How do you monitor the success of your projects? Every project manager uses different methods to track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and make sure their teams are hitting important targets. With so many KPIs to monitor, it’s difficult for project managers to decide at a glance whether a project is on the right track.

Whether you’re looking for a more streamlined way to track KPIs or you want to make faster decisions, Power BI KPI Matrix is an essential tool. This Power BI application add-on is designed specifically to build project scorecards and track KPIs from a single list. In this guide, you’ll discover five visual tools in Power BI KPI Matrix that are must-haves for managing complex projects.

What is Power BI KPI Matrix?

Power BI KPI Matrix is a free add-on for Power BI that you can use to create project scorecards (also known as balanced scorecards) without having to build each component of the scorecard by-hand. With this tool, project managers can almost instantly: 

  • List high-level goals;
  • Order these goals by priority or category; and
  • Track and measure key targets and performance metrics to complete the project.

The add-on is also useful for looking at all of your KPIs in one place. Most busy project managers don’t have time to search for this information in different spreadsheets. Power BI KPI Matrix is a much simpler way to organize this data.

The tool works by taking data from various sources and exporting it into a scorecard template. The basic template includes seven optional columns or rows:

  1. Category: Shows the type of data or KPI being displayed and groups together similar KPIs
  2. Subcategory: A more detailed grouping of KPIs
  3. KPI Name: The exact name of the metric being tracked (e.g. gross revenue or average price)
  4. Current Value: A bird’s-eye view of the KPI’s overall value in numerical form
  5. KPI Status: The completion status of the KPI or task, usually displayed as a percentage
  6. Prior Year Comparison: Each KPI is automatically compared to the same metrics from the previous year
  7. Trend: A sparkline (simple line chart) showing the historical progress or value of each KPI over time

Project managers don’t have to include all of these columns or rows in their scorecards; the template is very customizable. Managers can even change the color or the symbols used to track each KPI. There are also options for interacting with the data when you hover over or click on each cell.

Five Ways to Use Power BI KPI Matrix for Project Management

There are five visual tools that are particularly powerful for keeping track of complex projects in Power BI KPI Matrix: 

  1. Hyperlinks and drill-downs: You can link complex Power BI reports to the KPI Matrix scorecard with hyperlinks. When you click on a hyperlink in the scorecard, a small window will pop up that shows you an expanded view of that specific data set. You can also hover over the sparkline column to see a larger and more detailed version. It’s an easy way to quickly drill down through the data without having to pull up individual reports. 
  2. Custom sparklines: You can make your sparklines more detailed by changing the color to match KPI status or by adding specific target baselines to the chart. Customizing this visual component helps you tie your sparklines more strongly to your data. 
  3. Bound visuals: Embedding or binding a custom visual to the scorecard via hyperlinks makes it easy to see how each KPI relates to other important operational factors or data. For instance, you can create a detailed visual that shows the actual average price vs. the target price and bind this to the average price KPI cell in the Matrix chart. 
  4. Expandable and collapsible categories: If you’re tracking multiple KPIs with Power BI KPI Matrix, then this is an essential visual tool. It enables you to temporarily hide or display cells, columns, or rows by category. If you just want to focus on the current values and trends for just one category of KPIs, then you can hide the rest of the information without losing any of it or reconfiguring the scorecard. 
  5. Strategic maps: Downloadable custom Power BI visuals like Visio can take the information in the KPI Matrix and automatically create a strategic project map based on it. With the click of a button, you can generate flow charts from your KPIs and targets and even organize tasks by priority, timeline, or the person the task is assigned to. It’s designed to work seamlessly with Power BI KPI Matrix and save hours of time compared with building a strategic map from scratch. 

Power BI KPI Matrix is more than just a simple scorecard template. When you make use of the other visual tools that Power BI offers or download custom visuals that work in tandem with KPI Matrix, you’ll manage all of your projects and data with ease.

Should Project Managers Use Power BI KPI Matrix?

Since Power BI KPI Matrix is a free add-on, there’s no risk in testing it on your projects. Many project managers find that the basic template is incredibly easy to use and helps them create detailed scorecards for tracking even the most complex KPIs.

There are also some limitations in Power BI KPI Matrix that may make it difficult for you to incorporate it into your project management process. For example, some users find the system very confusing to use, especially when trying to format or customize the scorecard. You’re also limited to the visuals available within Power BI KPI Matrix. While you can link to more detailed reports and visuals, you don’t have the option to swap out the sparklines for bar charts or other visuals.

One of the biggest problems with the system is that it has a steep learning curve, especially if you’re not familiar with Power BI. Slicing and dicing data, moving columns, and changing the look of sparklines can be a challenge unless you know where to look for these options or how to save them permanently to the scorecard.

This is why project managers should consider investing in a custom system for tracking KPIs, building scorecards, and mapping out strategies. When you hire a third-party data analytics firm to build your system, you’re no longer limited to a small set of tools or visual options. A third-party firm can add virtually any visual to the scorecard. These firms can also take things one step further, incorporating details like data filters, predictive models, or interactive menus so that you can analyze your KPIs from every angle.

If you’re looking for ways to improve KPI monitoring or you want to manage your projects more effectively, contact Tek Leaders today. We specialize in designing robust and state of the art data analytics systems, including scorecards and project mapping tools that help project managers leverage their data. If you have more questions about the custom services we offer, you can reach us by email directly.

Author: Devender (Dev) Aerrabolu

Devender (Dev) Reddy Aerrabolu is the CEO of Tek Leaders. His goal is to help SMBs bring value from their data. Dev helped Tek Leaders grow from scratch into a $25 million enterprise by focusing on clients’ data needs.