New Signature Analytics Nerds Share How Different Departments Use Power BI

November 15, 2019 New Signature

This piece was a joint-effort from some members of our internal Analytics Nerds team–Emma Barker, Romeo Florea, Stephanie Hilton and Vanessa Sclauzero

At New Signature, we are building an Analytics Center of Excellence made up of data– and analytics-minded people from different teams across the company. We meet biweekly to talk about the interesting things we are doing with Power BI, share tips and tricks, and help each other problem solve. 

Power BI can be used in so many ways to solve all kinds of problems. Our team, which we lovingly dubbed “The Analytics Nerds”, wanted to share a bit about how different parts of our organization leverage Power BI’s many functions.  

Vanessa – Scheduling 

In my role, I use Power BI to drive my scheduling and data analytics activities. Power BI allows me take raw data to the next level, creating easy-to-digest visualizations from complex databases created in Excel, Access and elsewhere. I use Power BI to present a searchable, sortable, drilldown-able 13-week view of our Pro Services work schedule for over 100 consultants. 

I built a Power BI report to parse and track data in a planned vs. actuals report that looks at what work was scheduled and how much of that time was worked to plan, and by whom, as well as calculate variances to goals. 

I use Power BI to create an interactive Utilization Dashboard for Pro Services consultants to track their progress to their individual utilization goals by pulling data directly from our timekeeping system. This Utilization Dashboard allows them to see how their time at work is spent at a glance, including on billable time, training, leave, and capability development. 

Power BI also helps me pull data generated by our Scheduling Request PowerApps tool from a long SharePoint list with a multitude of data points and present that data in a straightforward manner for easy reading.  

Stephanie – Operations 

In Operations, we use Power BI for all our central reporting. It provides us with one centralized location to house important realtime reporting on such things as timekeeping, utilization and scheduling. 

I personally use it as my first stop when I’m trying to answer questions about what our people are doing – who is busy and who needs some guidance to get busy. I have a realtime timekeeping dashboard that I rely on heavily. I look at it on Mondays, after timesheets are due, to make sure that nothing has gone off the rails. 

One of the most important functions of my role is making sure that our people do the work that we committed to in the forecast. If someone is scheduled for 40 billable hours in a week on a certain project, I need to make sure that 40 hours have been recorded. We have an important planned vs. actuals report that helps me monitor this. Because that report connects directly to our databases, all I have to do is pull up the report and look it over; my time is not spent digging through piles of raw data to figure out the planned vs. actual work status but is instead spent taking actions on what the data says. 

Power BI also puts all our reports in one place, making me more powerful in meetings, because I’m able to surface key metrics with ease while the conversation is happening. This helps business move forward without the delay of “let me look into that” interruptions.  

Romeo – Finance 

Power BI can store and access a massive amount of data without any issues. In the past, doing analyses of large data sets in Excel would constantly cause frustration with the program freezing up and crashing. It’s not meant to handle millions of rows of data; Power BI is. In Power BI, you can load millions of rows of data, scroll through them, and filter them with updated visuals reflecting the filters you have selected in mere seconds. 

Power BI Desktop comes with a bunch of visuals already created and ready to go.  By simply dragging and dropping the fields you want to show in the visual, you can create rapid visualizations. It only took a few clicks to create some easy-to-read visuals showing ad data trends. 

Being in finance, we handle a lot of sensitive data. Power BI has built-in row-level security features, so you can build one report and share it with everyone, but they will only be able to see the data that they should have access to. Building one report instead of separate reports for every access level without compromising data security is a win in our book!  

Emma – Marketing and Sales 

Power BI connects to both our marketing automation platform and customer relationship management system, so we can build one report that connects lead behavior all the way through the pipeline to opportunity outcomes. We can track which webinar topics people are interested in and whether attending a webinar has a positive correlation with whether they become one of our customers. 

Another super helpful feature of Power BI that I use all the time is how you can use a folder as a data source. Every month, I export data from Twitter and save that file in a folder called (you guessed it!) “Twitter. On the next refresh, Power BI pulls all of the data from that folder, including the latest file that I just added, and Power BI automatically goes through all of the same steps I set up initially to clean, transform, and filter all of the data together. 

By creating multiple folders as data sources (one for Twitter data, another for LinkedIn data, and so on) I was able to build one report with social analytics for all our social channels. And because Power BI automatically applies all of the clean, transform, and load steps that I defined when I set up the data source, the monthly lift is really light – all I have to do is export the data and save that file in the right folder. 

My other favorite part about Power BI is how you can build self-serve reports. Because Power BI can handle huge amounts of data, you can have all of that data in the background and provide your users with filters so that they can zero in on exactly what their question is. 

I’ve built a report where a sales team member can use a single filter to show only their own leads and opportunities. The sales folks can easily see how their leads are aging and leads that they have not followed up with are highlighted so they know where to take action next. 

I also really appreciate Power BI’s drill-through functionality. If a sales person sees a lead flagged as needing follow-up on that report, they can right click to “drill-through” to get more information about that specific lead – for example to see what marketing content they have engaged with, what events they have attended, or whether they have any previous opportunities with us. 

Without searching through an enormous pivot table or building an entirely new report, you can set a few filters to show you exactly what marketing content was viewed this week by leads that have been added in the last 3 months. 

Or how many opportunities were created by customers in a specific industry in 2018. 

Or the average time spent reading this very blog post when the reader came here from LinkedIn vs Twitter. 

Or just about any other question you can think of!  

As you can see, our Analytics Nerds leverage Power BI in many different departments and use different features to optimize their reporting, communication, and insights. If you’re interested in learning about how Power BI can be applied to your business departments, you can reach out to New Signature and set up a Customer Immersion Experience to take a hands-on tour through the tool.  


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