Power BI Goals: Everything you need to know [Video]

A few weeks ago, I attended the Microsoft Business Applications Summit (MBAS) during which I heard about the launch of something that I personally find extremely exciting – Power BI Goals. I think you too might just find Power BI Goals exciting, and in this blog, I would like to take you on a deep dive into everything you might want to know about this new functionality! Whether you’re already familiar with Power BI or are completely new to it, allow me to explain why Goals is a game-changer by way of a short narrative:

Every organisation requires the ability to achieve specific objectives and measure progress towards the achievement of these objectives through data. This often presents a great challenge for many, because automations are sometimes non-existent meaning that data must be manually compiled, arranged or sorted, or often it is the case that even with the data fully prepared and accessible there is limited connectivity between it that allow for recognising and harnessing the relationships between datasets. This is where Goals steps in.

What is Power BI Goals?

Microsoft’s official introduction to Power BI Goals is as follows:
“Power BI Goals is a data-driven, collaborative, and adaptable way to measure key business metrics and goals built directly on top of Power BI. Goals enables teams to easily curate business metrics that matter most and aggregate them in a unified view. From there, teams can measure progress against their goals, proactively share updates with their teammates, and dive deeper into their data when something needs further analysis. Users can easily monitor the health of their business, bringing in data across multiple Power BI workspaces and create scorecards to drive impact.”

To extend upon Microsoft’s description, and provide specific context examples, Power BI Goals allows you to create goals and sub-goals that you want to track for your organisation, usually key operational metrics such as revenue, usage, or customer satisfaction. You can enter your data, and target value manually or pull it from your existing Power BI reports. This tool is available in Microsoft Teams if you are a Power BI Premium licence holder and has been in public preview as of May 4, 2021. If you or your organisation do not currently possess Power BI Premium licensing, but are interested in seeing what it offers, you can sign up to a completely free premium-per-user trial directly from the service.

Capabilities of Power BI Goals

Power BI Goals can help drive accountability through goal ownership and transform the mindset of users towards data as they shift from passively consuming reports, to truly carrying about a metric they are responsible for. Scorecards allow you to see how a goal has been progressing, the status of a goal, as well as the latest progress and changes that may have occurred. As trends sometimes are unable to account for external factors or other considerations which may have an impact on a given goal, users are also able to add notes and comments to provide more insight into why a scorecard is following a certain trend, providing a richer and more detailed narrative of the over-time performance of a given metric.

How to create/set up a Power BI Goals Scorecard?

Creating a Power BI Goals Scorecard is very straightforward and has been designed to be as accessible as possible to users. I have outlined a series of steps below in order to create a manual scorecard or, alternately, please feel free to jump straight into the video demonstration I’ve provided below where I walk you through every step of the process.

1. Manual Scorecard

Manual scorecards can be created for things like targets or goals that do not necessarily have quantitative values e.g., things that are not directly backed by any data source, such as launching a new employee initiative.
We are starting off in Microsoft Teams, where you need to add Power BI into your Teams workspace through the Finder app on the left. You can now open Power BI with the toolbar. Once you find yourself in Power BI, search for a 🏆 icon. This is Power BI Goals. If we want to start with a brand-new scorecard, that does not yet have any goals, click on “New scorecard”. Now simply provide a title for your goal, select an owner, define the current value of the metric you wish to track and, of course, the target value you want your metric to reach. Finally, you can set the status of your goal and confirm the due date. Just like that, in a couple of clicks, you have created your first goal.

1. Open Microsoft Teams
2. Download Power BI into your Microsoft Teams Workspace through the App Finder
3. Click on “New goals”
4. Give your goal a name/title
5. Allocate an owner
6. Set the current status
7. Set your target for the goal
8. Set the status of the goal
9. Decide on a start and due date
10. Set sub-goals following the same steps

2. Automated/Connected Scorecard

We just walked through the process of creating a manual scorecard, however, the real value of Power BI Goals comes from data-driven goals. The process here is very similar to a manual scorecard, but instead of setting the current value of your metric manually, you will click on “Connect to data”. This will take you to all the Power BI reports you have access to. You can now select the report you wish to use to track your goal. You can even benefit from Power BI’s interactivity and only select a slice of a donut chart for example. Once you are happy with your selection hit “connect”. Another feature that’s important to highlight is the possibility to bring in all historical data as well (e.g., by selecting a time series chart). In this case, you will immediately track the evolution of your goal and see how your data has changed over time. When a user connects data from a Power BI report, Power BI Goals will automatically take care of the refreshes and updates too. If the Power BI report you selected is highly confidential, the scorecard will automatically change its label to highly confidential to reflect the sensitivity of the underlying dataset. If there are multiple datasets with multiple levels of sensitivity, Power BI Goals will always go with the strictest sensitivity label.

1. Open Microsoft Teams
2. Download Power BI into your Microsoft Teams Workspace through the App Finder
3. Click on “New goals”
4. Give your goal a name/title
5. Allocate an owner
6. Click “Connect to data”
7. Choose the appropriate Power BI Report, or part of the report
7. Set your target for the goal
8. Set the status of the goal
9. Decide on a start and due date
10. Set sub-goals following the same steps

Power BI Goals Demo – How to set up manual and connected goals in a Power BI Goals scorecard

Goal settings

Jumping into the goal settings enables you to change the tracking cycle of the goal. This allows users to configure whether they want to see progress day by day, week by week or month by month in the scorecard. Coming soon, users will also be able to define custom status rules to automate status changes for goals. For example, you can create a rule that will automatically change the status of your goal to “At risk” if you haven’t reached your goal a week before the due date.

The inner working of Power BI Goals

I wanted to take you on a tour inside of Power BI to take a closer look at the inner workings of Goals and how you can start extending and operationalising the solutions that you’re building. So, what happens behind the scenes as users start to define their goals?

If we jump into our workspace within Power BI, we can find all our previously created scorecards. Because scorecards are built on top of Power BI reports, a lot of the settings available for reports such as endorsements and sensitivity labels are also available for your scorecards. It’s also worth mentioning that Power BI automatically takes snapshots of the data on behalf of the user. Every day the newest values are stored into datasets with their associated timestamps. Over time, users can build up a history of their goal’s data and even leverage the scorecard dataset to build new Power BI reports.

Automation of Power BI Goals scorecards

I already described above how you can automate the status of your goals through data-driven rules. Additionally, scorecards come with full API support for creating, updating, and deleting scorecard goals, values as well as notes. The Goals API will provide a lot of flexibility and opportunities for building out exciting solutions and automation is not only limited to pro-developers. Currently, Microsoft is investigating an integration between Power Automate and Power BI Goals to truly enable all users to operationalise their goals workflows. This integration is coming later this year.

The consumption experience of Goals

After a user has built, extended, and automated their solution we come to the most important part in the journey, the consumption experience, which kicks-off in Microsoft Teams. The integration of Power BI Goals in Microsoft Teams enables everyone to seamlessly drive alignment across goals, define them together and drive them to success as a team. Users are able to assess the health of the organisation at a glance, proactively keep others up to date, and be able to easily interact with goals. In the video below we explore the consumption experience by jumping into our Goals hub.

Power BI Goals Demo – How to set up and use Power BI Goals in Microsoft Teams

Coming soon – Power BI Goals on Mobile

It’s important for users to stay up to date and on track with the goals they have set. It’s the first thing they might want to check in the morning to understand where they need to focus on. Microsoft is working on a Power BI Goals mobile experience that will be available soon. Opening Goals on your phone will take you straight to the Goals hub, where you will be able to easily scan through all the different goals that are most relevant to you. You will be able to make quick updates and add notes. You can also see specific detailed information about your goal because of the tiled scorecard layout, optimised for mobile or tablet.

Final thoughts

Power BI Goals is such a simple feature that it can be used by any user, even those without much previous Power BI experience, and it’s something that I can foresee being widely accessible to all users and, as such, help drive adoption of Power BI more generally. I love to see that Power BI, which has always been chiefly recognised as a reporting tool, is expanding in such a way that it can empower employees to have real insights and have influence on their organisation’s performance and efficiency, as well as the metrics used to determine both of these things. The visibility of organisational goals and transparency is something I have always greatly appreciated, as I feel it emphasises the importance of organisational collaboration and community.

One drawback I can see that may somewhat hinder adoption, however, is the cost associated with Power BI Premium licensing, which is required in order to make use of this new functionality. In organisations with existing Power BI licensing I feel that adopting this functionality is a no-brainer, but for those organisations that do not regularly need to work directly with data and therefore may have either no presence or a very limited presence within Power BI this may not itself offer enough value to justify premium licensing.

The good news, however, is that you can start a free trial with Power BI premium in order to test this functionality, which will allow you to make a more informed decision about onboarding Power BI and Power BI goals into your organisation! If you need any advice on how your business can benefit from leveraging this business intelligence tool, or indeed for help with building reports, dashboards, and scorecards based on ideas you already have and beginning to draw actionable insights from data you likely already have available, get in touch! We are a lovely bunch and will be more than happy to support you.