Many of our customers across Canada – in Calgary, Edmonton, and Saskatoon have been switching over to the budget friendly Microsoft Power BI toolset for reporting and data analytics.

There are lots of things to love about this easy to use tool but when I think of Power BI functionality I think Microsoft must have asked the question “What are the key features (the 20%) of all the best reporting tools that 80% of the users use all of the time?” Then they went to work delivering only that 20% and very little more. I think of this when I see users trying to print a report or export to PDF. You cannot do a full printout of a report – but only a screen capture of the first page. Maybe the intention behind this was to really get more users logging into the reports online, maybe the idea is to save trees and reduce printing. Or is this is another example of Microsoft reducing development efforts and choosing to implement only bare necessities?

Another example of this is the ability to add in subtotal within a chart – but then not being able to customize the name of that subtotal to include the field that is actually being subtotaled. So you end up with something like this:

ProvinceCitySales (kg)Inventory (kg)
Red Deer3087
 Province Total95297
Prince Albert622
 Province Total1967

This works, you can see the total, but if you have a long list of cities you have to scroll back up to see that you’re looking at Alberta and not British Columbia or Saskatchewan. There is no was to customize the total to ‘Alberta Total’ for example. We can’t complain too loudly, and there are often

In the next post I’ll focus more on what Power BI can do and how to really get some of the best use out of this great dashboarding tool. For now though I will go on believing that the Microsoft management team chose to implement features thinking of the 80/20 rule and what 80% of the reporting features are used rather than developing the perfect tool. In doing so they have successfully delivered a very popular tool with many features and just a few limitations.