Use Power BI to Enhance Your Reporting Capabilities in Dynamics 365 Business Central

By Brady Soderstrom | June 11, 2024

Establishing strong reporting capabilities gives you valuable insights you can analyze and act on to improve your business in many ways.

Integrating Power BI with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, you can significantly enhance and streamline your reporting capabilities, gaining deeper insights and improving operational efficiency.

In this blog post, you will discover how this powerful combination of Business Central and Power BI can transform your business intelligence and drive more strategic outcomes. Whether you're a seasoned Power BI user or a newcomer, this blog will provide valuable insights on leveraging Power BI to optimize your reporting capabilities within Business Central.

What is Power BI and How Can It Improve Your Reporting Capabilities?

Power BI is a suite of business tools designed to analyze data and share insights. It allows you to connect to many data sources, compiling data from multiple systems to simplify data preparation. Power BI offers robust data exploration, transformation, and visualization, making it easy to create attractive dashboards. Beyond visualizations, it includes powerful data cleaning and transformation features. With interactive visuals and self-service capabilities, users can create their reports. Power BI is accessible through a desktop app, online service, and mobile app, and it integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft applications like PowerPoint and Teams, making report distribution straightforward.

Now that you have a foundational understanding of Power BI, let's delve into the differences between Power BI Desktop and Power BI Service and how they can maximize your reporting capabilities.

Power BI vs Power BI Service

In a nutshell, Power BI Desktop is a Windows application installed on your computer, primarily used to create and publish reports. It allows you to gather, clean, and transform data from various sources.

On the other hand, Power BI Service, or Power BI Cloud, is an online platform that hosts published reports from Power BI Desktop. This service enables users to create new dashboards, collaborate with colleagues, and set up automatic data refreshes, facilitating easy sharing and collaboration within the organization.

Here is a visual breakdown of the differences between the two:

Power BI vs Power BI Service

Power BI Licensing

To leverage Power BI most effectively for your organization, there are two licensing options to consider. First, with Business Central, users get a free Power BI license, providing you with access to the most common features. You can also purchase a Power BI Pro license for additional features. Here is an outline of the cost and capabilities of these two most commonly used options:

Power BI Licensing

Understanding the Structure of Dynamics 365 Business Central

Before delving into how Business Central connects with Power BI, we will examine its underlying structure. While end users experience a sleek interface across various devices, the backend reveals a complex relational database as illustrated below.

Business Central Structure

This structure comprises interconnected tables, symbolized by the lines in the diagram, forming relationships crucial for data management. To break it down further, tables serve as organized data containers, akin to Excel spreadsheets, with each row representing a distinct record. Understanding this relational database framework is pivotal for comprehending how Business Central integrates with external systems, as it entails navigating this web of interlinked information to ensure seamless operations. But, the question remains… How does Business Central communicate with Power BI? Let’s discuss that next.

How Business Central and Power BI Integrate to Enhance Reporting Capabilities

There are three main ways that Power BI retrieves data from Business Central. They are:

  1. APIs, short for Application Programming Interfaces, are pre-defined connections in Business Central. These APIs offer access to commonly used tables and fields, making them ideal for straightforward reporting tasks. Utilizing APIs for data retrieval doesn't significantly impact BC's performance, even with large data refreshes.
  2. Web Services offer a more customizable approach. Users with the appropriate permissions can create custom endpoints within Business Central to access specific pages, catering to a wide range of data reporting needs. While Web Services provide flexibility, extensive queries may slightly affect system performance, particularly when fetching live data from BC.
  3. Finally, there are custom data points developed by programmers called Advanced APIs. These APIs grant access to all tables within Business Central, ensuring comprehensive data reporting capabilities. Like standard APIs, Advanced APIs don't compromise BC's performance. However, you require a developer, making them suitable for complex reporting scenarios. At Stoneridge, we leverage Advanced APIs to facilitate seamless connections between Power BI and Business Central due to their versatility and robust functionality.

It's important to note that in this blog we have emphasized Power BI Web Services. This is because it's more relevant and practical for non-technical users. If you are interested in other methods or are someone who has greater coding experience, get in touch with us and we can discuss those with you.

When to use Power BI

There are many ways to run reports, but when deciding whether to use Power BI, it's important to consider its effectiveness in bridging gaps between different tables in Business Central. For example, if you need data from separate tables like sales invoice headers and lines, or vendors and vendor ledger entries, Power BI can be a useful, efficient and powerful solution. By creating connections between these tables, Power BI allows you to compile information into cohesive visuals. These reports can then be easily incorporated into your Business Central workspace, appearing on list pages and within your role center for more detailed analysis.

Video Tutorial: How Dynamics 365 Business Central and Power BI Integrate

Want to Learn More Tips on How to Improve Reporting Capabilities?

Get in touch with Stoneridge Software! Our Power BI and Dynamics 365 Business Central experts can help you implement and use both of these solutions and use them to improve your organizational reporting capabilities.

Related Posts

Under the terms of this license, you are authorized to share and redistribute the content across various mediums, subject to adherence to the specified conditions: you must provide proper attribution to Stoneridge as the original creator in a manner that does not imply their endorsement of your use, the material is to be utilized solely for non-commercial purposes, and alterations, modifications, or derivative works based on the original material are strictly prohibited.

Responsibility rests with the licensee to ensure that their use of the material does not violate any other rights.

Start the Conversation

It’s our mission to help clients win. We’d love to talk to you about the right business solutions to help you achieve your goals.

Subscribe To Our Blog

Sign up to get periodic updates on the latest posts.

Thank you for subscribing!