When you are running multiple projects concurrently, preparing your weekly status reports can be quite time-consuming and take you away from more important issues that need your attention. With the tools at our disposal today, there is little reason why project status reporting and delivery cannot be automated, at least partially. This post will describe the key steps you need to do in order to use Power BI to prepare and deliver your project status reports (almost) automatically.
Solidify Your Data Source(s) & Refresh Schedules
Obviously you cannot to a project status report without relying on some type of information store. Most organizations will have some type of professional services automation (PSA) tool of which some (if not most/all) project information is kept. Power BI is an incredibly flexible tool that is able to connect to a multitude of data sources which means there is a good chance that whatever you’re tracking your project information in that Power BI will be able to connect to and report on that data. Maybe you have a few places you’re tracking information for your project (example: online PSA tool for your schedule but an offline Excel spreadsheet for your issue and risk logs). No problem – Power BI can connect to both pieces of data, marry them up (you will need to have some sort of a common identifier such as a project ID) and report on them in the tool as if they were coming from the same place. Once you’ve created your dataset, determine the appropriate level of data refreshing that needs to happen and set your schedule in the Power BI interface.
Determine the Delivery Format
Work with your customers to determine the most appropriate and useful format for which they need their status reports delivered. Power BI offers a range of options that can be used. Out of the box, Power BI online offers PDF and PowerPoint exports of reports which can be done directly by the consumer of the report (i.e. your customer). Alternatively, for more tech savvy customers, you can embed a link to the Power BI report directly into a SharePoint page (perhaps the customer has a SharePoint site dedicated to the project that you can have your online report be part of). Finally, if need be, the customer can access the report directly online as needed by simply navigating to the Power BI online site and viewing the report (provided you have shared it out with the customer).
Project status reporting is something vital to the continued success of your project by way of ensuring transparent and timely communications with your customer. Preparing your status report however is something that mainly comprises of data aggregation and little authoring. By utilizing a tool such as Power BI to automate the bulk of your status reporting, you are freeing yourself (or your project management team) up to focus on more important tasks such as actually running your project.