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Power BI vs Excel

For those with an Excel background, think of Power BI as Excel on heat. Certainly, in the financial reporting world the number of excel workbooks even on a single topic can just grow and grow as your information requirements change. This means ever more formulae. The calculations just take longer and eventually you break things up into a second workbook and a third and so on.

With a well-structured Power BI model and a few measures (tech speak for calculations), Power BI opens up a wealth of insight into a business, that you may not know is there. And all pretty much by drag and drop.

Reasons to move to Power BI:
• Power BI can handle much more data than Excel.
• Power BI dashboards are much easier to create than Excel charts.
• Power BI runs seamlessly on PC, IOS and Android tablets and mobiles.
• Power BI has a wider level of connectivity sources.
• Power BI can’t be corrupted by an end user. This can happen in Excel with a poorly protected workbook.
• A lot can be achieved with the free licensed version Power BI.
• Data can be automatically updated, giving daily updates of information.

Reasons to stick with Excel:
• Excel is tried and trusted and been with us for years.
• Power Bi can be conceptually difficult at the outset; Most Excel super users are well versed in Excel formulae.
• Good for adhoc analysis
• Excel will accept data input
• Excel manages pdf and hardcopy production better than Power BI. Whilst hard copy is part of Power Bi the licensing cost may make it cost prohibitive. The development of the reports can be tricky for even the seasoned Excel super user.

Both Excel and Power BI have a part to play in the modern workplace. I recommend using Power BI for the core reporting requirements, leaving Excel for any ad hoc analysis. In this time starved world management need access to their information regularly with one version of the truth shared across the organisation. Power BI can achieve this without the need to update a myriad of workbooks to get there. This will then leave the data/report preparation staff (IT or Finance) better placed to answer the questions those reports raise and focus on moving the business on rather than maintaining it.

About the Author


I have spent many years as a Finance Director managing all the things FD's do. Close to my heart is the topic of getting accurate, timely and meaningful information (not data) to the management team and then helping them act on it. Many Power BI Apps seem cluttered with data overload. Just because the App can doesn't mean it should.

I have started BiNaviagation to help businesses get started with Power BI. So if you wish to comment on a similar journey or wish for me to get involved and offer some assistance, then leave a post or contact us.

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