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  • Writer's pictureMichael Sena

Excel to Power BI transition: 6 successful strategies

For many businesses, Power BI is the next step on the analytics transformation roadmap. Implementing this business intelligence platform is usually a large and multidimensional operation.

To help you successfully transition from Excel to Power BI, we asked CEOs and business leaders for their best strategies. From using both programs in conjunction with each other to providing time to digest and practise Power BI, there are several ideas that may help you transition from Excel to Power BI.

Here are six strategies for a successful transition from Excel to Power BI:

Use Power BI in Conjunction with Excel

Keep in mind: in the same way, Excel can’t do everything Power BI can, Power BI can’t do everything Excel can. Power BI, with its far larger workbooks and data capabilities, is the ideal choice for large-scale business analysis. Though Excel, with its plethora of add-ins, still serves an important role for small analyses. I find it’s best to use the two programs in conjunction with each other, as even businesses growing fairly large in scale can still benefit from analyzing smaller groups of data. Save yourself the trouble and don’t try to make one program do everything.

Dan Bladen, Kadence

Provide Training to Inspire Confidence

One crucial thing that everyone should have to successfully transition from Excel to Power BI is confidence and training to adopt it! It's NEVER easy to try to switch from a platform that is so well used and known to a slightly more complicated one. However, Power BI has many additional benefits and options that Excel doesn't and the two tend to work in tandem more than people think. Most people should know that anyone familiar with Excel has used Power Query to import data from external sources. The process is almost identical in Power BI, so it should feel familiar once you dive in.

James Burati, 1-800-PackRat

Understand the Benefits of Power BI

A few things are crucial for successfully transitioning from Excel to Power BI. Still, I would say that the most important thing is having a clear understanding of what Power BI can do and how it can benefit your business. Once you understand that, the transition process becomes much simpler and more streamlined. Additionally, it’s also important to have a good grasp of the Power BI interface and how to use its various features. If you can make use of all that Power BI has to offer, then your transition will be successful.

Natalia Brzezinska, PhotoAiD

Have a Firm Grasp On Your Data

One crucial thing needed to successfully transition from Excel to Power BI is a clear understanding of the data you are working with. In order to create effective and meaningful reports, you need to have a firm grasp of your data's dimensions and metrics.

Claire Westbrook, LSAT Prep Hero


Transitioning from Excel to Power BI sounds great in theory. It’s more visually appealing than Excel, collaborative, more powerful, and supposedly, easier to use. However, things always sound better on paper than they do in practice. The reality is that making the transition is difficult, exceptionally so if you are transitioning an entire team. People have been using Excel since the beginning of time (well at least the 1990s), and reconditioning your brain is exceedingly tough. Yes, I will admit that if you were starting fresh, Power BI actually isn’t that complicated or tough to learn. But making the switch with ingrained habits is. That is why perseverance is the most crucial thing needed to successfully transfer from Excel to Power BI. You’re going to want to give up and go back to Excel time and time again, but if you can stick with it, the power and visual appeal of power BI is well worth it.

Provide Time to Digest and Practice Power BI

It is important to think about how you disseminate the transition not to overwhelm users. Users should be given time to digest and practice what they have learned. From this, you can understand any gaps and identify further training priorities. To ensure everyone stays up to date with Power BI, establish a Power BI user channel or group and post regular updates on the project. Also, encourage all team members to subscribe to reports and dashboards to receive email alerts of their account or dashboard at their chosen frequency. All this preparation is essential for your teams to become comfortable using Power BI as a dynamic information source and analysis tool. Most importantly, in the process, ensure you take users’ old habits into account to make reluctant users more likely to get on board.

Ryan Yount, Luckluckgo

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1. Lack of awareness
2. Budgeting constraints
3. Status quo
4. Case study
5. Equilibrium
6. The remedy
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