What’s the best way to keep track of where your company’s money is going? Many accountants would probably say that spreadsheets are the fastest and easiest tools for the job. However, there is another that is even simpler and more reliable: Custom Power BI accounting dashboards.
This powerful visualization software gives you complete control over all company financials, from inventory and sales revenue to vendor invoices and detailed bank statements. Power BI’s accounting dashboards keep it all in one place so you don’t have to track it down.
To leverage this software, use Power BI accounting dashboard best practices. This guide will help you build an efficient and sleek-looking dashboard to help you run a lean business.
Why Use a Power BI Accounting Dashboard?
Microsoft’s Power BI is one of the best accounting tools because it helps users see financial information in complex new ways that standard spreadsheets don’t support.
You can manually enter sales revenue data into an Excel spreadsheet and display them in one of the basic charts or graphs available in Excel. However, these visuals aren’t as compelling, detailed, or customizable as Power BI’s visuals. They’re also harder to share, as you have to save and upload the graphics into separate slideshows or reports. You also can’t edit them on the fly without accessing the original spreadsheet, manually changing the data, and creating a brand new graphic containing the updated information.
With a Power BI accounting dashboard, you can generate engaging visuals to help you understand your company’s sales, like:
- Colorful pie charts showing opportunity count by region;
- Detailed bar charts showing total revenue by sales stage;
- Heat maps showing total revenue per branch;
- Line graphs comparing projected sales to actual sales; and more.
There are more visual options in Power BI than there are in Excel, but these visuals are also much easier to share and edit. When you create a Power BI accounting dashboard, you can include data filters that automatically adjust the graphics as you remove or add data. Power BI also lets you generate reports or add graphics to slideshow presentations instantly. You won’t waste time saving graphics, manually inserting them into documents or presentations, and adjusting the size or layout to fit the page.
Another benefit of Power BI for accounting is that you can continue using Excel, Power Query, and other Microsoft-supported accounting tools in tandem with the software. Power BI is simply a visualization generator that connects to data sources and displays data in an aesthetically-pleasing way. It makes it easy for accountants to balance the budget and identify potential financial trouble long before it impacts the company’s bottom line.
How to Make the Most of Power BI Accounting Dashboards
If you plan on using Power BI for accounting, you should follow these three best practices:
- Choose the right Power BI accounting license.
To use Power BI for accounting, you can sign up for a free account or upgrade to a Pro or Premium license. The free account enables you to create visuals and dashboards as well as store a limited amount of data in the cloud. The Pro version builds on the free version, allowing you to share and collaborate on dashboards with other Pro users in your organization. Meanwhile, the Premium version is much more advanced than either the free or Pro versions, allowing you to perform more detailed data analysis and store more data in the cloud.
The license you choose depends on your needs. Most accountants will be perfectly happy with the free version, since it includes plenty of visual templates. However, if you are part of an accounting team or share information with a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), then a Power BI Pro license is a better choice. If you plan on only using Power BI for accounting, a Premium license offers more features than you’ll probably use. This is only the best choice if you store data on premise or require more cloud storage space.
- Clean up your data.
The main problem with financial data is that it isn’t always well-organized or normalized. If you don’t clean your data first, then the visuals you create with Power BI will look messy. Cleaning up your spreadsheets and datasets take time, but it’s worth the extra effort because it enables you to produce cleaner-looking visuals and govern your data more effectively.
- Build project-specific dashboards.
Once you have a Power BI accounting license and a system for organizing your data, you can start building custom financial dashboards. The best method is to build one unique dashboard for every project or department. This prevents dashboards from becoming too complicated or cluttered, so you can focus on issue at hand.
For example, you can use one dashboard to track overall company expenditures and revenue across all departments for a bird’s eye view of what’s happening. You can build more detailed dashboards tracking expenditures and revenue for each individual department or product to identify specific areas for improvement.
Here are some examples of effective Power BI accounting dashboards, by data type tracked.
- Transactions: Type and amount, including debits and credits;
- Invoices: Payment status and accounts receivable;
- Monthly ledgers: Company balance;
- Budget: Including projections and goals;
- International sales and vendors: Including exchange rate calculations;
- Inventory: By location and value. You can also use these dashboards to calculate depreciation;
- Total revenue: from sales by product or location;
- Payroll: Payment timeliness and estimated salary offerings for future hires.
The specific visuals you choose for each dashboard depends on what you want to track and how you prefer to organize the information. Because Power BI accounting dashboards are customizable, you can build them around your preferred workflow. For more specific tips on how to build the most effective dashboard, consult this detailed guide to dashboard database design.
The Best Way to Create Impressive Accounting Dashboards
Power BI isn’t the only tool accountants can use to track and visualize finances. While this software is robust, it isn’t perfect for every business.
For example, you have to clean up your data and set up a secure data storage system of your own before you can start using Power BI for accounting. This is a major problem if you want to schedule data updates automatically, as you may inadvertently introduce errors into your visuals. It’s common to export blank cells or flawed data from Excel, which could ruin the look and accuracy of your visuals. Currently, Power BI doesn’t have a reliable system for cleaning up this data automatically. Another limitation of Power BI for accounting is that it’s difficult to tell where exactly each visual should go on the dashboard, particularly if you’ve never designed one before.
This is why many accountants choose to work with third party dashboard accounting experts to help them build the most efficient system possible. These experts can:
- Automate the data collection, storage, and normalization process so accountants never have to do this work themselves;
- Create custom visualization dashboards based on the accountant’s workflow and financial strategy;
- Incorporate stunning Power BI visuals into these dashboards for a polished final look; and
- Include more advanced data analytics, including predictive models to help accountants make better financial decisions.
An accounting dashboard allows you to see your data in an entirely new light. By enlisting the help of experts with experience designing these complex visualization tools, you’ll lead your company to financial success.
If you’re an accountant looking to upgrade your financial data visualization system, contact Tek Leaders today. Our team of Power BI experts will help you build dashboards to balance the budget, project future earnings, track recent expenditures, and more. If you have questions about the data visualization services we offer, you can reach us by email directly.
Devender (Dev) Aerrabolu