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Overlays for True Self Serve Reporting

No Training Required

Around 18 months ago I was working on a Power BI Report build that was going to have a few hundred monthly users, many of them accessing the report daily. We had just formed a new team doing BI for Finance and one of the mantras for the team was “No Training Required”.

Having been knee deep in Power BI for a couple years at this point, I knew it would be a challenge to build feature rich report that meets the needs of multiple levels of user and make it intuitive enough to avoid having to train end users. Many of the powerful features of Power BI are not very discoverable for end users natively, and since each report has a different set of features, past experience as an end user may not be valid.

Fortunately, Buttons has just come out and I had been playing with bookmarks to see what i could do with them. Combining the concept of No Training Required with Buttons/Bookmarks led to the idea of building a guided user experience native to Power BI.

In this post, I will show how to build a guide overlay for true self service reporting and how to implement it into Power BI using Buttons and Bookmarks.

Land Your Views

It is important that your views and features are finalized before taking these steps to avoid re-work. I always finish everything I can in a report before I get to the stage of overlaying.

Getting Started

If you read my post on Backgrounds in Power BI, some of this will look familiar. Like I mentioned in that post, I like to work on these kinds of things in PowerPoint, but many pro tools for design will work as well or better

First, I take a screenshot my finalized Report page and paste it into PowerPoint.

Now I will build shapes on top of my report view that will help guide my end users to features. I will often start by overlaying a rectangle that has a fill with 70-80% transparency, then bring in solid shapes with text.

I will now remove the Report Page screenshot to be left with my overlay and save it as a picture.

In Power BI, I will create a “?” Button and insert my Image.

Ensuring that my image is on the top of my selection pane and selected, I will create a Selected Visual Bookmark. I usually turn off data as a habit for overlays, although it will not affect anything here. (blog post on this coming soon)

I will then hide the image, and create a second selected visual bookmark

Now I will assign the Bookmark Action to my “?” Button and give it a good Tooltip

I will then activate my button to show the guide, and then assign our second bookmark to the guide image. This will allow the user to click anywhere after opening the guide to close it and get back to working with the report itself.

Overlays Beyond Guides

Using the concept of overlaying information and utilizing bookmarks lets us tap into a new dimension in Power BI. There are many uses for this beyond simple guides. Not only can we bring in static images with this approach, but also dynamic fields from our dataset. Here are some of the ways I have utilized this concept:

  • Definitions
  • Deeper Context
  • Process Documentation
  • Refresh Timing/Schedule

Lastly, Enjoy the free time you have created by giving users a guided experience that needs no training!

Download the PBIX for this example here