What Power BI Can Do for Financial Reporting and Analysis
Most Financial reporting and analysis are performed through Excel, some of the drawbacks when using Excel include:
· The file size can get cumbersome
· It often requires manual manipulation of data which can be time consuming
· It can be prone to errors in the formulas
· Excel produces static reports
· There is no auto-refresh of financial data
· Reports need to be manually emailed
An alternative option to Excel, would be to move your Financial reporting to Power BI.
Below we have listed some of the benefits when using Power BI for Financial reporting and analysis.
With Power BI you can incorporate data from different sources all into one workspace. Using SharePoint the Financial Analyst can save files into a shared folder that uploads to Power BI.
Handling larger datasets
Excel can handle only 1,048,576 rows of data, but Power BI can handle larger amounts of data seamlessly.
Automate data manipulation
Often different data sources in Excel spreadsheets require manual manipulation would take time and may lead to human errors. The Financial Analyst will no longer be required to manually perform Excel formulas and lookups to get the data ready for reporting. This process of cleaning and shaping the raw financial data will be performed automatically by Power Query in the back end after each data refresh.
Reduce reporting template size
Instead of having to maintain a large Excel data source file, Power BI uses powerful compression engines to reduce the reporting template to a manageable file size.
Implement row-level security
One of the great features of Power BI is the ability to set up restrictions as to who can see what financial data. The Financial Analyst can limit sending Financial reports to the appropriate people in the organisation based on the users’ access rights.
Time intelligence reporting
With Power BI’s time intelligence capabilities it’s easier to spot trends and unusual fluctuations when comparing data across multiple periods such as last month, last quarter and last year as well as month to date, quarter to date and year to date.
Perform predictive forecasting
Using the line chart visualisation in Power BI one can perform forecasting using Power BI built-in smooth forecasting AI model.
Performing Q & A on data
Sometimes it is hard to find what you are looking for in Excel. With Power BI’s Q & A feature, the users of Financial reports can find the data they are looking for by typing questions into a Natural language capability tool using AI.
Power BI is available on all devices including mobile. A Financial Analyst can create custom mobile views of their reports for mobile devices.
Create data alerts
The Financial Analyst can create alerts to receive email notifications when measures reach a certain limit. This is useful when comparing actuals to budget for certain income and expense line items and so on.
Online sharing of reports
Once Financial reports have been refreshed, they are shared with stakeholders as a dedicated Power BI application using Power BI services. Financial reports no longer need to be emailed as an attachment.
Schedule auto data refresh
By setting up a gateway, Power BI Financial reports can be refreshed up to 8 times per day at different intervals. Financial analysts can be assured that their latest reports are visible to end users by doing this.
Automate financial commentary
Using Power BI’s natural language can automate commentary in the Financial reports. The smart narrative feature can also be customised by the Financial Analyst thereby allowing the person to modify the wording and search for different values to include in their commentary.
Analyse Power BI in Excel
Once Financial reports are published to the cloud they can be downloaded for further analysis in Excel. When the data is downloaded, Excel will open the file as a Pivot table. The Financial Analyst can then recreate their Financial reports using the measures from the data model. The Excel file will be a live link to the dataset and get updated when refreshed.
Custom Financial reporting templates
By default Power BI is not designed for Financial reporting and does not come with standard Financial reporting templates. With the help of DAX, a Financial Analyst can create and import their own Financial reporting templates by using Excel as the base on their reporting framework. If there are any changes to the structure of their report layout it can simply be updated using the Excel reporting template.
Custom Colour Themes
By using external tools the Financial Analyst can create a unique colour scheme for their reporting. Once the JSON file has been created it’s simply a matter of importing the file into Power BI as a new theme and then having the option of assigning colours to visuals of their choice.
Drill through into transaction details
Power BI enables the Financial Analyst to create drill through report pages. As an example, if the end user wanted to check the transactional details of the sales ledger they would be able to. This way the user can interrogate the details supporting the numbers if they choose to do so.
Dynamic Reporting Titles
The Financial Analyst can use DAX to create custom report tiles based on the report filters selected by users. This means the user will know exactly which visual they are looking at and avoid any misinterpretation.
Reduce the number of reporting pages
By using features like bookmarks and report filters the Financial Analyst can reduce the number of individual reporting pages that requires development. This allows the end user to navigate between different report pages within the same report page.
Access to more advanced visualisations
Power BI currently provides 35 visualisations for the Financial Analyst to consider using in their Financial reports. In addition, the person can browse Microsoft’s wide variety of AppSource visuals to add more custom visuals.
We hope this gives the Finance community some perspective of the reasons why its favourable to move from Excel to Power BI.