What can accountants do with Power BI?

Welcome to our blog – a regular publication by Mantle, with a focus on business growth, business value, decision making and performance management, in other words, all things that make a business better.  Today’s edition is written by Laura Landmark. 

What can accountants do with Power BI?

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a user friendly business intelligence / dashboarding tool that makes it easy to visualise and share information.  Accountants can use Power BI to analyse data from one or more data sources to get a 360 degree view of business performance.

Once the data-models & dashboards are set up, everything can be instantly refreshed. This instant refresh is a big deal when accountants typically spend a lot of time manually preparing information, rather than undertaking the value added analysis.  It is literally life changing when you automate the management reporting process. I can say this from first hand experience, as I am an accountant, and have felt the pain of late nights and weekends spent deep down in manual reporting & forecasting!


Hidden Cost of manual work?

All this manual work has a hidden cost in companies who are not yet digital.  As accountants across the world busily toil away behind the scenes, pushing numbers around in excel in order to serve the rest of the business with up to date reports and forecasts, it appears all is well.

But trust me, I have been there, manually sowing together information from several sources, and rolling it forward to give an on going prognosis is a hugely time consuming task, fraught with the risk of error, its the stuff of nightmares, it costs!


Creating manual reports can be fun (once!)

The hidden financial cost is coupled with the frustration of having to maintain manual reports.

To be honest, it can actually be quite fun to set up report packs in excel as you get the feeling of building something and being a bit creative.  It can also be fun to run them once or twice, but when you get to the third or forth cycle and realise some of the logic or reporting requirements has changed and the excel multi sheet model starts to crack, it stops being fun and becomes a stresser and a time suck.


Ahhh, headache, a can of worms you almost wish you never opened.



Reliable numbers at period end

Power BI reads directly from the data source/s so you can be sure that the numbers are correct.  It is always wise to control check and reconcile, and if you notice anything that doesn’t make sense there are usually two scenarios:


  1. A transaction has been incorrectly booked in a source system (need to brush up procedures)
  2. There is something in the logic of the report that needs updating (need to polish the model)


Otherwise, period end becomes much simpler as all relevant data are pulled into reliable reports and refreshed at the click of a button.


Version control

The beauty is the typical human errors are avoided when you are helping yourself to information through Power BI reports.  Nothing is forgotten, deleted by mistake, formulas are not broken, there is no security risk by having to send manual reports around on email, and there is no confusion over version control, ie who on earth has the latest spreadsheet.

With Power BI everyone looks at the same version of the truth and can query the same data at the same time.


How to use Power BI

Most of the heavy lifting when it comes to designing reports can be done in Power BI desktop which you can download for free. Once built you can upload the reports to the cloud for sharing either into Power BI service (powerbi.com) or into our platform Uniifire.no

Uniifire has Power BI embedded and has been set up with a full infrastructure around it. That makes it very easy to connect to data sources, run jobs, manage users, manage data, roles, security, access & sharing.



When to use Excel?

Excel is great for ad hoc analysis, as you can do anything you want. It is much easier to mash data up in excel than it is in Power BI, but for your regular reporting Power BI is a professional, secure and elegant way of getting quickly to goal on a regular basis.  You know when reading a Power BI dashboard or report that the data has been cleansed, normalised, transformed and consistently applied to the underlying formulas.


How to get to the data and how can Mantle help?

Data can be connected to or imported and utilised in Power BI in many ways depending on the source and the objective.

It can be challenging and time consuming to set up and manage the data pipelines, particularly as the source systems (especially if they are cloud based) have regularly changing endpoints. In other words what works today might not work tomorrow!

It can be complicated to combine data sources and create all the relevant relationships and build a robust data model if you are not familiar with working with data.

This is where we come in at Mantle, working with slippery & invisible data is our lifeblood!  We have a range of prebuilt connectors (integrations) in our library, and are constantly adding more.

We also look at each case to decide on the most effective way of extracting, refining & loading data from all relevant systems. They can be financial, operational or open source to create a workable solution for our clients.  We bend and shape the data so that you can get instant access to business critical information without stressing about the backend stuff.

Data is the way forward

Data is getting bigger, more spread out and therefore more complex to harness, yet it helps us understand and improve our business so that we can reduce time, money and stress. Waste in business is a killer, it sucks on resources, reduces motivation and affects the bottom line.

Alternatively with a clear view, business decisions become more data driven and it is easier to assess the business position, performance and prospects in the short – medium & long term.  When users get to take a good look at the data it improves planning for the future and helps business leaders create the right business strategies.


The role of accountants

The role is to help businesses get their hands on the information they need. Whether that be by creating the data models and dashboards with/ for your clients, or analysing the data and helping them interpret the results. Accountants have a strong role to play in digital transformation to ensure the leaders you serve have the best chance of building a sturdy and sustainable business.


Need some advice?

Call us if you want a chat around opportunities in drawing value from data. We are here to support our clients (accountants or end users) with either access to data through prebuilt pipelines, or a whole white glove service where we help you manage everything from A to Z  all depending on what expertise you already have inhouse.  We are a team of developers / systems people with accounting & business backgrounds so can understand and advice on how to manage the data to the best effect.


Dashboard examples

Below you can see a few pictures from our standard dashboards generated with 24SevenOffice as the data source.  We also have prebuilt pipelines to PowerOffice Go, Tripletex, Visma.net, Xero, Hubspot, Tidsbanken and many other sources.










Sales influences











Contact us for more information on how this can look for you.