Power BI Dataflows: New and Improved

By May 6, 2020Data & AI

If you attended one of our Dashboard In A Day events earlier this year, you would have seen a brief demonstration of Power BI Dataflows, and what they can mean for an organisation. With the recent Microsoft update of Dataflows, now is a good time to familiarise yourself with this feature and learn how you can leverage it to improve the data culture in your organisation.

What Are Dataflows

If you have worked with Power BI before, then you are familiar with Power Query, which is the tool used for extracting, transforming, and loading data into a data model. Power Query allows you to connect to a variety of data sources and perform detailed transformations to manipulate data into the desired format needed to perform analysis.

Dataflows is an extension of this, in that it allows you to create these Power Query transformations and make them available across your organisations for repeatable use. This is important for two reasons:

  1. It scales data preparation, and eliminates the need for users to perform transformations again and again.
  2. It introduces a layer of governance in centralising and standardising data preparation assets.

Dataflows gives users access to clean, transformed data that they can rely on and re-use. This is vital in supporting self-service analytics in an organisation, as it provides users with the platform needed to access reliable and pre-configured data assets.

New Capabilities

Power BI has now introduced Endorsement capabilities into the Dataflows feature. Dataset endorsement capabilities have already been in use for some time and have proven very useful in establishing quality data culture in an organisation. With this capability now extended into Dataflows, quality data assets can now be more easily identified and shared across an organisation. Per the Endorsement principles, Dataflows can be marked for Promotion or Certification.

Promotion – tells users that the dataflow owner believes that this dataflow is good enough to be shared and reused. Users will need to have confidence in the dataflow owner to trust the quality of the dataflow.

Certification – tells users the dataflow has passed internal tests for quality per organisational policy. Only specified users are authorised to mark Dataflows as Certified.

Certified and Promoted Dataflows are marked with badges when users attempt to connect to them in Power BI Desktop:

This identification means that users can easily see which dataflows they should use to connect to when preparing reporting or analysis.

Why It’s Important

Endorsement is an important step in making Dataflows an enterprise-ready feature. With endorsement, an organisation must adopt a policy for reviewing and certifying data preparation assets. The introduction of this policy greatly improves the quality of data in an organisation, as only certified dataflows are being used for reporting and analytics outcomes.

Organisations that wish to promote a self-service environment will also benefit greatly from endorsed dataflows, as it reduces the need for dedicated resources to create and control data access. Instead, quality data assets can be centrally managed via Power BI and made available to the organisation to connect to and use. Users can rely on the quality of data, and do not need to perform any additional tasks to cleanse the data to get it ready for their analysis.

If you want to know how Dataflows can be used in your organisation, please contact us for more information.

Matthew Oen

Matthew Oen

Matthew is a consultant at FTS Data & AI. He specialises in Power BI architecture.

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