Public Sector / Modern BI

Centralized Power BI Reporting Brings Clarity to State Governments

SB_Power BI


State governments have the desire to be data driven and also have many reporting requirements. Departments and Agencies want to empower their staffs to analyze information to make better policies and build better programs while also ensuring that data remains protected when needed. IT Departments also want to enable departments to conduct their own analyses so it reduces bottleneck issues about producing data, but also want to ensure there are controls in place. Many state governments look to Power BI to solve these issues. BlueGranite worked with several state governments to investigate and work to upgrade their Power BI capacities. 

The Challenges

State governments likely begin to use Power BI in one of two ways:  

  • The IT Team determines the organization needs a single way to do its Business Intelligence and data visualization work and begins to deploy the software in a centralized way to the rest of the organization. This can be a challenge because each individual department may have its own preferences, might have already begun using another product, and requires a lot of thought about governance, access, and monitoring.  
  • Individual departments or staff download Power BI desktop and start using it for their own purposes. They may buy individual Power BI licenses. While this serves the needs of that staff member, it can create challenges because as Business Intelligence needs grow, the IT team may need to get involved in helping to support, provide data, or figuring out how to share content across the organization.  

The centralized/decentralized approaches and challenges are normal for many types of organizations. They can each have their benefits as well, but State governments need to think about the best ways to manage for scale in the long term. 

The Solution

BlueGranite worked with multiple State governments, each facing either the centralized or decentralized challenges mentioned above.  

Centralized Management:
In one State government, the IT team had been working with Power BI for about a year and multiple agencies adopted the tool during that time. The State was interested in expanding Power BI training to end users and also ensured the IT team was aligning their governance approach to best practices, including setting up workspaces, gateway architecture, planning for scalability, and distribution of content. 

This government had seen a rapid increase in users and also knew that there would quickly be a need to migrate existing Crystal Reports to a Power BI model or paginated report. 

BlueGranite delivered its Power BI fundamentals training as well as a half-day governance workshop. Additionally, BlueGranite did a deep-dive on security and administration related to the Power BI gateway architecture so the IT team was ready to scale them up and out. BlueGranite also did a comprehensive review of the State’s Power BI tenant and offered recommendations. 

Decentralized Management:
In another State Government, the IT team owned the Power BI platform itself, but each agency could independently operate. Because each department might approach their use in a different way, having centralized best practices and controls was important. 

BlueGranite offered a 2-day Power BI training course and a 3-day governance quick start. BlueGranite used a monitoring utility it developed to do a one-time health check of the State’s current deployment. 

These reviews helped the organization better understand how it could own the platform centrally while still enabling individual department management, all while controlling for appropriate billing, chargebacks, and licensing.  

Additionally, there was one Agency within this Government that used Tableau heavily and was not excited about moving to Power BI. BlueGranite worked with this agency to show them how Power BI operated and ultimately got them more comfortable with the move. 

The Results

The results from these engagements allowed for the governments with a more decentralized approach to Power BI to get a handle on making appropriate changes to better manage the software. On the other side, the fully centralized approach was able to shift to one where agencies had more ability to access and control information within reason.  

Centralized Management:
The Government leveraged the recommendations from BlueGranite about the gateway architecture and implemented a more scalable, fault tolerant architecture. They are also working to operationalize an auditing tool BlueGranite offers. Additionally, they were working to set up a governance committee to formalize a workflow that would allow for more scale and prioritization. Previously, there hadn’t been a good way to strategize around forecasting what projects to tackle. With better operational efficiencies, reducing the risk of downtime with gateways along with more secure distribution of potentially sensitive content, this Government was in a good place to allow more departments and agencies to build on their own. They are now helping to build adoption by key users and developers in a well thought out manner. 

Decentralized Management:
The Government took BlueGranite’s recommendations and now is working to implement as policy. Previously their staff had built manually-updating Power BI reports, they are now ready to automate the process for updating their dashboards. This government had Premium capacity for Power BI but was not using resources and feature sets to their full capability – BlueGranite helped to ensure they had best practices in place to use Power BI Premium capacity more efficiently and better utilize Premium only features. 

BlueGranite was able to work with this government to address some critical components for the Power BI implementation including content management, licensing considerations, and awareness of potential pitfalls. Ultimately, BlueGranite helped them better define their own goals and strategies. 

Interested in learning more about how BlueGranite can help accelerate your modern analytics solution? Contact us today.


Kickstart Your Digital Transformation With BlueGranite's Business Intelligence Solutions