Power BI Goals – How to Implement Series

by Treb Gatte

Great photo of business lady presenting to team

This is the beginning of a series where we’ll take you through our process for implementing Power BI Goals. We’ll cover much of the new functionality announced at Ignite, like permissions, Goals custom visual, and more.

In this post, we’ll describe why Power BI Goals are a great starting point for those organizations new to Power BI. Also, we’ll highlight three key decisions to start well.

Why Power BI Goals?

At its core, Power BI Goals are about providing answers, not more reports. Power BI has made it so easy to create reports, we are now drowning in them.

I watched a Director at a tech company search for a specific metric in a meeting. She knew she had it, but she also had 50+ reports to search. After an hour looking, she was very frustrated that she couldn’t find the numbers she needed.

Power BI Goals force you to get to the point and show the metrics that matter so that decisions can be made quickly. It also enables you to present those metrics with context. The attached check-ins provide the needed commentary that give context to the results. It’s a powerful combination. We are seeing a lot of interest in the C Suite as a result.

If you are not familiar with Power BI Goals, see our introduction series here. If you are interested in conducting a Power BI Goals workshop, please contact us here.

Start with Goals if you are starting with Power BI

If you are starting with Power BI, Goals is the easiest path forward to getting results instead of building out report models and content first. Most Power BI projects start with converting operational reporting to Power BI. While this is certainly a good thing, you are starting your data journey in the middle of the decision pyramid.

Goals instead start at the top of the decision pyramid. It enables you to focus on the questions that your executives need answered without having to worry yet about reports and data models. It does force your executives to collaborate and agree upon the key questions needed to steer the business. We’ve had several decision framework workshops with Executive teams to determine what their key questions are. This exercise enables alignment in decision making across management layers.

Agree on how to use Goals

One of the important first steps is to decide how you wish to use Goals. First, what do your Goals represent? Are they desired business outcomes, like 2021 Maintain 20% Profit Margin? Are they other measurements? Some general agreement on what Goals represent to the organization is a good place to start.

Once settled, we advise our clients to use Goals to signal how executives should engage with the represented entity. One of the common laments we here from executives is that they are tired of sitting through long meetings and being “PowerPointed” to death, only to leave with no clear call to action.

It is helpful to define desired outcomes based on Goal status. We’ve had great success using three Goal status classifications, Engage, Enable, and Inform, to drive Executive action. These align with the status colors of red, yellow, and green respectively. When an Executive scans their scorecard, they should clearly understand how and where to engage, enable, and inform.

  • Engage indicates that there’s a serious issue and that Executive engagement is needed to address the issue. An example of this type of issue would be there’s a contract dispute creating a supply chain issue. Executive involvement with sufficient authority is needed to clear this issue.
  • Enable communicates that the team can address the blocker if they receive necessary Executive support to enable their progress. Approving an expenditure so that the team can purchase a new testing tool is a good example of this engagement type.
  • Inform conveys the latest status and commentary. No action is required of the Executive, rather they are kept up to date on the latest developments.

Decide organizing principle for Scorecards

Most scorecards will not be evergreen. Scorecards should be developed using some organizing principle so that the contents stay relevant to the company’s needs. For example, many new to Goals will create a scorecard for a team to manage their Goals. However, Team may not be sufficient as an organizing principle as the scorecard will eventually be littered with completed Goals.

Another aspect to consider in organizing principles is the use of the hierarchy. It may be helpful to have some guidelines as to what is useful at a certain level of the hierarchy.

For example, many teams have fiscal year Goals. Therefore, it may be better to use Team and Fiscal Year as your organizing principle. This way, when the next fiscal year is near, you can set up your new scorecard while preserving the current version. Within the hierarchy, many organizations have quarterly or monthly goals. This helps ensure progress is on track.

Example Power BI Goals fiscal year scorecard
Simple example of a Fiscal Year scorecard with Quarterly Goals

Next Article

In the next article, we’ll discuss check-ins, check-in notes, and how this can be implemented in a scalable fashion.

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