When it comes to business intelligence and data visualisation, Power BI is recognised as a market leader. Let´s talk about 5 Power BI Features to Help You Interrogate your Project Portfolio Data.

Positioned as a leader in the Gartner 2020 ‘Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms for the 13th consecutive year.

What is Power BI?

For those not yet familiar with Power BI, it is described as a business analytics tool. Connecting users to a broad range of data through easy-to-use dashboards, interactive reports, and compelling visualisations that bring data to life.

When tied together with the rich data sources generated through Project Online, Power BI provides valuable, real-time Project & Portfolio Management (PPM) data visualisation, enabling project and programme executives to gain actionable insights for data-driven decision making.

Power BI is also available as a cloud-based service, providing access to PPM information anywhere and anytime. Depending on your job role, you may be someone who designs reports, or you may also be someone who consumes or uses reports.

This article looks at how some of the features available to report consumers can be used to help to interrogate Project Portfolio Data.

Natural Language Q & A

Often described as the ad hoc reporting tool, the Q&A Feature in Power BI lets you use natural language to ask questions and receive data visualisations in response.

You’ll find Q&A on dashboards in the Power BI service…The dashboard will contain tiles pinned from one or more reports, so you can ask questions about any of the data contained in any of the underlying datasets.

When you select the Q&A question box, you will find that a number of questions are listed to get you started, alternatively, you can ask your own.

Screenshot from the Q&A Feature in Microsoft Power BI

Q&A Feature in Microsoft Power BI

You can specify the way the data is presented by asking something like “number of risks by category as a pie chart”, or you can let Power BI pick a layout that suits the data by asking something more general such as, “benefits by Project name”.

As you type, Power BI will also make suggestions to help you shape your question.

If you like the result, depending on your permissions, you can then choose to pin that visualization to a dashboard. Either to an existing dashboard or a new one.

Screenshot of Pin to Dashboard on Power BI

Pin your data visualisations to the dashboard in Microsoft Power BI


Another way to interrogate your data is to run insights on dashboard tiles to generate interesting interactive visuals.

The Quick Insights feature allows users to create subsets of data and automatically apply analytics to that information.

Quick insights can be run on a whole dataset or single dashboard tile.

To generate insights on a dashboard tile, hover of the ellipses to expand More Options and click on View Insights.

Screenshot of Insights Dashboard on Microsoft Power BI

Options Panel in Quick Insights – Microsoft Power BI

The tile opens in Focus mode with the insights cards displayed on the right.

Screenshot of Focus Mode on Power BI

Run insights on insights in Power BI

You can even choose to run insights on insights when you select an insight card it will then appear on the left, and the data based on the data in that single insight will be displayed on the right.

Again, users can choose to pin these insight tiles to a dashboard if they wish.

Focus Mode

In cases where a user is interested in a particular visual, that is perhaps tucked away in the corner of a dashboard, Power BI has a feature called Focus Mode.

Focus mode lets you expand (pop out) a visual or tile to see more detail for dedicated interaction and review.

It also includes the ability to open the filter pane for the visual, which is not available in the regular Dashboard view.

Screenshot of Focus Mode on Power BI

Expand a visual tile using Focus Mode in Power BI

We’ve looked at how you can interrogate Power BI Dashboards, but what about reports?

A Dashboard is a single page or canvas where you can pin visualizations to highlight your data from various reports, it is a summary of data. Whereas a report is a multi-page canvas, allowing for a more detailed presentation of the data.


Whilst you can also apply Focus Mode to visuals in reports, there is another feature called Spotlight, that enables you to put emphasis on one visual above all others.

When you choose the spotlight feature, the selected visual is highlighted, causing all other visuals on the page to be greyed out.

When combined with Bookmarking (see below) Spotlight is one of the features that make Power BI an excellent tool for Digital Story Telling.

Screenshot of Spotlight in Microsoft Power BI | Wellingtone

Highlight the date you need using the spotlight feature in Power BI

Personal Bookmarks

With personal bookmarks, you can create your own set of bookmarks for each report by capturing various states of a report page (including filters, slicers, and state of visuals), give them a name, and later return to each state with just one click!

If the spotlight mode is selected when you add a bookmark, that mode is also retained in the bookmark.

Screenshot of Personal Bookmarks in Microsoft Power BI

Save the various states of report you need using personal bookmarks in Power BI

Power BI also enables you to make any bookmark that you create the default view, so you can land on your favourite view of the report every time you open it.

If at any point you want to clear the bookmark/s and return to the published view of the report, you just need to select the Reset to default button at the top of the page.

Screenshot of Default View in Microsoft Power BI

When you have a collection of bookmarks you would like to present, in order, you can select View from the Bookmarks pane to begin a slideshow. Again, this demonstrates how Power BI can support Digital Story Telling.

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By: Rachel Goodwin

Rachel Goodwin
Senior PPM Consultant, Wellingtone | An experienced PMO professional; P30 and PRINCE 2 certified, skilled at developing and implementing Project & Programme management methodologies, tools and best practices, with the ability to balance formal processes with pragmatism to drive delivery.
Categories: Microsoft PPM

Published: 27 May 2020

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