We cover the best resources available for people looking to learn Power BI. Whether you’re completely new to the platform, a casual user, or looking to turn Power BI development into a full-time career, we provide some insights into where to start and resources to look into that will make your learning journey more productive.
Power BI on the surface is an easy platform for learn. Many of the components are drag and drop, such as setting up visualizations and designing dashboards. However, there is a lot of nuance and difficulty in building data models and working with different datasets that require you to write custom DAX functions and understand the platform architecture in greater detail.
If we were starting our Power BI learning process from the start, here are some of the things we would consider!
Table of Contents
Embrace the Pareto Principle of Productivity
When you start your Power BI learning journey, we highly recommend focusing on topics that are immediately relevant to your use case. Power BI is an extremely versatile platform with thousands of configuration options and formulas that you could learn.
The Pareto Principle is the 80/20 rule, or the idea that 80% of the effect comes from 20% of the cause. In other words, you want to focus on the 20% of Power BI that will let you utilize 80% of the tool to create dashboards and reports.
Don’t get caught up in resources that promise to explain every single option and every button. It will be too much information to make use of. Instead find some resources to get you started and purchase some guides to keep as reference material that you can rely on for the more complex and less common challenges.
High Level Learning Plan for Power BI
Structured classes and books will have a much greater level of detail for a learning plan, but to get you started, these are the top 5 areas that we would focus on.
1. Install Power BI Desktop
Installing Power BI Desktop is the first critical step because it’s the platform where you will perform all your data analysis and visualization tasks. It’s also the tool that you will use every day if you choose to become a certified Power BI professional. Installing Power BI Desktop only takes a few minutes and will let you start getting hands on experience building dashboards.
2. Learn to Import Data
Importing data is crucial because Power BI serves to analyze data from various sources. Your ability to bring data into the platform drives everything else in a report. From building a data model, transforming it, prepping it, displaying it, the data that you have to work with will have a huge impact on what you’re able to learn.
3. Master Data Modeling
Understanding data relationships and hierarchies allows you to create more robust and insightful reports. Mastery of Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) also provides you the flexibility to transform your data as needed, making your analyses more powerful. Data Modeling and prepping data is often the most complicated and time consumer part of report building.
4. Add Visualizations
Adding visual elements like charts and tables is vital for making your data easily interpretable. Good visualization enables stakeholders to instantly grasp complex data patterns, making your reports more impactful. This is the part that gets all of the glory, and having the design and presentation knowledge to effectively communicate a dashboard is a crucial skill for data visualization.
5. Publish and Share Reports
The end goal of any Power BI project is usually to share insights with others. Learning how to publish and share reports ensures that your data analysis can have a broader impact. Understanding the security and data governance implications of the Power BI platform has a lot of detail and comes into play when sharing.
Now that you know what to learn, let’s look at how to learn!
Leverage AI for More Efficient Learning
Get familiar with and leverage tools like ChatGPT. ChatGPT is an AI bot that uses Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning to convert requests in plain English to complex customized responses. One of the best parts of it is the ability to ask questions, receive answers and ask additional follow-up. questions.
The conversational nature of interacting with ChatGPT means that you can ask how to do something in Power BI, receive a detailed response, and ask for clarification when there are items that you don’t understand. ChatGPT can also be leveraged with Power BI to help build reports and is likely going to be the future of the platform.
For more ideas, check out our guide to using ChatGPT and Power BI together for better dashboard development.
The more you learn now about AI and how to use it, the easier being productive in the workplace will be in the future.
Online Course Platforms to Learn Power BI
While there are a number of training resources available for Power BI, some of the most popular and most cost effective ones are from online platforms such as Coursea and Udemy. Courses come in many different price points, lengths, and varying degrees of quality.
With some courses coming in under $10 per course when they’re on sale, they’re very low risk and often structured in a logical way to take you from beginner to advanced.
Sticking to the 80/20 rule of putting in 20% of the effort to get 80% of the desired results, we would focus on finding courses that are a moderate length. Too many times online courses will state that they offer something like 100+ hours of Power BI training and the reality is that’s 2.5 normal work weeks and would be a waste of time to sit through it all.
Purchase the Best Power BI Training Books
Another great way to learn Power BI is through the use of books. With everybody on Tik Tok and YouTube these days, it might sound old timey, but a good book can be an indispensable reference guide for more obscure topics that are not well documented online.
For an example, people looking to become professional Power BI developers and spend a lot of time in the platform would be well served by purchasing a professional guide to learning DAX like Extreme DAX
We cover the Best Books to Learn Power BI in our detailed guide covering books about Power BI and recommended complimentary skill sets to invest time into learning.
Microsoft Dashboard in a Day
Meant to be taught in a workshop or by a professional trainer, Microsoft offers a course called Dashboard in a Day. You can download the datasets and follow along with pre-made PowerPoint slides explaining the different components of Power BI. Some consulting and training companies will charge hundreds of dollars per student to attend classes to learn dashboard building, but Microsoft makes the material available for free.
You might need to spend a bit more time with it than if someone was leading you through it, but these courses combined with AI resources like ChatGPT will get you a quick start of hands-on experience.
Build Practice Power BI Dashboards
Data visualization professionals and Power BI developers will find that a key resource to finding and securing work is their dashboard portfolio. There is also no better way to learn how to build a dashboard than actually putting in the time to build them.
The exact dashboard will vary based on the skills you are trying to learn or showcase, but you can download a wide range of starting datasets from Kaggle, an Open-Source library of datasets and machine learning projects that you can use to explore and build your own dashboard portfolio.
Power BI is an excellent data visualization tool and one of the most widely used business intelligence products available today. We hope these tips give you an idea of how to efficiently learn Power BI. By leveraging online courses, books, AI, and sample datasets to get hands on practice we think you’ll be able to learn a wide range of skills in a short period of time.
As you’re learning, we recommend not getting caught up in every detail of what is possible in Power BI and focus on the basics. This way you can learn the subset of options and tools that let you create the majority of dashboards and visualizations you need and can reference and research the more niche areas as needed.
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