Users that want to setup Power BI Automated Emails can utilize Report Subscriptions to e-mail individual users or groups. The functionality comes with some limitations, which at times can be overcome by utilizing Power BI Embedded. A special SKU that enables a number of reporting and automation features.
One of the best features of Power BI is the ability to create and share interactive dashboards. The platform is easy to use and quick to learn.
The reality is that even the easiest system requires users to go out of their way to learn it. Fortunately, Microsoft makes it easy for users to receive an e-mail notification that a Power BI report is ready for them to look at.
To automatically e-mail a Power BI Report, follow these steps. Publish a dashboard to the Power BI Service. Open the dashboard from the Power BI Service at powerbi.com and click on Subscribe to Report. Step through the settings to add users or groups and set the time and frequency an e-mail should be sent.
The setup is quick and fairly straightforward.
We’ll take a look at the process in more detail and provide an example of what the final e-mail looks like.
In addition, we’ll examine some workarounds for embedding a Power BI dashboard directly into the body of an e-mail instead of using a link or an attachment using a combination of Power Automate and Power BI Embedded.
Let’s dive in!
Email Power BI reports with Power BI Report Subscriptions
Microsoft refers to e-mailing Power BI reports as Report Subscriptions. The feature has evolved over the last several years and has gone from a premium feature to being included in a Power BI Pro license. This is the standard tier that most organizations will already have.
We’ll take a look at licensing requirements to schedule and automatically e-mail Power BI reports.
Let’s look at how to setup an automated e-mail.
Step 1.) Publish a Power BI report from Power BI Desktop
Once you’ve created your Power BI Report or Dashboard in Power BI Desktop, it has to be published to the Power BI Service for it to be scheduled. Use the Publish button in the top right of the Power BI ribbon to Publish a report to PowerBI.com
Step 2.) Open the report in PowerBI.com and click on Subscribe to Report
After the report is published to the Power BI Service, you can open the report. When you view it, there is an option called Subscribe to Report. This is where you can add a schedule and which users will receive the report.
Step 3.) Create a New Report Subscription
Power BI creates subscriptions at the report level. Meaning that you can add one schedule for a report and add multiple users and groups to it. This makes it easier to manage when there are a number of reports being automated across your organization.
Step 4.) Select the Report Options and Add Recipients
There are a number of options you can choose from when automatically e-mailing Power BI Reports. The most important one is the Subscription Name, which is what you will use when editing the report automation in the future. Use a descriptive name that will make it easy to identify.
The second most important section is the list of recipients.
Recipients must be within your organization, typically defined by Microsoft as under the same domain name such as @www.popautomation.com.
You can either add individual users or user groups. If you work for a large organization, we recommend using user groups to avoid having to maintain a distribution list if it’s already being maintained by IT. Distribution groups typically run through Azure Active Directory and large organizations will usually have a dedicated Active Directory admin that can help manage groups.
Other options are fairly straightforward. Report Start Date, End Date for limited duration reports and how often you would like the report to run and time for the e-mail to be sent.
Note: Make sure that the report has an automatic refresh schedule. The report should be scheduled for a full refresh to complete before the e-mail is scheduled to be sent. For Power BI reports that are part of a larger process, you can also use Power Automate to Dynamically Refresh Power BI datasets.
Power BI also provides a number of additional options such as setting up a custom e-mail subject, or message in the body of the e-mail. You can also choose whether or not to include a link to view the Power BI report or only have an attachment.
Note: Power BI will not automatically embed a report in the body of an e-mail, but it will embed a preview of a report page.
We included a screenshot of the final automated report below.
Step 5.) Click Save Report
Step 6.) Use the Send Now button to test the report (Depending on the user groups assigned, you may want to hold off until a normal schedule)
Step 7.) Review the Final Automated Power BI E-mail Report
When you complete the steps above, end users will receive an e-mail like the one below. This specific one has an attached PDF of a report, along with a link to the Power BI dashboard and a screenshot of a page of the Power BI report.
It’s a fast way to ensure that people get the information that they need without having to go too far out of their way to get it. An e-mail with several ways to ingest the data will make it very easy for click on and be able to drill into the data even more with the classic Power BI interface.
Power BI Report Subscription Licensing Requirements
Power BI requires users to have one of three licenses when receiving Power BI report e-mail subscriptions.
- Power BI Pro
- Power BI Premium Per User
- A Power BI Premium Capacity
Users receiving reports must also be within the same domain.
If you want the capability to automatically e-mail or share reports outside of your company’s domain, Microsoft offers a special SKU called Power BI Embedded.
Power BI Embedded and E-mailing Reports
Any time you want to share a Power BI report outside of an organization, such as making it part of a publicly facing website, Microsoft requires you to have Power BI Embedded. It’s a special add-on to Power BI that lets you embed reports using HTML, the coding language behind webpages.
By using HTML, it also allows you to embed a Power BI dashboard into the body of an e-mail.
Creating a Power BI report that’s embedded directly into an e-mail body is no simple task. There are quite a few number of steps involved in the process, and we honestly would not recommend it due to the complexity of the process and likeliness that it would break and be difficult to fix.
Luckily, Jason Davidson took the time to explain the process and posted it on YouTube!
The video takes embedding Power BI reports a step further and also makes them dynamic based on various KPI’s as triggers. It’s an interesting use case, but worth pointing out that Power BI recently added a number of features specifically related to KPI and variance reporting.
Automating Power BI KPI and Metric Reports
One of the newer features in Power BI is the capability to setup e-mail alerts when a certain metrics is met or if a variance tolerance is exceeded.
This feature helps enable real-time corrections of potential problems. Especially useful within manufacturing environments or companies that are trying to control labor costs and over-time.
Setting alerts in Power BI enables notifications for data changes on three specific visuals.
Users must have either a Pro or Premium license, and a dataset must be scheduled to have automatically refreshed data.
To set it up, users need to define rules and details, and when a threshold is reached, an alert is sent to the Notification center or email.
Here’s another video going into greater detail of automated KPI reporting features available in Power BI.
Power BI reports can be quickly scheduled using the Subscribe to Report feature after a report has been published to the Power BI Service. Users are required to have a Power BI license to receive e-mailed reports and there are some limitations such as not being able to embed a full report into the body of an e-mail.
By utilizing Power Automate and Power BI embedded, reports can be fully embedded into the body of an e-mail and schedule. However, it can be a complex and involved process to setup.
A newer feature to the Power BI platform is the ability to automatically send e-mail alerts when a KPI target is triggered. Targets can either be favorable and unfavorable. Notifications are either sent to a consolidated KPI tracker on Power BI service or can be setup to e-mail specific users.