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Building Financial Reports in Power BI – Not a Problem Anymore

by | Nov 11, 2019 | Articles

When preparing a financial statement, which is a trivial Excel task, in a BI environment, things can get complicated pretty quickly. Anyone who worked on creating a simple income statement or balance sheet in Power BI surely knows about this inconvenience.

Searching for an answer you end up scrolling through numerous blogs and forums only to realize that all the proposed solutions are technically challenging, especially for a finance person who is not skilled at BI. Eventually, people end up either giving up or turning to the least bad option, such as formatting out-of-the-box Power BI table or matrix visuals.

Many times we had been asking that same question to ourselves – Why is there no user-friendly “out-of-the-box” solution to one of the most frequently used tasks in management reporting, such as a financial statements builder?

Finally, our prayers have been answered. Recently, Power ON BI, a renowned company in CPM/BI landscapes for a state of art write-back features in Power BI, rolled out Report Writer, a new solution for building table reports directly within a Power BI environment.

The Report Writer works in the following way. After you define the set of rows and columns, assign standard or user-defined styles directly to each row and column, and you’ll get a pixel-crisp table report with exactly the line items, columns and styling you want.

Rows and columns can be custom defined.

You can easily combine values of different data types in the same visual, such as $ values, percent and non-financial measures. That way you can make one line in bold, another in italic and the percent format with an underline.

Moreover, the user-defined sets and features, such as row and column definitions, can be reusable. If you defined a standard layout for an income statement for a year-over-year (Y-o-Y) comparison and budget vs actuals analysis, you can use the same row layout for a monthly income statement as well. In this case, you only need to define a new table with the same row layout and a monthly column layout.

The Report Writer visual also allows creating custom calculated columns and rows. For example, if there is a need to add “% EBITDA” line, it can be defined through a formula, EBITDA / Revenue, directly in the visual. In a Y-o-Y comparison column – instead of setting DAX measures with time data, you can make a calculated column directly in the visual the same way you would do it in Excel.


Example of monthly report.

Another useful feature of the product is a dynamic column naming. Imagine this: would you like to have columns that change their headings depending on a slicer selection in a report? The Report Writer makes it possible with the dynamic column naming function, which allows you to define a column name in a manner “Y-o-Y [Year-1]-[Year]” to show “Y-o-Y 16-17”, or “Actuals 2018”, or “Variance to Budget 17-18”.

At the moment, Report Writer is only distributed as a part of Power ON Visual Planning solution, since by design, it relies on write-back features and stores all the formatting metadata in a database. If you’re a lucky owner of Power ON Visual Planning license, you’re invited to try Report Writer out and start using that miraculous visual.

Example of a forecast report.

As a Power ON BI partner, Centida would gladly support you on a journey to Power BI write-back and unprecedented reporting experience with Report Writer.

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