Top 5 reasons to switch reporting from Excel to Power BI 

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  • Advantages of Microsoft Excel 
  • Advantages of Microsoft Power BI 
  • Excel vs. Power BI: a comparison 
  • What are the key differences between Excel and Power BI? 
  • Conclusion 

If you’ve ever worked with Excel, it may seem like the Swiss army knife of tools: managing customer data, organizing projects, creating reports – anything goes, really. To a certain extent, that’s true, until your customer data, your projects and your reports become more complex. Tools with specific purposes exist for a reason, and it’s important to know when to use them. 

Reporting is definitely one of Excel’s strong suits. It’s related product Power BI, however, offers even more such capabilities. Unless you feel satisfied with what Excel can do for you, we recommend you look into Power BI to get more out of your reporting. 

Advantages of Microsoft Excel 

Whereas we’re inclined to recommend Power BI as a reporting tool, Excel deserves its praises sung. After all, there’s hardly a company on the planet that hasn’t used Excel – and for good reason, because it’s a great and phenomenally successful tool, and the dominant spreadsheet program on the market. 

Excel is intuitive to use and quite flexible, which is why it gets used for many different purposes. Its most useful features include: 

  •  Ad-hoc calculations 
  • Mathematical operations 
  • Data organization 
  • Data analysis 
  • Data exploration 
  • Graphs 
  • Charts 
  • Pivot tables 
  • Spreadsheet functionality 
  • Manual data entry 

Note that there is no standalone application of Excel. It is part of the Microsoft 365 family and thus only available in a package with the other tools of that suite. 

Advantages of Microsoft Power BI 

Excel and Power BI can be used for similar purposes, some of their features even overlap, but both tools still differ in the overall direction they take and in depth of their reporting and visualization capabilities. 

The focus of Power BI is, as the name suggests, business intelligence (BI) with the functionality of data visualization at its core. Among its key strengths are custom dashboards that can be created from a variety of different data sources. 

In Microsoft’s words: “Power BI is a collection of software services, apps, and connectors that work together to turn your unrelated sources of data into coherent, visually immersive, and interactive insights.” 

Advantages of Power BI: 

  •  Large data storage 
  • E-mail alerts to track metrics 
  • Quick view of KPIs in one place 
  • Beautiful visualizations 
  • Cloud-based features that facilitate collaboration

Power BI is available as a desktop application, an online service and a mobile app. 

Comparison: Power BI vs. Excel  

  Excel  Power BI 
Tabular reports  Ideal for creating sophisticated tabular reports  Not suited for tabular reports 
Data sources  Connects to a limited number of data sources  Connects to a large number of data sources 
Data visualization  Advanced charting features that cannot be connected to data models, however  Designed for analyzing data with advanced visuals and optimal for dashboards, alerts and KPIs 
Large data  Working with data bigger than 500 MB is a struggle  Can work with 50 million records and process them faster, too 
Collaboration  Sharing documents and working with others can be complex  Sharing data and reports is fuss-free with Power BI 
Mobile devices  No option for mobile devices   Designed to be used on mobile devices, too 
Dashboards  Dashboard features are limited  More advanced features for creating custom dashboards 
Price  Needs to be purchased with the Microsoft 365 suite  Has a free version and a paid version 

Power BI vs. Excel: what’s the difference? 

  •  Power BI is the perfect tool for companies in terms of business intelligence and data visualization, whereas Excel’s primary purpose is to organize data and perform mathematical operations and calculations.
  • The number of data sources Power BI can connect to is much larger than that of Excel. 
  • Power BI is much more suited to work with large amounts of data than Excel. Data processing in Power BI is faster, too. 
  • When it comes to customizable, interactive and visually appealing dashboards, Power BI clearly wins over Excel. 
  • Power BI is the superior tool when it comes to comparing reports and tables back to back. 
  • Power BI is more user friendly than Excel and can even be used on mobile devices. 


Up to a certain point of complexity, creating your reports with Excel makes sense, much like managing projects there: so long as your processes and demands are fairly simple, by all means, stick with Excel. Keep in mind, however, that generally Excel and Power BI are both used to work, analyze and process data, but have different characteristics and functions. 

In the end, their potential depends on what you need to do with your data:  

Excel is the best option if you would like to transform data, do calculations, apply mathematical formulars and create tabular reports.  Power BI is more suitable for working with Big Data, visualization, integrating data from multiple sources, drawing conclusions and making data-driven decisions. 
Excel is ideal for expert data analysts and its functionality is more diversified.  Power BI is ideal for businesses that need to analyze large amounts of data in a simple way, collaborate as a team and transform data into presentable insights. 

Power BI is perfect for you if: 

  • you need to do comprehensive and thorough data analysis 
  • you need to collaborate on data and files 
  • you work with large amounts of data 
  • it’s necessary to create visually appealing and interactive visualizations and graphics 
  • you work in Business Intelligence 
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