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Power BI Dashboards vs. Reports – Which One Should You Use?

What is the difference between a Power BI Dashboard and a report

When it comes to data analytics, the terms dashboard and report might seem interchangeable. However, the two are actually quite distinct from each other although there is a lot of overlap. Dashboards provide an overview or snapshot of data set of key performance indicators (KPI) while reports focus on providing detailed insights into particular findings or events. In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into key differences between what makes dashboards and reports unique and how they both can be employed in data analysis projects to achieve maximum impact.

What is a Dashboard and Report In power BI Desktop Power BI Service

A common mistake for new Power BI users is not knowing the difference between reports and dashboards. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, reports and dashboards have different functionality and serve different purposes. First and foremost, the content that you create within Power BI Desktop is an entire page, known as a report. Even if it has a “dashboard” feel or contains multiple pages or tabs, it's still a report page and simply known as a report. A dashboard, however, can't be created within Power BI Desktop. A dashboard is a collection of visuals from one or multiple reports that is assembled within the Power BI dashboard Service

Additional Info - The Power BI Service

Overview of Dashboards and Reports – Understand the purpose and features of each

Dashboards and reports are essential tools in the world of business analytics, serving as powerful instruments for decision-makers to visualize and comprehend complex data patterns. Dashboards offer a real-time snapshot of key performance indicators and other vital data through highly customizable visualizations, such as charts, graphs, and tables. This allows users to quickly assess the current state of the business or project, making it possible to identify trends, monitor progress, and respond to emerging situations. On the other hand, reports provide a more thorough, detailed, and typically historical view of business operations. They enable users to delve deeper into the data, revealing insights that may not be immediately apparent through a few dashboard window.

Data Visualization:

Power BI allows you to create visually stunning and interactive dashboards that help you quickly identify trends, patterns, and insights in your data. With over 100 pre-built visuals to choose from, you can create dashboards that are tailored to your specific needs.

Real-Time Insights:

Power BI dashboards can be connected to a variety of data sources, allowing you to get real-time insights into your business operations. This means you can make more informed decisions based on up-to-date information.

Self-Service Analytics:

Power BI allows business users to easily create and customize dashboards without relying on IT or data analysts. This means you can quickly create and iterate on dashboards to meet your changing needs.

Integration with other Microsoft products:

Power BI integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft products such as Excel, SharePoint, and Teams. This means you can easily share your dashboards with others, collaborate on data analysis, and embed dashboards into other applications.

Mobile Accessibility:

Power BI dashboards can be accessed from anywhere using a mobile device, making it easy to stay on top of your business operations on the go.


Power BI can handle large amounts of data and can scale to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes. This means you can start small and grow your data analysis capabilities as your business grows.

In summary, Power BI dashboards provide powerful data visualization and analysis capabilities, real-time insights, self-service analytics, seamless integration with other Microsoft products, mobile accessibility, and scalability. All of these advantages can help businesses make more informed decisions and stay ahead of the competition.

What is a paginated report?

A paginated report is a type of Power BI report that is designed for printing or generating PDF files. It is a type of operational report that is optimized for presenting data in a structured and paginated format, typically for printing or for delivering to users in a fixed format. A paginated report is typically designed for a specific audience and purpose, such as printing invoices, sales reports, or financial statements. Paginated reports are also often used for regulatory or compliance reporting pages data sources, as they provide a structured and consistent format for presenting data.

Advantages of Power BI Paginated Reports:


Power BI reports can be customized to fit the specific needs of your business, allowing you to create tailored reports for different departments or use cases.

Data integration:

Power BI reports can integrate data from a variety of sources, including Excel spreadsheets, cloud-based databases, and on-premise data sources, allowing you to create comprehensive reports that include all of your business data.

Data modeling:

Power BI reports include a data modeling feature that allows you to create relationships between different data sources and perform advanced calculations, making it easy to create complex reports.

Real-time updates:

Power BI reports can be configured to automatically refresh data on a regular basis, ensuring that your reports always include the latest data.

Sharing and collaboration:

Power BI reports can be easily shared with colleagues, allowing for easy collaboration and communication.

How are paginated reports different from dashboards?

Dashboards are designed to provide a high-level overview of key performance indicators (KPIs) for one or more reports or metrics in underlying report in a visually appealing and interactive way. They allow users to explore data and drill down into specific details. Dashboards are optimized for real-time data and typically include interactive visualizations such as charts, tables pages dashboards, and maps.

Paginated reports create summary pages, on the other hand, are designed for presenting data in a structured column chart report page, and paginated report page, format, typically for printing or for delivering to users in a single page, fixed format. They are optimized for static, printable output and typically include more detailed information than dashboards. Paginated reports are often used for operational or regulatory reporting, while dashboards are used for monitoring and analyzing data in real-time.

In summary, while both paginated reports and dashboards are types of Power BI reports, they serve different purposes and are designed for different audiences. Paginated reports have a single dataset of report pages and are optimized for structured, paginated output, while dashboards create reports with multiple report pages, and are optimized for real-time, interactive data exploration.

When To Use Power bi dashboards vs reports

The choice between using a Power BI dashboard or an existing visualization of a report depends on the specific needs of your organization and the purpose of the existing dashboard for visualization of the data presentation. Here are some general guidelines to consider:

Use a Power BI dashboard when:

  • You need to provide a high-level overview of key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics.

  • You want to track real-time data and provide up-to-date insights.

  • You need to present data in an interactive and visually appealing way.

  • You want to allow end-users to explore data and drill down into specific details.

  • You need to monitor a wide range of data from different sources.

Use a report when:

  • You need to provide detailed information on a specific topic or subject.

  • You want to present data in a structured and organized manner, such as tables and charts.

  • You need to provide a historical view of data and track trends over time.

  • You want to include additional information, such as commentary, analysis, or recommendations.

  • You need to provide a static, printable output.

In summary, a full Power BI solution or dashboard is best suited for presenting high-level, real-time data in an interactive and visually appealing way, while a report is best suited for providing detailed, structured, and historical data in a static, printable format. When deciding between a power bi dashboard capabilities, or a report, it's important to consider the specific needs of your organization and the purpose of the data presentation.

Uses of Dashboards - What makes a dashboard unique

A dashboard, often regarded as a crucial element in the realm of data visualization, possesses distinct characteristics that set it apart from other data representation tools. One such attribute of bi dashboard is its ability to present complex information through comprehensible visual representations, making it accessible to a wide range of users. Furthermore, an efficacious and well designed dashboard consolidates the most essential data points from across multiple dashboards, reports and various sources, enabling users to extract meaningful insights from existing dashboard and view report data at a glance.

Customizability is yet another aspect definition dashboard has, allowing users to tailor the existing dashboard up to their specific needs, thereby ensuring meticulous attention to vital metrics. In real-time scenarios, the dynamic nature of dashboards is their most invaluable feature, as data is updated continuously, empowering users to make informed, timely decisions. Overall, the unique combination of these characteristics transforms a dashboard into an indispensable tool that amplifies data-driven decision-making.

Uses of Dashboards - Explore how dashboards are used to monitor data

Dashboards have emerged as a vital tool in contemporary data management, offering a comprehensive platform for monitoring pertinent information across various domains. Serving as a graphical user interface, dashboards amalgamate diverse data sources, function as a centralized repository, and enable users to make more informed decisions by simplifying complex data into easily comprehensible visuals. As a consequence of their versatility, dashboards play an indispensable role in various sectors including business, governance, and finance. For instance, in a business setting, they aid in tracking key performance indicators, facilitating rapid insights, and providing real-time feedback for optimal decision-making processes.

In the realm of governance, dashboards offer a transparent medium for governments to share information, and important metrics such as public expenditure, with citizens, bolstering overall trust and accountability. In the financial sector, they facilitate the exchange of data science critical metrics, such cloud data such as trends, forecasts, and variances, which assist in performance management and risk analysis. Ultimately, through the employment of dashboards, organizations are empowered to make strategic choices by leveraging multiple datasets for a holistic understanding of multifaceted data.

Benefits of Reports for Decision-Making - Highlight why reports can be helpful when making decisions

The benefits of utilizing reports for decision-making cannot be overstated. Reports, when systematically and meticulously prepared, offer a structured and data-driven approach to assist organizations and individuals in making well-informed choices. By integrating in-depth analysis, report data, expert insights, and clear visuals, these documents serve as invaluable tools to practitioners and stakeholders alike.

Moreover, such comprehensive reports can uncover hidden trends, enabling decision-makers to anticipate potential risks and pinpoint opportunities with precision. Ultimately, the powerful capacity of reports to synthesize complex information into actionable knowledge underscores their pivotal role in enhancing the quality of strategic decisions, boosting organizational success, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

Comparing Dashboards and Reports - Compare the benefits and drawbacks of both tools

Dashboards and reports are both essential tools in the realm of data analysis, offering unique advantages and disadvantages. Dashboards, being interactive, offer real-time insights and allow users to manipulate data to discern trends and make informed decisions quickly. However, this interactivity may have an inherent drawback; as data gets updated, past information can potentially disappear, making it difficult to keep a historical record of actions. On the other hand, reports provide thorough and in-depth analysis of data, often combining a report of one or more summary pages, or single page with a variety of sources to yield valuable conclusions.

While reports are comprehensive, their static nature can be limiting as the raw data presented in sales report may become outdated quickly, rendering the report less relevant for decision-making. Although dashboards and reports seem to have contrasting benefits and drawbacks, a synergistic approach bi dashboard and that view related reports that leverages the strengths of both tools can be instrumental in optimizing data-driven decision-making processes for organizations.

To summarize, dashboards and reports feature distinctly different purposes in the context of data analysis. Dashboards focus on presenting relevant data points at-a-glance for easier recognition of patterns within a set of information, and the related reports are most often used to provide an ongoing visualization of the various data sets being monitored.

Reports are more suitable for gaining insight into a specific issue by providing additional detail and understanding over an extended timeframe. Knowing how to effectively leverage both tools is an essential element for any business's decision-making process, as both can play complementary roles for achieving desired results. With their advantages only the highlights and disadvantages of new dashboard and report view becoming increasingly clear cut, it’s important to understand that choosing one or the other will depend upon your organizational goals and needs. This demonstrates why it is so important to evaluate the disparate benefits of each option when assessing which platform should have one or more datasets to be utilized in order to implement data-driven decisions at your organization.

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