Creating a Product using PowerBI?

In order to showcase ability using PowerBI dashboards, I was looking for ideas of what exactly can be done and displayed as a project. Thinking about the Dashboard as a product is also a topic widely discussed on Quora, Twitter and and other social media boards.

When looking for ideas that might appeal to businesses, I think showing your capabilities might be a great first step. The business need will emerge during the conversation and understanding the process. There are few solutions that were created by Microsoft that might give the initial ideas for dashboards you might build as products:

Departments | Microsoft Power BI

Other than that, I think about the customers needs, if it is a specific industry, such as healthcare, think about what they would like to know, which questions they would ask and where is this data located. Use one of the many free public data repositories to showcase and build the dashboards.

If you are into showing your capabilities there are some ideas I might be helpful with

I have build my resume (Yana Berkovich Product Manager) using powerBI and have a lecture of how it was done (

 Many customers will appreciate dashboards with live data relevant to their business.

The dashboard Link

The “holy grail” of this specific search for product based on PowerBI, is the live data. There are many free data sets that can be used for a dashboard that is no live. In the powerBI community there is a link for data sets of this sort. my-favorite-public-data-sources

There are also not live connections that can be used – for example, you can download all your tweets data as an Excel file, it is available from Twitter, for 90 days, and use it for any data queries and visualizations as a static data source. You can connect to the Twitter live feed using API or other synchronization option.

Live data sets are more scarce and tend to be associated with cost. So when I had the brilliant idea of connecting the NHL or NFL results and data about players, it appeared to be blocked and the membership fees for a direct API access were pretty hefty. The traffic volume is simply going to be too high for them to maintain I suppose. This also means that the demand for data analytics and data visualization solutions in those areas is pretty high as well (there are several movies about that part…)

What are we left with?

Dashboard templates – If you already have a specific data set, for example lab tests, you can create a dashboard that has in mind not only the specific client but general for the industry. In my examples I use a data set for engine oil tests. When creating the dashboard for roughly 700 sample tests, I am thinking about other companies that can reuse the solution to visualize their data, by merely connecting their data set. The problem is off course the different fields and definitions. Changing the query might prove to be more difficult than adding the visualizations from scratch.

My thoughts on the technical aspects of manuall migration of an Access or other legacy forms application

Divide the migration to 3 different parts:

  1. The governance & Process flow
  2. The content- migrating the data
  3. The interface

Governance, planning and process flow

First of all decide what is going to be migrated and create a migration map and a document containing all the information.

Before any migration to the cloud I would like to refer you to the following article: Five pitfalls to avoid when migrating to the cloud

The most important one is: do not forget the what? who? and why business users are going to use it.

The simple understanding of who access what? which users are going to use this application and how? have a basic process flow and well defined personas for your application. If it is big enough, user stories will be needed as well.

After reviewing those topics you would be able to figure out the SharePoint solution architecture vs the existing one in Access. The how will be cleared, should you use several lists? how about groups? sites? PowerApps? maybe several pages just for the view and some custom made buttons?

2. Migrating the data –

    1. Create the data repositories – the lists, you can export the Access data by tables to Excel.
    2. SharePoint, unlike Access, is not a relational Data Base, that means that the data should be not normalized and hierarchy’s are not going to work the same unless a custom solution is applied.
    3. The easiest way is using the quick edit mode on a pre-created tables – yes that means basically rebuilding the Access solution

3. Migrating the interface

Prepare the solution – the data is going to reside in SharePoint lists? the access is going to be through list forms? another 3rd party solution? What is the user interface going to look like?

I would recommend to use Power Apps in order to achieve the forms look and feel and enjoy the benefits of the flow for any business rules you have mapped in the first part. The Power Apps can be connected to several data sources, hence creating the illusion of a relational DB after all. A very important tip, make all your editing in Power Apps desktop application. The online version is a bit, sneaky ;-).

Also on Quora

Creating my story with Data

So I was looking to make my resume stand out while presenting my skills with the new and shiny PowerBI. (my powerBI page in my site)

I was inspired by an article, Business Insider has created about Marissa Mayers resume.

So I have continued, just like with any other product, using my Business Analysis skills:

Defining the the Business need​:

  • Who is the audience?
    • Potential employer/customer
    • People I am looking to impress
  • Why I want them to see it? ​
    • To show case my skills with PowerBI
    • Look into the details of my resume without getting bored
  • What do I want to  show them? ​
    • How can I tell a story using data

Now that I know what is going to be part of my story with data, I have started to think about the technical aspect.

Technical requirements  ​

  • Real time update? Custom visuals? Sharing? Mobile? ​

​The real time update won’t be necessary, once a month I will update my current work status and the dashboard can be updated within 24 hours. My subscription (pro) allows up to 8 scheduled updates a day, with an hour minimum intervals. I can also manually refresh and republish the dashboard if this is a live demo. The reports were created for my web page, which is built using HTML CSS and some JS for the fun parts. The design is responsive but I will not create separate mobile version of the data visualizations. The out of the box PowerBI versions seemed too look fine in the mobile browser. Since the target audience is going to watch from the browser and not from the PowerBI mobile app as this is not a link to the dashboard but an embedded report.

Designing the solution

What do I need?

  1. Data Source to create a data set –
    • I have used first a google docs table but it had one problem, it was not saved as a table and I needed to save it again from scratch.
    • I have used a SharePoint list, but discovered that this cannot yet be a direct data source (this was done just a month before it became an option 🙂 )
    • I have used an Excel file, that is saved in a SharePoint library and is accessible publicly. (it’s called One Drive bc I have first saved it there and than moved to the SP library. It works from One drive the same way) I have connected this as a data source in PowerBI, after saving the data in the Excel as a table which is very important to make the spreadsheet a valid data source.
      The data source contains a line for each month since my graduation and starting my career, September 2005 till today (March 2017). In each line, I have shown my work location, the field, technologies I have been working with, company I have worked for and off course the job title.
  2. Report/Reports
    Based on the data-set I have created a new report:
    2.1 dragged the first data visualization I have chosen, the map, checked the columns from the table indicating location and
    2.2 Chose the next visualization the Treemap, chose the Group as the Location city, the Values as Count of Workplace (which will count the number of times the specific workplace is displayed in the rows)
    2.3 Dragged the bar-chart visual to have the information regarding my experience in each industry type to be presented.
    The Treemap visualization filter selection can be seen here:
  3. Publish option –

I have saved the report in my PowerBI account, that means it was uploaded to my storage, the PowerBI API library, on my Office365 account. After which I have chosen in the menu File-> Publish to web
PowerBI have opened a wizard, where I could choose the option of embedding in my WebSite. The result was the following: 

This is what I have pasted in the HTML code of my WebSite:

<div class=”container”>
<div class=”row”>
<iframe width=”800″ height=”600″ src=”https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiZTY4Y2M4NTktMjZmMS00ZWEwLTkyZmQtMDliMmMyZjRjYmVjIiwidCI6IjAyMTJmZDNkLWQ1ZGYtNGVkNy05NzYyLTQ5ZGRmZDQ1ZGM1MCIsImMiOjZ9″ frameborder=”0″ allowFullScreen=”true”></iframe>
</div>
<div class=”row”>
<div class=”col s12″>
<iframe width=”800″ height=”600″ src=”https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiN2NjZDIzMjUtNThjNC00YTUzLThhNDgtMDBlMmM2ZGYzNzVkIiwidCI6IjAyMTJmZDNkLWQ1ZGYtNGVkNy05NzYyLTQ5ZGRmZDQ1ZGM1MCIsImMiOjZ9″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen=”true”></iframe>
</div>
<div class=”col s12″>
<h2 class=”text_h2″> MY PowerBI Twitter Feed </h2>
<a class=”twitter-timeline” href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23PowerBI%20from%3Ayana_berkovich” data-widget-id=”843961672100274176″>Tweets about #PowerBI from:yana_berkovich</a>
<script>!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+”://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);</script>
</div>
</div>
</div>

The last div is for the Twitter feed related to PowerBI that I have created, just to add this is just for fun and actually works! 🙂

Testing ​

  • Hi there, have you seen my page yet? (5 AM Israel time is 7 PM in Vancouver…)​ I have asked people with different browsers and used the chrome different sizing option to test in different screen sizes. (There are still some problems with the top links in my site but that’s not part of the PowerBI topic…so next post)

Requirements gathering featuring myself as the business user is a very interesting experience; Documentation is still important! (Otherwise it takes you forwever to find the right report.​

The page link: http://yanaberkovich.com/powerBI.html ​

The link to the lightning session

Let’s talk about workflows

Writing the word Workflow in the SharePoint online section of the office store, resulted 92 (!) different apps. So let’s check what we have got.

First of all why do you need the workflow? what should it be doing?

If the answer is everything well, there are the most famous in the market – Nintex workflow, they do come with a price tag. Nintex Workflow for Office 365 enjoy, I know I did when my client could afford them.

There are less expensive tools that are created to give similar functionalities such as: UMT360 Workflow Visualization, K2 blackpearl for SharePoint (never worked with them so I cannot form an opinion just mentioning).

Another great solution, is easier to implement and has several workflows built in, for almost end user to be able to configure: Infowise Smart Action Pro Infowise are very well positioned company, they have several working and user friendly solutions, I had the privilege to work with their tools and if they cater to your requirements would highly recommend.

For the rest of the tools available, I have never worked with directly, so lets divide them into categories:

  1. HR/Payroll related workflows: KasPer Pro HR with Self Service
    1. Track vacations Holiday Authorization Management, Leave Request Pro
    2. Policies confirmation SP Employee OnBoarding
    3. Expenses tracking – Expense Approval Pro , Expense Management for SMEs
  2. Specific process/occupation related workflows
    1. Clinic – medicine processes – Clinic App
    2. Budget management – Budget Workflow Manager
    3. Travel management – Travel Request System
    4. Replacing CRM – KasCur Pro CRM
    5. There are more
  3. Managing your workflows: Workflow Manager
  4. Workflows with project or project related content: Actionspace: Tasks-Projects-Workflows (SharePoint), Project Documentation
  5. Form Based workflows – (You can use Info path but this has probably less functionalities with better graphic)
    1. FlowForma – Business Process Enablement Tool
    2. TeamWorkPath

Finally, in the army we had a list workflow, set from the 3 stages workflow and some customization using SP designer on a form, to get your commander approval signature for taking a weapon from the weaponry. Later we have “upgraded” the form to infopath so the units symbol could be added. I doubt we can find something like this in the online store but it was a workflow I have created, so it is all about what, and who you actually need to support with the workflow.

(Also published on Quora)

Office 365 groups Life-cycle

The Group for Office 365 is more of a new way to call a Team Site.

Although it is a distribution list, just like and Outlook group, it has the following features just like any other SharePoint site:

· Document Library for storing and working on group files and folders

· OneNote notebook for taking project and meeting notes

· Planning tool for organizing and assigning tasks and getting updates on project progress

You can find more information right here in Microsoft’s site:

http://en.share-gate.com/blog/gr…

Groups have a similar life-cycle to any other SharePoint site:

To determine whether the groups are the right solution for your business need and organization, you can use this wonderful blog post:

http://www.neroblanco.co.uk/2016…

As in any SharePoint site, prior to opening the group, there are few things that have to be established for the process:

Good luck and share the group experience with me!

(was published in Quora )

Google Apps and Office 365, where are the great “office wars” now?

At first it was about Google penetrating to the the office software market dominated by Microsoft. I remember the discussions in large organizations about Microsoft licensing annual reviews, “we will tell them we can install and use Google now!” the managers used to say. I was always interested if those things were really said behind the close doors of the negotiation tables or it was just to make us cringe in the IT department anticipating the user adoption mess that will emerge as a result.

The question has recently changed, it was a question of cloud vs on premise. Today, the battle field has completely changed and it is becoming more and more a functionality, ease of use user adoption and tactics.

The “office war”, the tool that is most widely used in the offices. The main issue with moving from Microsoft Office to Google is the adoption and the perception of the information as something that belongs to “me” (myself as a worker/ the team/ the organization). Most of the people, this is an assumption without fact checking based on personal experience working across industries in 2 countries, are currently writing documents and email on their desktops and in an on-premise Outlook. Switching to Google will create 2 new experiences for the users:

  1. Changing habits – they know how to work with Outlook, they don’t want to work with something new, some even complain when the cruel IT people are updating the version. as mentioned in Computerworld essay: ”You can mess up elsewhere, but bring down people’s e-mail and you’ll start getting irate calls literally in seconds.” (Corporate e-mail in the cloud: Google vs. Microsoft)
  2. Changing perception – of a tool a tool that they have worked with in their home, a private tool for a private use, in their office.
  3. Changing the data ownership – everybody is listening to the media, telling how much Google stores all the data and uses the data, so many managers have hesitation whether or not move to a google based tools fearing that the information will leak.

All those changes is something that employees don’t tend to like, especially employees in large organizations, that find it sometimes difficult adjusting to new tools daily.

All this might change now, when Microsoft has created it’s online 365 solution and some businesses, especially the small once, have switched to the cloud solution. Now Google has a better chance, in my opinion, because it let’s Microsoft to shift the habit and the core assumption for the large corporations that data has always have to reside on premise and the cloud is a dangerous place. Once more and more organizations switch to Office 365 partially or completely, the question which is better? Google or Microsoft? or maybe another cloud based solution? shifts to Googles playground.

(from Quora)