How to transit users from an existing reporting solution to Power BI?

With Power BI becoming more and more popular, it can be observed that organizations are trying to move their current reporting platform to a Power BI based solution. However, success of this migration is not mainly dependent of features of Power BI. The most important thing is how to make the adoption of Power BI success within the organization. You can find lots of articles about how an organization should rollout an adoption plan. For a start, refer below article by Microsoft Power BI team.

However, in this post, I am not going to talk about how to create an adoption plan and how to roll it out. You can find enough resources for that in internet. It is a long term, complex process. Rather I want to share my experience on how we have transit business users from existing reporting platform to Power BI. I hope it will help you if you are planning to replace your reporting solution from Power BI. There are certain things you can do to help your business users to get used to Power BI.

Do not fix what is not broken.

Existing reporting solution have already gone through so many iterations of development before it comes to current stage. it is not only about business logics, it’s about information available and how it is represented within reports as well. So, when you introduce Power BI reports, do not re-create all reports from the scratch. Try to cover what is available in current reports as much as possible. I know, it can be large table/matrix and might not be cool as fancy Power BI reports. However, if you change everything overnight, business users will struggle to cope with the changes. Give what they have being using so far in same format, may be same look and feeling. That is the first steps of a long journey, changes will come.

Understand how they extract insights from old reports.

Sometimes you might not understand until you talk with business users on how they extract insights from a lengthy report. They must be doing their own calculations by extracting data from current reports. I have seen this heavily as business users extract data and create own excel files for further analysis. Sometimes they have their own way of reading a lengthy paginated report. Help them by creating those analysis within Power BI. You can make those analysis as landing page of your report and replica of current view as detail view. Eventually business users will stop using the replica of current view as they do not want to perform analysis by their own. It will be a slow process to distant them from old way of analysing data.

Monitor the usage.

Monitor the usage of reports from Power BI Admin portal. That way you can identify who is using which section of the report mostly. If you succeed previous step, you should see a pattern where users spend more time in summarize or insight pages you introduced to them and less time on replica of previous reports. If that is not the case, have discussion with them and see what is not working for them. Why do they feel that still they need to go to old way of analysing the data? Get their feedbacks on how the report should look like and evolve the reports you created based on those feedbacks.


It does not matter how cool the Power BI report you created, if business users cannot extract the information they want. In most cases, it is not your newly created report pages do not provide information, it’s just they can’t understand how it works. Conduct workshops within your business users. Show them how new reports works and show them how to extract insights from those report pages rather than going to replica of old reports.

Be upfront about limitations and provide alternative solutions.

When business users come from one reporting platform to another, first thing they do is compare two and see how to do certain things they did in previous platform now. Help them with the comparison and train them how achieve those functionalities in Power BI. There could be instance where some of those features are not available in Power BI. For example, people who use Macro in excel reporting might want to use old macro they have been used in Power BI. Be upfront about it and work out a solution for it. If something is achievable using a workaround, explain those in workshops you do to transit business users.

Lots of training

I believe training is the key. You just cannot implement Power BI in an organization without giving them comprehensive training to users on how to use it. When you organize training, remember that it is not one shoe fits everyone scenario. Within an organization there are different kinds of Power BI user groups.

  • Business Users – Who do not create reports or dashboards. Other people create report and they only analyze, drilldown to details. This category only require training on how to use Power BI to get insights and how to share content between others. Business users such as top management of an organization is a good example for this category.
  • Power BI Developers- Users who creates reports/models for business users. They are the users who write m-queries, build models, and create complex measures using DAX. They need advance training on things like data modelling, DAX, and 3rd party tools, etc.
  • Power BI Admin- People who administrate Power tenant might seems like a very small group. May be only a couple of users. Nevertheless, they are the guardians of the most valuable asserts of an organization. the DATA! Providing proper training on how to administrate the tenant has paramount importance.

Based on these categories, organize customized trainings to business users. In the training, try to use actual data, or data familiar to business users as much as possible. That will make the trainings more interesting.

Identify Super users

Within a group or department, you will be able to identify people who are keen on the transition and able to adapt to Power BI quickly than others. We normally called these business users as super users. Recognize them among other users and help them as much as possible with their queries. Once they are on board, they can surely help to other users within the group/ department. In other words, they will be the go-to person within a group. Business users are more comfortable with talking and getting assistance from people within their group rather than IT department. If we go future ahead, we can train them to be trainers within an organization so they will conduct Power BI trainings within the group.

Again, I know how hard it is to move business users from a reporting solution to Power BI. But it is not an overnight process. You cannot expect everyone will onboard in the same phase as well. Follow these steps and try to understand business users by collecting continuous feedback. If you have more ideas which has worked for you, please comment below so it would help everyone. Thanks for reading, Stay safe, Cheers!

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