Tracking Usage in Power BI

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Users of Power BI in Office 365 will often ask if there is a way to see how often people view Power BI reports in the Power BI Service. While the answer is “Yes”, you have to know where to look and what permissions you need. Microsoft provides licensed users of Power BI something called Usage Reporting. This feature has recently been revamped which is why I’m writing this. Their first version and latest version are available for workspace administrators and collaborators to enable and start using right away.

Power BI Usage Reporting got its face lift back in January 2020 and since then, other areas of the Power BI Service have received updates as well. While it’s great to see Microsoft innovating the user experience with Power BI, it can be challenging to keep up with all the changes. Let me explain where to find Power BI Usage Reports.

Turn on Usage Reporting

First, we need to enable the collection of Usage data in a Power BI workspace you either own or are contributing to. This requires 1) a Power BI workspace, preferably a v2 workspace and 2) either Contributor role or higher access to this workspace. Let’s assume you have this covered and have published a report or two.

To open usage reporting, simply view the usage of a particular report. Any report will do. Hover over a report in your workspace, go to the quick actions menu, and pick View usage metrics report.

Or, if you’ve opened a report in your workspace, click on the quick actions menu from the ribbon above the report and select Usage metrics.

When opening a usage report for the first time in a workspace, it enables a hidden dataset in your workspace called the Report Usage Metrics Model. It is set to refresh daily and takes 24 hours to populate with statistics for a particular day. If you see data in the usage report prior to today’s date, you or someone else in your workspace has viewed the Usage metrics already.

Usage for Dashboards

Understand that usage reports for Power BI Dashboards and Power BI Reports are different. So if you’re using both, you’ll need to check both. There’s currently no way to mash the two statistics unless you do something custom with the Activity log. If you guys want to see that, leave me a comment and I’ll write about it in a separate post.

Dashboard usage is triggered identical to Report usage. Simply navigate to your Dashboard, hover the Dashboard you’d like to see usage on, then go to the quick actions menu and select View usage metrics report. Similar menu item exists if you’re already in a Dashboard.

This creates a different hidden dataset in your workspace called Dashboard Usage Metrics Model. Same refresh frequency applies as the Report Usage Metrics Model.

Save a copy of Usage Reports

While Usage Reports are designed to see usage one report or one dashboard at a time, they can also be customized to view all reports in a workspace. You simply save a copy of this report and remove the filter for the Report GUID or Dashboard GUID in the Filter pane. You can add a slicer for the Report Name to view summary statistics for individual reports or across the entire workspace.

To start the process, bring up a Usage metrics report, go to the quick actions menu in the ribbon, and select Save a copy.

You’ll immediately see the Filter Pane contain the filter for Report GUID (or Dashboard GUID for Dashboard Usage) which you can remove.

To add slicers for Report Name, User Name, or any other field in the model, simply edit the copy of this report in the web and modify how you see fit. I’ll blog about this in more detail in another post.

More usage tips later

While these reports work great as a starting point, there are some things left to be desired. Some of these I’ve addressed on my own with custom reports which I’ll blog about later. Some are impossible without doing some custom work with the Activity Log. But hopefully, this gives some of you a head start to make some informed decisions about your content.

Thanks for reading!

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