Follow this step-by-step guide on creating and customizing dashboards in Microsoft’s Power BI. You will also learn how to configure and manage dashboard alerts.
Microsoft’s Power BI dashboards tell a story and reveal key insights and patterns that might otherwise be lost in datasheets. With dashboards, organizations can make better, more informed, and faster decisions. The good news is that you don’t need to be a computer expert to create a Power BI dashboard.
Dashboards can be created in Power BI from one or more reports by importing datasets or duplicating an existing dashboard. Unlike reports, which can have multiple pages, dashboards are a single-page canvas. These dashboards can be updated to show the latest data, but they cannot be filtered like reports, nor edited.
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Things to consider before creating a dashboard in Power BI
Before you create a dashboard, you need to think about what information you need to highlight. For example, a sales-focused organization might want their dashboard to include data on total sales, top selling products, sales over time, units per sale, sales by region, and top segments.
In addition, each organization must customize its dashboard according to its objectives, operations and efficiencies; there is no single solution or approach.
An important note is that Dashboards are a Power BI service and are not available in Power BI Desktop.
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How to create a dashboard from a report
Dashboards are created from reports. If you don’t have your reports in Power BI, you can import your dataset as an Excel file.
How to import your Excel dataset file
- Open the Power BI service in your browser.
- In the navigation pane, select My Workspace, then click Get Data at the bottom of the menu.
- Under Files, select Get.
- Find your Excel file and click Connect.
- Select Import and the file will be automatically imported.
Build a dashboard from a report
Now that you have your Power BI report, you can start building your dashboard. Dashboards are created by pinning tiles from a report to a new dashboard. It is possible to pin an entire report to a dashboard or pin individual tiles from one or more reports.
How to build a dashboard
- Select and open the Excel file report that will be part of the new dashboard.
- Select More options (…) > Edit, to open the report in Editing view.
- Hover over a visualization, this will reveal the hidden options. Select the pin icon to add the tile to the dashboard (Figure A).
- Select New Dashboard, then name it (Figure B).
- Click Go to Dashboard.
The tile you pinned should now be the only visualization in your new dashboard. To pin more tiles, return to a report and repeat the process. When adding more tiles, remember to click Existing Dashboard and select the name of your new dashboard from the drop-down menu.
How to design a dashboard in Power BI
Once tiles are added to a Power BI dashboard, they can be easily edited and customized. To resize the tiles, the bottom right corner of the tile needs to be dragged, just like resizing an image on a photo editor. The placement, appearance, and behavior of titles can also be changed.
How to change thumbnail title
- Select the More Options menu (…) found in the upper right corner of the title.
- Select Edit Details to open the Mosaic Details window.
- Edit the thumbnail title and add a subtitle if needed.
In the same Thumbnail Details window, users can modify the behavior of the thumbnail. Power BI sets the default behavior for each tile to direct users to the source report. However, this behavior can be changed to direct users to another dashboard or report by changing the default hyperlink in the Tile Details window.
How to change the behavior of a tile
- In the Mosaic Details window, select Set Custom Link.
- Select Link and select where you want the tile to redirect users to from the drop-down menu.
- Select Apply.
Dashboards are synonymous with clear information. Charts, tables and other types of visualizations are essential. There is a wide range of visualizations available on Power BI that can be combined to create a dashboard that not only looks good, but boosts performance and analysis.
How to change the visualization type of a tile
- Open the report containing the visualization you want to modify.
- Select the visualization to make it active. Note that when the visualization is selected, it should show handles and a border.
- In the Visualizations pane, find and select the new type of visualization.
- Pin the tile with the new visualization to your dashboard by clicking the Pin icon.
Through the More options (…) menu, users can also add comments, copy the visual as an image, open in focus mode, export, view information, remove title, and manage alerts.
How to set alerts in Power BI
Alerts are a useful feature for Power BI dashboards. Each tile can manage alerts, and these can be available to anyone with access to the dashboard. For example, a logistics manager can set up custom alerts for each worker at different locations to keep a supply chain running smoothly. Alerts are sent to the Power BI notification center, but users can also configure alerts to be sent to emails.
How to set and manage alerts
- Select the More options menu (…).
- Click Manage Alerts.
- Click Add Alert Rule. Make sure the Active switch is set to On (Figure C).
- Set the threshold for the alert. Thresholds can be upper, lower or specific.
- Set the frequency of the alert.
- Save and close.
The theme of a dashboard can also be changed. Power BI offers three themes to choose from: light, dark, or colorblind. A dashboard theme can also be customized by selecting the Custom Theme option. To change the theme, select the edit drop-down menu, then the Dashboard theme, choose the theme, and click Save (Figure D).
As terminals become the new workplace, dashboards need to work effectively on all devices, including mobile. With Power BI, users can customize a dashboard for mobile viewing.
How to Customize a Dashboard for Mobile View
- Select Show, then click Mobile Layout.
- Power BI will show you an emulated mobile version of the dashboard. Here you can resize tiles, change information and move tiles. The mobile view can also be customized according to the different devices used to display the dashboard.
Power BI offers several more advanced features for dashboards. From setting up real-time data to classifying data or tracking sales, every organization can make the most of their data by building their dashboard.