July 18, 2023

Power BI Governance: What Organisations Need to Know


Soheil Bakhshi, Principal Consultant, Data and Insights


As more organisations adopt Power BI, it becomes essential to ensure appropriate governance processes, policies, and rules are in place. This blog post explains Power BI governance and why business owners need to be conscious of it.

What is governance?

A quick summary - Power BI governance refers to a set of processes, policies, and standards that organisations put in place to manage and control the use of Power BI. It’s critical to ensure that the use of Power BI is aligned with the organisation's objectives and strategy, complies with relevant regulations and standards, and protects sensitive data. Lack of Power BI governance can impact businesses in various negative ways, so it’s important that everyone within the organisation, especially management teams, have a good understanding of its importance.

Business benefits of good governance:

Better decision-making: with Power BI governance in place, you can ensure that the data used in decision-making is accurate, consistent, and trustworthy, helping you make informed decisions based on reliable data insights.

Improved security and compliance: Power BI governance helps to establish security measures to protect sensitive data and ensure compliance with regulations and industry standards, helping to avoid costly data breaches and non-compliance penalties.

Efficient use of resources: by establishing guidelines for roles and responsibilities, data access, sharing, and storage, Power BI governance can help you use resources more efficiently. This efficiency boost will result in cost savings and improved productivity.

Enhanced collaboration: Power BI governance policies help business owners to promote collaboration and communication among team members, resulting in improved teamwork and better outcomes.

Better management and control: Power BI governance helps you manage and control the use of Power BI within your organisation. This control helps ensure that the tool is being used effectively and efficiently and that data is being used in a way that aligns with your business objectives.

Risks of poor governance

Without proper governance in place, this is what you risk:

Data quality issues: if users can access any data source without validation or verification, they may use inaccurate, incomplete, or outdated data for their reports. Incorrect insights, erroneous conclusions, and actions may harm your organisation or its customers.

Data security issues: when users can share data and reports without restrictions or permission controls, they may expose sensitive or confidential information to unauthorised parties. This can result in data breaches, compliance violations, reputational damage, or legal liabilities.

Data sprawl issues: the users who can create and publish reports without standards or guidelines may generate redundant, inconsistent, and slow reports that clutter the Power BI workspace. This can confuse users who need to find relevant information quickly and waste valuable time.

Data governance issues: if users can operate without accountability or oversight from IT or business leaders who own the data assets they use for reporting purposes, they may misuse or abuse the data for their agendas. This can undermine trust among stakeholders who rely on accurate and consistent data for decision-making.

Implementing a governance framework

While the above reasons give you, as a decision-maker, good reason to take Power BI governance seriously, you may wonder where to begin.

A good governance framework that balances user empowerment with organisational control should be the ultimate goal to achieve, and it should include the following:

Security: this is a crucial aspect of Power BI governance. Power BI can contain sensitive data that needs to be protected from unauthorised access, manipulation, or theft. Your business must ensure that the appropriate security measures are in place to secure data in Power BI. This includes setting up access controls, creating data security policies, and implementing encryption.

Data management: another important aspect of Power BI governance. Your business must ensure that the data used in Power BI is accurate, reliable, and up to date. A well-designed fancy dashboard is worth nothing if it does not reflect an accurate business picture. Your business users can quickly lose their trust if they receive incorrect information.

Compliance: You must ensure that Power BI complies with relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards. This includes data privacy regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA, industry standards, and internal policies and procedures.

User management: You must be assured that user access and permissions are correct and managed efficiently to ensure your users can only access the data they need to perform their job.

Usage monitoring: You should monitor the usage of Power BI reports and dashboards to ensure that they are used appropriately and that any issues are quickly identified and addressed. This includes monitoring user activity, data refreshes, and performance metrics.

Training: effective training ensures employees use Power BI effectively and comply with organisational policies. Your organisation should provide guidance on using Power BI and ongoing training to support and ensure employees' knowledge is current on best practices and new features.

Documentation: Helps your organisations manage their Power BI platform is implemented and maintained effectively and complies with their policies and procedures. It also reduces the interpretation of disparate information about Power BI implementation across the business. Documentation includes policies and procedures, data sources, reports, dashboards, and all other artifacts available in Power BI. It also includes users and their permissions.

Organisations need to be conscious of Power BI governance because it can significantly impact their success. Proper governance ensures that Power BI is used effectively and efficiently to achieve business objectives while protecting sensitive data and complying with regulations. Failure to implement proper governance can result in data breaches, regulatory fines, loss of trust, and damage to the organisation's reputation.

In conclusion, Power BI governance is critical to ensuring that Power BI is used effectively, efficiently, and securely. Organisations must value Power BI governance and implement appropriate processes, policies, and standards to manage Power BI. By doing so; they can ensure that Power BI aligns with their organisation's objectives, complies with relevant regulations, and protects sensitive data.


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