What is Power BI: Why Manufacturers need to Ditch the Uber Spreadsheet

Almost every company has had one at some point —  the “uber” spreadsheet. 

You know the one I mean; the one spreadsheet that rules them all. The spreadsheet the whole company relies on. 

Someone in finance pulls it together each week and honestly no one knows how to do it but them. They import all the data from every source into a single master spreadsheet that is then presented to the executive team.  It can take them a whole day to build the tables. Which makes you worried that if that person ever left, production in the company will come to a screeching halt. 

Sound familiar?  

Does your company rely on a giant spreadsheet, or a suite of spreadsheets, that management uses to make decisions? If so, you know the difficulty in maintaining and improving those spreadsheets. Over time, they become unwieldy to work on and update. 

You can only push Excel so far. It wasn’t meant to be a full-blown business intelligence tool. 

Well, the good news is that Microsoft has a different tool to replace those giant spreadsheets and make the entire process effortless. 

Better yet, this tool makes it easy to visualize the data in multiple ways, so individual stakeholders in the organization see the data that is most relevant to them. That tool is Power BI.

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a suite of Microsoft apps and services that organizes, manages, analyzes, and visualizes data from a variety of sources, through a user-friendly interface.

Primarily, Power BI transforms your data into compelling and easy-to-process charts, graphs, and reports. 

Instead of scanning through an entire spreadsheet to find the information you want, Power BI lets you generate and share useful snapshots of what’s happening in the business. It’s like a supercharged version of Excel. 

With Power BI, data sources can be linked and synced automatically so that data visualizations are updated on a recurring basis. Additionally, Power BI makes it easy to visualize the data multiple ways giving each audience in the organization a view of the data that is most relevant and useful to them. 

It Can Seem Like Magic

Power BI can do some amazing things because it has the ability to connect to any data source, process and/or translate that data, then finally present the results in a way that is easy to understand and consume. 

For example, when one of our customers purchased a new ERP system recently, they realized they still need a more sophisticated reporting feature to support their operations.  

So we connected their ERP to Power BI, which let them visualize their production from end-to-end and increase visibility across the entire organization.  No changes were needed to the ERP. The client was thrilled to see their ERP data presented in multiple ways exactly as they needed it. 

Dashboards for Everyone

Power BI lets you create useful dashboards for the diverse set of stakeholders in your business. While all the data is imported or synced into Power BI, the processed data can be reported so each department only sees what is immediately relevant to them. 

Power BI also enables you to interact with the data in an intuitive manner. By clicking on various elements you can drill down into the data or view the data from a different perspective. And if need be, data can be exported out of Power BI into Excel spreadsheets.

Use Power BI to Scale Your Manufacturing Business

If you use spreadsheets to run your business, you’ll eventually hit a wall because Excel doesn’t scale. 

As your business grows, Excel will not have the horsepower to keep up and it will start draining precious resource hours. Additionally, the potential for problems and errors goes up as the spreadsheets get more and more complicated. 

Power BI is built to scale as your business scales. As more data sources become relevant to your business, the new data is integrated with the existing data to provide the business intelligence needed throughout your organization. 

3 Reasons Why You Need to Ditch the Uber Spreadsheet

  1. Power BI scales as your business grows to include additional data sources unlike Excel which becomes difficult to use when too much data is being processed. 
  2. Power BI provides a simple user interface for visualizing the data in interactive charts, graphs, and reports. Unlike Excel, which doesn’t provide an interactive user interface.
  3. Power BI data can be customized to publish the data to meet the needs of various stakeholders giving each a customized view of the data in a way that is relevant to their goals and KPIs. This is much harder to do in Excel and usually requires multiple spreadsheets. 

If you still use the “uber spreadsheet method” to run your business, it’s time to make the switch to Power BI today. 


InsITe helps businesses and manufacturing companies get the most out of current and emerging technologies with a customized IT approach to maximize growth, efficiency, insights, and productivity. InsITe is not a typical IT company selling products for short-term, short-sighted fixes. We invest in long-term solutions for a company’s growth by taking the time to learn its products, process, and business goals before bringing tech into the conversation. In this way, we become much like our Clients’ very own internal IT department with familiar faces who understand the business. 

If you have any questions about this post please leave a comment. We read and respond to all comments. Or better yet, give us a call and ask to talk directly to our Founder and CEO Mike Schipper 616-383-9000. 

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