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Power BI and Microsoft Teams: A New Way to Share and Collaborate

If the past year or so has taught us anything, it’s that the tools for collaborating with colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders have been severely underserved across the board. What was typically accomplished just by walking over to colleagues and having ad-hoc discussions is increasingly difficult in the remote workspace. The products out there usually excel at solving one problem, be it communication, remote assistance, file sharing, organization, scheduling, or other piecemeal components of what makes ‘working together’ a thing.

A Powerful Platform to Share and Collaborate

The major players in this space – Slack, Google, Asana, Trello, and a few others – have very focused approaches to meeting this challenge, working with specific work types, typically revolving around task-based work. But the average workplace has evolving needs that don’t always fit into the paradigm of ‘projects’. How this story typically ends is with clients having to either refactor their own needs to fit into one tool or to go to market to find a complimentary platform that can either be integrated or used alongside the other.

Microsoft’s approach to this problem is different, though. They have Microsoft Teams. Even as I write this, it’s hard to tack down Teams to a single description – it is equal parts of what used to be Skype for Business and SharePoint, all reskinned into a ‘workspace’ and ‘channel’ based interface.

Each Team can have various channels, each with different pinned apps. For example, you can have a Finance Team with a “General” channel where members can share memes or chat about anything, check out a Wiki on internal ‘how-to’ process articles, manage a Lists page where you’re tracking various requests for the Finance team, or just have a Microsoft Forms poll for picking the next virtual game night:

But in this article, specifically, I want to highlight one app that shows up when you click the little + icon in a channel, namely, the Power BI icon:

Endless Possibilities

Adding the Power BI app as a tab to a channel allows you then to pick from your published Power BI reports on, grouped into “Workspaces”:

At this point, the Power BI report is embedded into that tab and users will see the report on that tab, refreshed on whatever schedule you had it set to refresh on

We use this feature to surface the Resource Plan for your staff for the week, so everyone knows what they’re working on, as shown in the mock-up above.

Or some general forecasting tools to gauge client onboarding and future project timelines using specific resources:

Or vacation requests and absence planning:

Users can even comment on the report using the tab conversation feature:

So there’s a lot of room to utilize this for whatever internal (or external) collaboration use-cases you might have.

One thing to note is that viewers will need permission to the report and to be licensed appropriately for access. There are some ways to work around those limitations and restrictions, such as when sharing with guests or external users in Teams – just check in with your Microsoft partner and they’ll be able to help with that.

A Power-ful Combination

It’s becoming abundantly clear that remote work and the virtual office are here to stay in one way, shape, or form and as a result, organizations everywhere need to figure out a strong collaboration strategy that aligns with their business needs and objectives. To this end, leveraging impactful visualization of data to manage work flows, communicate results, or assist with decision-making can be a heavy hitter in management’s arsenal. We’re strong proponents of Microsoft Teams and major evangelists for Power BI and when those two platforms come together in a seamless and profound way, it’s something that really gets us excited here at Catapult!

So what are you waiting for? Start reaping the collaborative benefits of using Teams and Power BI together today! And for more inspiration on different ways to report on data in Power BI, check out our blog post on that here.

Got questions about Microsoft Teams or Power BI? Contact us and one of our Dynamics 365 experts will get back to you.

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Catapult Team

Talk to as many internal stakeholders as you possibly can, because the more input you have about what you really need, the better chance you have of a successful implementation.

Blair Hurlbut, VP - ERP Solutions