The True Cost of Power BI

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Open your browser each day and instantly see detailed analytics on your business. But you don't need to go broke getting there.

Power BI is a powerful tool.

As with any great new tech, it is easy to run over budget.

Through our experience we've seen where the pitfalls are in a project, and they can be hard to avoid.

Each project is unique. What you need will differ from the company next door.

Therefore, the costs can change dramatically simply depending on the approach.

The costs for a project can be condensed to the following questions:

  • Which Power BI product will you choose?
  • How strong is your team with your current data?
  • Do you know exactly the views you want of your data? Are you sure?
  • Are you confident in how you calculate your KPIs?
  • How can we avoid rework?

We can take you through each of these questions.

Which Power BI product will allow you to get the most value over time?

The license cost for Power BI is straight forward and easy to understand with just $9.99 per user per month for Pro (cloud) and a starting license of $4,995 per month for Premium (on-premise).

What is the difference between Power BI Pro and Premium

Power BI Cost

The first cost decision you will need to make is whether to use Power BI Pro or Premium.

This is cloud versus on-premise.

Power BI pro affords more flexibility due to licenses being transferable and you can add them as needed so the cost can scale up as your use of Power BI increases.

Premium is a flat monthly cost which makes the early phases of Power BI use very expense on a per user basis as your team works to expand usage throughout the company.

You open a finance dashboard, and can clearly see how costs are trending. The operations report shows your bottlenecks and opportunities. Sales trends are crystal clear.

How strong is your team with your current data? How much of their time will be available throughout the course of the project?

Getting started with Power BI requires your team will need to make decisions around what is top priority. Which reports, KPIs, and dashboards are needed.

To successfully display these metrics requires a clear understanding of what data will be required and what the data looks like in the various sources.

Power BI data sources

Depending on the source of the data, it can look distinctly different in the database from what the end-users sees in the application.

To successfully show what your team needs, you will need a clear understanding where the data is, how to create the proper relationships, and how to work with it once it's pulled into Power BI.

Joining together all of these data sources can be tricky. The wrong data strategy can cause significant costs to be added.

Picture it: Your weekly stand-up meeting has detailed charts, figures, and calculations. No one had to spend any time preparing them.

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What data views do you need? Have you already built consensus with the teams that will be using them?

When attempting to unify the way your company looks at data, everyone has an opinion.

Lack of agreement translates into rework. This is the #1 cause of budget overrun

More rework and changes add more and more to the costs.

Questions that will be raised during discussions:

  • How should we visualize our KPIs?
  • How do we calculate the important metrics?
  • Who should have access to which visuals and data?

Get your data connected correctly the first time

Virtually all Power BI projects will have data from various sources coming together.

This can come in the form of excel spreadsheets with forecasts and budgets that need to be tied to an ERP or accounting solution to track sales.

Our team has seen up to four systems connected for one report (Salesforce, Business Central, UltiPro, and Excel)

Engineering your data as an added Power BI cost

Getting it right the first time is key. Rework will be required if connections are not made correctly.

Can you tell right from wrong? Validating data takes time.

As we stated above, rework is the #1 hidden cost.

#2 hidden cost is the time it takes to verify that the report is correct.

Don't be left hanging with a completed report that's showing incorrect information.

If your team isn't yet trained in fixing these issues, you'll have no choice but to pay for it to be fixed.

At the same time, the cost for your team to review their own data needs to be considered as an input to the project.

Each time rework happens, more time needs to be spent validating.

On-going costs of Power BI

You've published your first reports and dashboards and your team has started using them.

The costs that kick in at this stage are a combination of all of the above due to the following requests that are typical at this stage:

  • Data validation questions - Is this visual correct? I believe the sales were X for this week but I am seeing Y.
  • Updates to the reports - We need to see this KPI by department, and broken out by week as well. Also please filter out X from the view.
  • New reports - I can see from this dashboard that we need a new report based on this new view to better dive into the data.

These types of requests are very common and typically unavoidable.

As your team gets hands-on with Power BI new ideas and requests will come.

You will need to be able to service these requests in a cost-effective way to avoid budget overrun and to keep the costs contained.

Our approach for keeping these costs contained

The first thing we do for our clients is offer fixed pricing..

We utilize an agile approach allowing your team to provide feedback often & validate as we go.

Our team of data experts are able to validate reports quickly as the reports are built.

We have dashboard and report templates that allow us to build them quickly, with a Power BI knowledge library that allows us to tackle your important KPIs efficiently.

Experience is key. We can steer you and your team away from cost danger zones that we've seen happen before.

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