When it comes to maximising insights and enabling data-driven decision-making, Microsoft Power BI is one of the best business analytics tools on the market - especially for Xero users.
Xero is one of 350 + third-party platforms that have native connectors with Power BI. Essentially, it has full, automated integration with Power BI, allowing businesses to efficiently and easily consolidate their Xero datasets into Power BI’s visually rich dashboards and reports.
The end result? More shareable reports, greater insights, and accurate decision-making.
In this article, we cover how to integrate Power BI and Xero in 2019, why you should care, and the top 3 reasons to integrate your Xero data into Microsoft’s self-service BI tool.
Power BI and Xero integration: Why should I care?
Microsoft Power BI is a cloud-based data analytics tool made specifically for business analysts.
It’s a self-service, user-friendly way of monitoring your business performance with high-level dashboards and detailed reports that are interactive in nature thanks to rich visualisations.
It’s also extremely accessible for end-users, as reports can easily be shared and viewed on multiple devices: Desktop, laptops, smartphones and tablets, ensuring data is shareable.
Advanced users can also leverage Power BI’s advanced features, but its real value is in helping non-technical analysts efficiently create dashboards and reports for end-users to consume and keep up-to-date on key parts of the business, and identify trends and opportunities.
In turn, this level of self-service helps everyone extract more actionable insights for more informed decision-making. It also helps users drill down into specific metrics like sales with better precision, and even find answers they might not manually find using the Quick Insights and natural language processing features such as Power BI Q&A to generate hidden insights.
Power BI comes as two separate versions. The first is essentially a web client app that lets users create and view data and dashboards shared with them, and a desktop version (Power BI Desktop) used to actually build dashboards and reports. Read our comparison guide on Power BI Desktop vs Power BI Pro vs Power BI Premium for more detailed information.
Power BI and Xero integration: Top benefits and advantages
For accountants and bookmakers, Power BI integration with Xero can help in multiple ways:
- Accounting data in one place: High-level overview of your entire business in a single high-level dashboard that regular users can understand at a glance.
- Accessible and more regular reporting: Shareable data insights with all users across multiple devices in seconds.
- Better data storytelling and presentation: More visually engaging and accessible reports for your accounting data thanks to easy-to-use visualisations.
- Data across on-premises and cloud sources consolidated: Xero data is no longer siloed to just a few people, with sources brought together into one place - Power BI.
- Side-by-side comparison: An easier way to compare and contrast your Xero data across other apps for performance evaluation and insights extraction.
Power BI is ultimately one of the most accessible business analytics tools that companies using Xero can begin taking advantage of immediately to modernise their data reports with rich visualisations.
How? Through a seamless, automated connector. Xero can integrate with Power BI in minutes.
How to connect Xero with Power BI for data analytics integration
Connecting Xero with Power BI to enable seamless integration is easier than you might think.
From the Power BI portal, all you need to do is click ‘Get Data’, proceed to ‘Services’ and get the Xero Content Pack to get started. You need to log in and authenticate your company’s Xero account via OAuth; after approval, Power BI will begin importing your Xero data automatically.
The process takes minutes at most; once complete, a new dashboard, report and model will be available to view in Power BI’s navigation panel, with the latest information of your dataset.
Alternatively, if your business has Office 365 Enterprise, users can sign up to Power BI and directly access the service via the O365 dashboard. You can kick-off the installation service using the application launcher that lets you switch between Office, OneDrive and Power BI.
This process is repeatable for each and every Xero organisation your business has access to, and only displays information that the Xero login has access to. This lets you create dashboards relating to specific information, such as Sales data for a member with a Xero Sales-Only role.
Below, we sound off on the top 3 reasons you should integrate Xero with Power BI today.
#1. Xero with Power BI: Easy monitoring with rich reporting
Once the Xero and Power BI integration process is complete, your company’s Xero data will be displayed on a new dashboard for a high-level, at-a-glance overview of your business data.
This dashboard is an interactive overview landing page pre-populated with your Xero datasets and 30 insights categories, all created out-of-the-box with no advanced setup. These categories, or tiles, are displayed as lists, numbers, graphs and items, and can be moved around or deleted completely.
When you click on a specific tile, you get a more detailed report which tells you where the information is sourced from, account names and dates, as additional filters grouped into tabs.
You can edit each tile with different types of rich visualisations, and additional or different data-sets for further customisation to display the most relevant and accurate information you require for your users’ monitoring and reporting - in a visually engaging and easy-to-read way.
#2. Xero with Power BI: Valuable decision-making data, in one place
Making data accessible can often be a challenge when it’s dispersed across several on-premises and cloud-based applications, across separate entities, on a national or international scale.
Integrating your Xero datasets with Power BI means you have one strategic end-point (a SaaS BI platform) for all entities using critical business applications to draw data from to drive more data-driven decision-making. Considering our Xero data is primarily financial and sales in nature, accuracy, accessibility and reliability are absolutely necessary to inform our decisions.
With the in-built connector, effective integration of dispersed Xero data into Power BI is easier than it ever has been.
However, it’s a different case for data outside of Xero.
While Xero itself is just as streamlined as Power BI and would most likely contain most of the data your business needs to begin analysing with the default Power BI integration, bringing outside datasets together is a different matter and may need a roadmap and solution to solve.
For more detailed dashboards and reports, as well as integration with datasets outside of Xero that may need to be consolidated, a cloud and data integration specialist like Xello is currently the reccomended option to help consult, develop and deploy your Xero integration with Power BI the right way.
#3. Xero with Power BI: Natural Language with Q&A
Having your Xero data in Power BI enables you to interact with it in many neat new ways.
One such feature is Power BI Q&A, which uses natural language processing (NLP), to offer users unique ways to explore datasets and find additional insights and opportunities.
Power BI Q&A works by asking the program specific questions, which it responds to after parsing through datasets and producing results that are most relevant to your query. It visualises answers for additional context, and even shares helpful suggestions to help lead you to the next key question to ask of your report. Visualisations also shift on-the-fly as your question changes.
With Q&A, you can ask Power BI to display monthly sales performance as a graph or pie-chart. Your users can drill down into relevant results instantly, without being experts.
Power BI’s NLP capabilities are effectively a machine learning (ML) model. Your report authors (creators of dashboards and reports) can set company-specific language and phrases for Power BI to adapt to and guarantee users get accurate, relevant results; you can also log every single natural-language query asked to optimise future responses.
Xero and Power BI integration: Next essential steps
As streamlined as integrating Xero with Power BI is in 2019, we recognise many organisations would prefer to have the guiding hand of experts and consultancies to ensure a seamless integration with all key business drivers and considerations taken into account.
Xello have helped many customers integrate their Xero datasets, along with data from other SaaS applications, on-premises and cloud sources, into Power BI for more visible reporting and data-driven analytics.
Need help integrating your Xero with Power BI? The team at Xello have created a free business intelligence whitepaper to help you get started.
Our report covers the best practices required for successful data analytics transformation using the right adoption framework.
Download our free BI whitepaper guide to help kick-start your Xero and Power BI integration - and learn how Xello can help you integrate both the right way.