. A Power BI Dashboard is flexible grouping of various reports. It allows you to mix and match individual reports into a single page view.
Power BI Reports are multi-page visualizations of metrics and data. Easiest way to go is to begin designing reports, and then compile dashboards as needed.
Getting started with Power BI is a straight forward process. Once you have successfully connected to your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central to Power BI, the connection details will be saved in the report designer making it easy to reuse going forward.
You open a finance dashboard, and can clearly see how costs are trending. The operations report shows your bottlenecks and areas of opportunity. Sales trends are crystal clear.
The steps to getting started with Power BI:
- Purchase a Power BI Pro License
- Download and install Power BI Report Designer
- Connect Power BI to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central using the data source connector
- Select appropriate Business Central environment
- Import relevant tables
Purchase a Power BI Pro License
Purchasing a Power BI Pro license is the easiest first step in the process. It is just $9.99 per month and can be purchased through a self-service on Microsoft's Power BI page.
You are also able to get a free 60 day trial to test before purchasing.
Download and install Power BI Report Designer
The Power BI Report Designer is the desktop tool for connecting to your data sources, configuring your data, and designing the report components.
These capabilities are also available through the Power BI online portal, however we typically find it easier to use the desktop designer.
Connect Power BI to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central using the data source connector
Once you've installed Power BI Desktop, we recommend signing into your Microsoft account that is associated with your license.
To connect Power BI to your Microsoft Business Central account, first click on the Get Data button in the toolbar. Second, search for Business Central in the data source pop-up.
Finally, select Dynamics 365 Business Central and click connect.
Select appropriate Business Central environment
Now that you are connected to your Business Central instance, you will need to select the environment you want to draw the data from. You can see in the below example that we have two environments, a sandbox and production.
The choice for which to use depends on your circumstances, but you will be able to switch them at any time.
Selecting the environment is as simple as clicking on the expand drop down from the list above.
Import relevant Business Central tables
Once the environment has been expanded, you will see a list of companies available within that environment.
Again, you will need to select the one that is appropriate for the report you are planning on designing. You can then expand that company and see the full list of tables available to import.
Select the tables you want and click the Load or Transform Data buttons.
Now your data will be loaded into your Power BI report, and ready for you to get started!