Learn about the fundamentals of data governance to keep your data safe and healthy with this multi-part series.
Power BI Governance: What leaders need to know in 2023!
Find out why governance processes, policies, and rules are no longer optional for sustainable growth.
In recent years, Power BI has become one of the most widely used business intelligence (BI) tools, but it's more than just a reporting tool; it is a comprehensive analytical platform that enables users to collaborate on data insights and share them internally and externally. And this is being extended with the introduction of Microsoft Fabric earlier this year.
In addition to creating reports and dashboards, Power BI allows users to collaborate and share their work with others. For instance, users can share dashboards with their colleagues, allowing them to view, interact, and engage with the data quickly. However, as more organizations adopt Power BI, it becomes essential to ensure appropriate governance processes, policies, and rules are in place.
This blog post explains Power BI governance and why leaders and business owners need to understand and be conscious of it. But it's not just Power BI that these principles apply to - whether you're using another reporting product or have started using Microsoft Fabric, the insights below will help to set you up for success.
Governance for Power BI, or Fabric
Power BI governance refers to a set of processes, policies, and standards that organizations put in place to manage and control the use of Power BI. Governance is critical to ensure that the use of Power BI is aligned with the organization’s objectives and strategy, complies with relevant regulations and standards, and protects sensitive data.
Governance encompasses several areas, including security, data management, compliance, and user management. It also involves defining data access, sharing, security, and compliance guidelines within Power BI. This includes defining roles and permissions for users, specifying approved data sources that can be used, and ensuring that the data is accurate, up-to-date, and secure across the organization.
In addition, Power BI governance involves monitoring and auditing the use of Power BI to ensure that it is being used appropriately and in compliance with the organization’s policies. Lack of Power BI governance can impact businesses in various negative ways, so it is important that everyone within the organization, especially the managerial teams, has a good understanding of how they can benefit from supporting the establishment of Power BI governance across the organization.
Why good governance matters
Below are some of the key areas that good governance can help your organization:
- Better decision-making
With Power BI governance in place, organizations can ensure that the data used in decision-making is accurate, consistent, and trustworthy. This can help leaders make informed decisions based on reliable data insights.
- Improved security and compliance
Power BI governance helps to establish security measures to protect sensitive data and ensure compliance with regulations and industry standards. This helps to avoid costly data breaches and non-compliance penalties.
- Efficient use of resources
By establishing guidelines for roles and responsibilities, data access, sharing, and storage, Power BI governance can help organizations use their resources more efficiently. This can result in cost savings and improved productivity.
- Enhanced collaboration
Having Power BI governance policies helps leaders and business owners to promote collaboration and communication among team members. This can result in improved teamwork and better outcomes for the organization.
- Better management and control
Power BI governance helps organizations to manage and control the use of Power BI within the organization. This can help them ensure that the tool is being used effectively and efficiently and that data is being used in a way that aligns with their business objectives.
What happens without investment
Without proper governance in place, the organization may face the following challenges:
- Data quality issues
If users can access any data source without validation or verification, they may use inaccurate, incomplete, or outdated data for their reports. This can lead to incorrect insights, erroneous conclusions and actions that may harm the organization or its customers.
- Data security issues
Users who share data and reports without restrictions or permission controls may expose sensitive or confidential information to unauthorised parties. This can result in data breaches, compliance violations, reputational damage, or legal liabilities.
- Inconsistent data spread issues
The users who can create and publish reports without standards or guidelines may generate redundant, inconsistent, and slow reports that clutter the Power BI workspace. This can confuse users who need to find relevant information quickly and waste valuable time.
- Data governance issues
If users can operate without accountability or oversight from IT or business leaders who own the data assets they use for reporting purposes, they may misuse or abuse the data for their agendas. This can undermine trust among stakeholders who rely on accurate and consistent data for decision-making.
While the above reasons give the decision-makers a good ground to take Power BI governance seriously, you may ask what areas you should look at and what kind of assurance they should seek. Organizations need to be conscious of Power BI governance to avoid these challenges and risks and implement a framework that balances user empowerment with organizational control.
Putting in place a governance framework
A good Power BI governance framework should include the following:
This is a crucial aspect of Power BI governance. Power BI can contain sensitive data that needs to be protected from unauthorised access, manipulation, or theft. The business must ensure that the appropriate security measures are in place to secure data in Power BI. This includes setting up access controls, creating data security policies, and implementing encryption.
- Data management
Data management is another important aspect of Power BI governance. The business must ensure that the data used in Power BI is accurate, reliable, and up to date. A well-designed fancy dashboard is worth nothing if it does not reflect an accurate business picture. Incorrect information erodes trust.
Another critical area of Power BI governance is compliance. Business owners must ensure that Power BI complies with relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards. This includes data privacy regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA, industry standards, and internal policies and procedures.
- User management
This is another crucial aspect of Power BI governance. Business owners must be assured that user access and permissions are correct and managed efficiently to ensure the users can only access the data they need to perform their job.
- Usage Monitoring
organizations should monitor the usage of Power BI reports and dashboards to ensure that they are used appropriately and that any issues are quickly identified and addressed. This includes monitoring user activity, data refreshes, and performance metrics.
Effective training ensures employees use Power BI effectively and comply with organizational policies. organizations should guide on using Power BI and ongoing training to support and ensure employees’ knowledge is current on best practices and new features.
Documentation is an essential aspect of Power BI governance. It helps organizations manage their Power BI platform is implemented and maintained effectively and complies with their policies and procedures. It also reduces the interpretation of disparate information about Power BI implementation across the business. Documentation includes policies and procedures, data sources, reports, dashboards and all other artefacts available in Power BI. It also includes users and their permissions.
Organizations need to be conscious of Power BI governance because it can significantly impact their success. Proper governance ensures that Power BI, and new tools such as Fabric, are used effectively and efficiently to achieve business objectives while protecting sensitive data and complying with regulations.
Failure to implement proper governance can result in data breaches, regulatory fines, loss of trust, and damage to the organization’s reputation.