Despite spending significant time and effort in planning and forecasting, most companies fail to produce a reliable forecast. Part of the reason is because Excel is still a primary tool for these processes. The author believes that to improve planning and forecasting, companies should start using Power BI.
Excel is a great tool when one or two people are planning a model for a small company. However, as soon as data becomes complex or multiple analysts are working on it, things can quickly go haywire. When working with multiple dimensions and a few fact tables, Excel’s capacity becomes an issue.
As a result, the planning cycle takes weeks to complete. By the time the information becomes available, it is already out of date.
Why Power BI is a better solution
Power BI is a business analytics tool that provides extensive data modeling, integration, analytics, and reporting services.
Power BI can draw and combine data from various sources. In the case of planning and forecasting, the data often resides in ERP systems or in multiple Excel files. Upon combining data, Power BI can aggregate separate planning datasets with actuals. Then analytics can create a consolidated planning report.
Besides data integration and modeling features, Power BI can work with large datasets. Meanwhile, in Excel you’ll start having troubles when files are larger than 500 MB and/or have over 1,000,000 rows. Power BI’s compression features can import and work with this data no problem.
Another key advantage of Power BI is collaboration. You no longer need to send email attachments back and forth, confusing everyone which version is which. Once a report is done, you publish it on the Power BI Service, and everyone can work with data. Furthermore, you can set up regular updates and alerts that will tell when numbers would change.
Lastly, Power BI is so effective in part because it belongs to the large Microsoft ecosystem. This gives Power BI a solid advantage over other business intelligence software. For example, when a company has the SQL Server and Analysis Services, getting Power BI on top these tools comes naturally.
Write-back in Power BI
However, the real magic in planning and forecasting in Power BI comes with the write-back.
The write-back capabilities allow end users to enter, edit, or update values within Power BI. The users can see the impact of write-back immediately. Essentially, the write-back provides users with same capabilities of Excel in the Power BI environment.
A good example is when analyzing a P&L report, users make quick scenario-based changes by typing new values right into a visual. The visual will then write it back to the model and reflect the changes right away. Most importantly, all of this happens while keeping a single source of truth.
Power ON is one of the few companies that provide write-back in Power BI. Power ON’s Visual Planner takes existing Power BI to the next level. Using Power ON on top of Power BI, companies can build new effective and unrivaled planning and forecasting solutions.
If you’re interested in the write-back in Power BI, feel free to reach out to us. Centida is an official partner of Power ON. We can help you to install the write-back to your existing Power BI environment and provide hands-on training.