PowerBI Governance – it grows like Mushrooms!

By August 23, 2021Uncategorised

PowerBI Governance strangely coincides with one of my other hobbies. I have had a lifelong interest in hunting mushrooms, and was recently gifted a copy of an Australian Field Guide, which helps a lot as my existing knowledge is UK based and not just irrelevant but potentially deadly.

Now, first the science bit: Mushrooms themselves are actually just the most visible part of the whole fungi, which is actually a huge network of mycelium growing in the ground, or in an old tree trunk or whatever its preferred food is. A mushroom is the just the fruiting body of the fungus itself. By the time you see a mushroom, the fungus itself is well established and growing healthily.

PowerBI Governance Mushrooms

PowerBI Governance Mushrooms in the wild!

PowerBI – by the time you see it, it’s already established

From an organisational perspective, PowerBI Governance and mushrooms have a lot in common. By the time a leader becomes aware PowerBI is in the organisation by having spotted a wild dashboard – it usually means it’s got into many parts of the organisation in a wild and unmanaged state.

This isn’t a problem in itself; a few wild gems here and there are good thing to find and can add value to the business. However as with wild mushrooms, telling the good from the bad is not a simple task. Superficially one report can look very much like another – but one can contain the poison of bad data or incorrectly applied business rules – and there’s no way to tell from just looking at it.

This why we farm our mushrooms

To ensure our mushrooms on toast doesn’t end up killing us, we farm mushrooms to make sure we get a safe, edible species to eat. Similarly for PowerBI, once we start consuming it we want to be able to confident of its provenance. This means that you need to move from a business led anarchic state to something more managed.

There’s a lot of models for delivering an Enterprise PowerBI platform but they boil down to 3 approaches:

  • Business Led, bottom up
  • IT Led, top down
  • Hybrid – IT Managed, Business Developed

Which one is right for your organisation will depend on your particular structure and culture. Typically the Hybrid model delivers best results though, as IT manages the technical components – building data sources and so forth – and Business manages the consumables – reports & analysis on that data. Each area plays to its strengths.

Applying governance to your PowerBI deployment

Managing a balance of responsibilities between IT and Business is never easy and so laying some ground rules is essential. Things that need to be considered include:

  • Who is accountable for the validity of the data?
  • How is the service managed from a cost and capacity perspective?
  • What security risks are there and how are they managed?
  • How is adoption and effective usage going to be enabled?

All these things require careful thought and then enforcement through “hard” technical configuration and “soft” policies and guidance. There’s no right answer, and Microsoft’s continual updates mean the answer keeps changing – but my experience with organisations from Local Councils to Global Law Firms to Resource companies has helped me know the right questions.

If you are struggling with an emerging wild mushroom PowerBI deployment, we’d love to hear from you and see what we can do to help bring them under control as part of our Enterprise PowerBI offerings.

And a closing dad joke:

Q: Why does the mushroom always get invited to parties?

A: Because he’s a fun guy!*

James Beresford

James Beresford

James has 20 years experience delivering Data & AI solutions for customers from hands-on technical implementation to strategic planning and design. Helping organisations run smarter and more efficiently is his passion. He has a deep history in the Microsoft Data and AI technology stack, which is one of today's most compelling platforms for Enterprise Data & AI solutions.

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