Simple and customizable financial dashboards, built in Power BI!
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Hey there everybody, what's happening! Jack Tompkins with Pineapple Consulting Firm. Data dashboards are very important. Financial dashboards are even more important. Financial dashboards in Power BI, that's what we're going to dive into okay? So let's pop it open and talk about some pros and cons and some “how to's”.
Okay so here we are in Power BI. This is a published version so it looks a little bit bigger than you would see on the back end. Of course if you're not familiar with Power BI, it is Microsoft's business intelligence tool. It is very similar to the likes of Tableau or Google's version which is called Google Looker Studio and about a dozen other ones out there. Power BI is one of the best, some argue that it is the best. It is a very clean dashboard. We are going to cover some tricks of the trade, some overall layout tips and then some pros and cons, comparing within the Microsoft world at least, against something like Excel. So let's dive in quickly to the back end, like this.
So if I move my face a little bit as you can see, same dashboard here, and then everything that you would assume is a separate entity is truly a separate entity (as you can see as I'm hovering over all of these things here). So in order to build something like this, your data will come in over here. These are different tables with each of the different columns located in here as well. To create a visual, you can just click on a visual and Power BI will find a spot for it. You can always adjust it of course and then it's just a drag and drop of columns into the x-axis y-axis, legend etc. etc. etc. So we're going to remove that and all of this is click and drag.
There are some formulas that you will need to create to do something like this and for most dashboards. Those are found at the top here in the modeling section. I have this kind of scrunched but it's either a new measure or a new column so that's where you create your sort of formulas and then the thing that I'm hiding here is filters. So if you want any filters on the page, you can set filters for specific visuals of course as well. So this is the overall back end, filters, what kind of graph are we talking about and all of the design happens in this visualization section. Lastly, fields, this is where your tables and your actual metrics and columns are located.
So back to the bigger version, and I'm going to move my face a little bit here. Okay so that's sort of the overview “how to”. Obviously not a detailed one but at least paints the overall picture and some dashboard tips and tricks in terms of layout. I'm a big big fan of starting with a few KPIs. I always ask businesses what is the one big thing that we're focusing on. This is a financial dashboard and you could say the one big thing is probably revenue. Now it doesn't mean the dashboard is exclusively revenue of course. A very common secondary metric if you will or secondary focus is net profit. So we've got those up here as KPIs. So for the selected month, we've got our revenue total and it's in green because we beat our goal by 20 or so percent. Net profit is also in green because we crushed our goal of only nineteen thousand. So big fan of starting with that. It kind of sets the tone for the whole dashboard and it also clues the viewer in to what we are looking at and what's important on this dashboard.
So you'll notice the use of blue, the same dark blue color, the pineapple blue color, is used in revenue. It is the revenue bar in this bar graph, it is the “by product” and “by customer” breakout too. So all that cues you in to is “okay this is revenue related and even the stuff down here”. Usage of color is very very important in any dashboard really and very easy to do in Power BI. Second you'll notice that in our trend graph, this lighter color is net profit. So we've got a trend graph, which I am a huge huge fan of. if you've got your KPIs, which are these guys up here, let's trend them over time. That way we have some context around them and that way we can see, great, we know we beat our goal for the month but what does that look like in the scope of the year or 12 months or if this is weekly in four weeks or whatever. Any sort of context is very important with trend graphs.
Down here, we're going to net profit from revenue, well what else has happened? Where are we spending money? So this is a line of cost of goods sold and expense as a percent of revenue and just trending that over time as well. Again, giving really good context now since we're focused on revenue. Mostly we've got this revenue by product and revenue by customer; very important breakdowns. Pretty generic things right? Obviously this is a sample company with sample data so we created something that's applicable to most people breaking revenue down by product. Super helpful.
Then that leads to the business questions of do we want product B and C to be our stars? What's going on with product A? Are we okay with that being just one thousand dollars? Then revenue by customer, again are we good? Do we like that customer 35 is our leading contender? Looks like we've got a pretty good breakdown of revenue, but in some cases that might not be so diverse across the customer base. So important business questions come from that. Do we like it? What’s working, what is not working.
Finally another breakdown section here. So this is just a big thing that this potential company is focusing marketing spend on. So for the selected month, what does that look like? We've got some marketing spend metrics and then that leads to a revenue per customer and a 12-month average. Again, just giving context.
So quick overview, for the layout tips; start with your KPIs and make them big and very hard to miss. They should be the things that your eyes immediately gravitate to. Next, give those big KPIs some context by trending them over time. Then break them down into a couple views that are going to support whatever the business goal of the dashboard is.
Lastly, comparing and contrasting against something like Excel. So it's similar in some ways when you create calculations on the back end. It is actually fairly similar to Excel. It can handle a lot more data than Excel though. It's much easier to automate data into Power BI than Excel although you can still automate data into Excel. One common thing that I find with a lot of clients is they want to treat it like Excel, which is totally natural, totally normal. They want to say ”what's my net profit margin?”. They want to say you know 50,000 divided by 176,000, what is that percent? Well we can't do that within the dashboard or any sort of business intelligence software. You can't just go into one visual and have it interact directly with another visual. That all happens on the back end. That's where we'd create a column or a calculation that says you know "equals sum of net profit divided by sum of revenue" or however the data is structured. Second, Excel is very very customizable which is great. You can do absolutely anything that you want. This is a little less customizable but looks a lot sleeker, so that's kind of the trade-off there. So they're somewhat similar. Power BI is a lot more powerful. Excel is much better for things like manual entries or projections or things that you're going to be changing a lot. Power BI is better for big data sets, automation, and the things that you may not be adjusting on a daily, weekly, monthly basis and you just need the visual of it. Power BI excels in the visualization piece, whereas with Excel, you can do some but Power BI is a little bit better.
So I hope this is helpful. A lot of people need financial dashboards. They are very important. If you're going to dashboard anything in your business, financials are likely towards the top of the list. So keep Power BI in mind, excuse me, keep your financials top of mind. Make them easy to view, easy to analyze, with something like a dashboard. We are always happy to help and always happy to make your business more data-driven. Feel free to reach out with any questions at all. Again, I've been Jack Tompkins with Pineapple Consulting Firm. Looking forward to talking soon everybody, thanks for watching!
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