By Subbarao Mupparaju, Deputy Director of Information Technology Division

Users have been telling us they want the ability to do more with their data and enhance their reporting capabilities, and we are starting to provide departments with a powerful new tool called Power BI to do exactly that.

We know that the use of data-backed visualization is a key way that departments can explore, analyze and report their own insights and trends from data. The Power BI tool can connect users to a wide range of data sources and allow them to create reports faster and with greater clarity and creativity. Reports that used to go quickly can take many hours because of the amount of data and the number of users. The system simply is trying to process too much data.

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We are building reports in Power BI, replacing and improving on existing reports and queries. All users will get access to pre-made dashboards and reports, such as budget to actuals and expense analytics applications. But some users at each department will gain a much greater ability to create their own reports.

Power BI has all the same capabilities as previous reports we built in OBIEE (Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition), and ease of use is better in the new Power BI. Speed will be an added benefit. Reports and queries that run in PeopleSoft can severely hinder the system.

In addition to reports and queries, some larger departments get data extracts from FI$Cal. They take our information, such as labor distribution and commitment control data, and put it into another system where they can then combine it with their own data, such as payroll or client information, to perform other tasks. The next phase of our transition will be to upgrade our data-extract process by moving it to the Azure Data Warehouse. Departments will be given access so they can build Power BI reports on data directly from the warehouse.

We started the transition to Power BI in October, rolling it out internally and to our partners first. Right now, it’s being used just for transparency data and DGS reports, and that is giving us a chance to stabilize the architecture with a limited number of users.

We took an interim step recently with the release of the new KK Activity Detail History Report. The next step will be to move KK Activity Log information into Power BI, which should further improve performance and allow departments to modify the report. The Power BI version of the report should be available this quarter, with more reports and queries moving to Power BI over the course of 2020.

As we continue our transition, we are confident that you will experience a big improvement in the speed and versatility of your reports and queries.