Port of Antwerp coaches employees on improved data use with Microsoft Power BI

Port of Antwerp coaches employees on improved data use with Microsoft Power BI

To further stimulate the development of data awareness among the employees of the Port of Antwerp, we built a virtual cockpit that charts the use of Power BI within the organization.

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This allows the company to make recommendations on how the reports and resulting insights can be even better aligned with their objectives. In this way the Port Authority is vigorously building the culture that is necessary in a data-driven organization.

 

Everyone is a data analyst at the Port of Antwerp

The Port of Antwerp believes it is important that every employee, in the most literal sense, truly understands the importance of data. Everyone should be able to work with data in their daily job, for example using reports from Microsoft Power BI. To support this vision, the company devotes considerable attention to data quality and data governance. After all, data quality is an important precondition for good data analysis. With their focus on data governance, they also proactively manage their data to help the organisation achieve its objectives and strategies. This is not an end in itself, but instead a tool to extract as much value as possible from data.

"With the Data & Analytics team, we are supporting the rest of the organization in delivering action-oriented insights.  Self-service for us does not mean just putting things out there and that's it.  For example, we offer training, tools and processes to achieve high-quality dashboards.  Not only at the start but also afterwards and in continuous consultation, with the aim of growing together into an even more data-driven organization.  And, of course, we base this consultation on the underlying data available on the dashboards."

Danny Van Dessel, Data & Analytics Manager Port of Antwerp

 

Managing Self-Service BI in Power BI

Microsoft Power BI is the Port of Antwerp's strategic tool for important business reporting needs. Together, we built a virtual cockpit in the form of a Power BI report to chart the use of this tool. Not with the aim of pointing fingers, but to further coach the users and ensure that the created reports are in line with what the company wants to achieve. The Self-Service aspect is retained but in a more controlled manner.

The guidelines on how to use the tool had to be established before we could set up something like this. We started with the question "How should Power BI ideally be used at the Port of Antwerp" and answered this for and with various stakeholders (e.g. someone in a technical position, someone responsible for data governance, an architect, etc.). This way we directly brought all the visions together, which was an important aspect for generating enough support.

The result is a meta Power BI report that provides information on Power BI use in the organization, supplemented by key information on all artifacts. This report consolidates different sources of APIs, scripts and databases into 1 convenient overview. The Port Authority's Data Analytics team holds bi-weekly meetings with stakeholders from a functional domain to discuss ongoing issues, including the report with the underlying use data. They analyze how users create reports and datasets and how well they conform to the applicable guidelines. From this analysis, they formulate recommendations for the users. For example, this could be about the data source that was used, since the company has centralized data sources that are optimally formatted for self-service. Does the data in the report come from this trusted environment, or was data from an obscure test environment used? The cockpit tells them.

 

A successful experiment

The virtual cockpit was launched as an experiment. The results are positive and have fueled our desire to think about the next steps. One of the next paths is to make the picture more complete. It is also the intention that people who will be creating content in Power BI should be exposed to the established guidelines from the outset so that the meta-report primarily serves for follow-up.

By using the Microsoft Power Platform, we managed to quickly evolve from the idea to a working tool. In 10 days' time, we held discussions about guidelines and set up the report, and they started working with it. So starting small clearly has its advantages, and scaling up is always an option.

"Data on the use of Power BI is crucial to measure success in the organization. With this cockpit, we have taken it a step further than the static logging method commonly used. We are very pleased with the result in the short term. The underlying motive of 'stimulate, not control' is therefore absolutely spot on for me."

Benni De Jagere, Enterprise Data Architect Inetum-Realdolmen

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