Part 7: Bringing DataOps to Power BI

  5 mins read  

DataOps Principle #3: Embrace Change

Change is constant… and the Power BI team at Microsoft has taken this idea and accelerated it. I’ve been working in the Power BI field for over 6 years and the pace of new features can be overwhelming. Now, I bet there are some cynics who would say the change/feature they want hasn’t come quick enough, but at the macro level the pace of change is tremendous.

DataOps Principle #3: We welcome evolving customer needs, and in fact, we embrace them to generate competitive advantage. We believe that the most efficient, effective, and agile method of communication with customers is face-to-face conversation.

In my experience, keeping up with the Power BI changes is key to meeting customer needs. When features like Paginated Reports and XMLA dropped into General Availability (GA), they became game changers. Had our team been too late in offering these features as a part of solutions, we would have missed the chance to deliver added value to our clients. But with the litany of changes every week in Power BI, and the work you still need to deliver, how do you keep up?

Here are some of my thoughts on managing the pace of change:

Best Practices

  1. Follow the release schedule pattern -- Power BI news is constant, but it also has a pattern. After 2 years of following this schedule, you can keep up with the news and still get work done:
    1. Every Thursday afternoon (roughly after 6 p.m. Eastern):
      1. Check the Power BI blog as the team will have announced most of the week's news by this time.
    2. Every Week:
      1. Catch up on monthly Power BI releases and expert opinions on the BiFocal Podcast. John White and Jason Himmelstein know what they're talking about and if they are excited about a new feature, pay attention!
      2. Check out Guy in a Cube YouTube videos. If you've been working in the Power BI space for more than 3 months, you should be following Adam Saxton and Patrick Leblanc.
      3. Also watch any new videos on Curbal's YouTube channel I have come to rely on Ruth Pozuelo Martinez's videos for great analyses on Power BI updates and DAX tutorials.
    3. Every Month: There is a wealth of great blogs in the community, and I've found these very helpful to check for updates:
      1. SQLBI -- I wish I was half as smart as Marco Russo and Alberto Ferrari. These gentlemen are geniuses, excellent teachers, and post great content.
      2. RADACAD -- Reza Rad and Dr. Leila Etaati provide insightful tips on Power BI and I found their modeling, visualizations, and DAX articles great reads. In fact, if I didn't read Dynamic Row Level Security with Profiles and Users in Power BI : Many-to-Many Relationship, I probably would still be having performance issues with Row-Level security.
      3. Excelerator BI -- Matt Allington seems to have a new article that addresses an issue or new feature I am investigating. His article on Affordable Power BI Premium for Small Business is my favorite and was updated recently.
      4. Chris Webb's Blog -- I probably reference Chris' blog articles on M more than any other blog and he provides such in-depth explanations.
    4. Every 3 months:
      1. Keep up with Microsoft's major events because they usually release big news during these events. If you can't watch the virtual event or attend in person (someday hopefully), they usually post a Book of News that will allow you to catch up.
      2. Check out the Microsoft Roadmap site and view the release plan. This will provide you a forecast of upcoming changes to Power BI (or at least the ones they are willing to share ahead of time).
      Side note: I am not implying that you shouldn't listen to any of these superb professionals on a more frequent basis, these are simply my own guidelines to balance between work, life, and the pace of change.
  2. Empower Others -- You don't need to know everything, don't try to be the hero. In fact, if you're on a team, empower others to follow parts of the schedule I outlined in the previous best practice. Have them report back to the team on findings and discuss ways to incorporate features in your team's schedule.
  3. Know when to use Preview versus General Availability -- If Microsoft says the feature is in preview, use that as the time for prototyping and experimentation. Only when it is in GA should you consider the feature production-ready.
  4. US Sovereign Cloud is Different -- The final best practice is for those working on the US Sovereign Cloud (GCC, DoD). Often the unstoppable force of Power BI updates will meet the slow-moving object of government. For some features, they are available in the government clouds as soon as they are GA in the Microsoft commercial cloud. For others, you may be waiting some time for government approval before it shows. To keep up to date on what is available and/or how to use a new feature in government be sure to check Microsoft's US Government Business Applications Demo Repository and Feature Availability sites. I'd also recommend subscribing to Steve Winward's YouTube Channel for specific tutorials on using Power BI and Power Platform capabilities in the US government clouds.

Let me know what you think about these best practices on LinkedIn or Twitter. For those who wanted more Azure DevOps and automation content, stayed turned for my next article. In that article I’ll discuss the automation of testing metrics for Power BI.