Power BI is a cloud service. There are two sides to the cloud services coin….

Heads – “Cloud services have fantastic redundancy, performance and support. You also only pay for what you’re using.” – Great

Tails – “It’s a closed system, we have no idea what’s going on under the hood. How can I manage performance?” – Not so great

No matter what opinion you agree with there are important actions you can and should be taking to effectively control usage of Power BI within your organisation.

Error Handling

Power BI dataset refreshes can fail. Reports can take increasingly longer to run and refresh their data. How we capture that metadata and act upon it is important. The last thing you want is your customers being the first to raise errors or performance problems.

Content

With Power BI’s individual licensing model it’s very easy for employees in an organisation to start using it and produce meaningful content without much involvement from management or a central IT or data department. This is great for user adoption and making the best use of tools and capabilities available! However it also poses the challenge of keeping track of what content is being produced and ensuring there is no duplication of effort / data silos within the organisation – this is where many different people or teams end up producing similar content with variations on calculations making a single source of truth difficult to maintain.

So how do I successfully manage Power BI?

The Power BI Admin Portal is your first port of call for top-level configurations and usage statistics. This comes with the caveat that you need to be assigned the Power BI Administrator role in Active Directory.

For a long time this role was tied closely to Azure Active Directory permissions and as such would only be held by a Global Administrator due to the additional reach the role would allow.

That’s not the case now and you can be a Power BI Administrator without impacting your Active Directory permissions or any other aspect of Azure.

The main appeal of the Admin Portal here is the usage stats. You can monitor users and workspaces and report usage across your organisation giving a good indication of user engagement with content. This is also where we manage organisation-wide settings such as the ability for users to publish content externally.

The REST API

This is a route that many will shy away from but is in fact the most powerful way to manage almost every aspect of your Power BI service. Made more powerful if you hold the Power BI Administrator role as it will allow to you access and set content information across the entire organisation, not just the content you have direct permissions on.

Microsoft have provided great documentation around the Power BI REST API, detailing all capabilities, how to call the API endpoints and drive expected results. One of the easiest ways to get started with using the REST API is through the Microsoft Power BI Management PowerShell module which can be found in the PowerShell gallery. The module also has good documentation with the source code shared on GitHub.

You can also use the REST API through Microsoft Flow by setting up a custom connector. This opens a wealth of capabilities around business processes, approvals and so much more.

Moving forward

Although there isn’t a complete built-in solution for managing all aspects of Power BI yet, there are easy processes that can be set up to keep track and allow your organisations to react and resolve issues before customers and users are adversely affected.

Discover more information about Incremental’s Power BI services and how we can help with your Power BI governance.