Traditional dashboards within Microsoft Dynamics 365 are powerful, but they do have some limitations. For example, a security model applies. (This can be a pro and a con depending on the analysis). There is limited visual reporting options and a 5000 record limit.
PowerBI and Customer Insights can provide some great additional functionality. However, there are a few things to be aware of before starting a PowerBI implementation with Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Seven things to consider when implementing PowerBI with Microsoft Dynamics 365:
- Version Selection: Be careful and choose the PowerBI version wisely (Free, Pro, Premium) due to data limits and restrictions!
- Refresh Limits: In order to replicate Dynamics 365 data to PowerBI you need to turn on the Data Export Service in your Dynamics Subscription. And you must have “Change Tracking” enabled. Changes are pushed “near real time”, however based on the version of PowerBI there are limits to how often you can refresh.
- Storage Costs: If you want to use PowerBI and Customer Insights, it requires two separate data replication paths. Customer Insights runs on a Graph database and does not use the same data as PowerBI. Likewise, the Common Data Model has its own data source, and is a third replication destination. Each has its specific purpose, so it just means that you need to have a replication strategy and to limit data going to each source in order to control storage costs.
- Replication Strategy: Replicating Dynamics 365 data to PowerBI does add complexity to reporting due to the 365 Meta Schema versus a custom designed schema. Some may choose custom replication options to store data in a more streamlined manner.
- Embed Options: While you can create links to Dynamics 365 records for drill down in PowerBI reports, PowerBI does limit iFraming of components inside of Dynamics 365. So, for example, at this time, you can not embed a PowerBI report on an entity in Dynamics 365. Just the dashboards. You can insert a “report button” or URL link which can launch PowerBI with a unique URL. Using the URL to pass Dynamics 365 data to the PowerBI client allows for contextual reports (assuming they are written that way.)
- Security Models: Sharing reports in PowerBI does not respect the Dynamics 365 security models. So if you share PowerBI reports, be careful!
- Sharing Costs: Sharing reports outside your organization adds cost. Third party products provide this capability, but most charge every time the report is accessed, which can add up.
The team at Crowe Horwarth we can help you determine the right option for your business. And make you aware of all the important considerations, before the implementation.
If you are interested in evaluating Microsoft Dynamics 365 (formerly Microsoft Dynamics CRM) contact us today.
By Cullen Hunter, Crowe Horwath, a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Gold Partner www.CroweCRM.com
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