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New Feature: Roundtable

Welcome to an experimental new feature here at PowerPivotPro, where members of the team discuss various topics related to Power BI, Power Pivot, and Analytics/BI in general.  These conversations take place during the week on our Slack channel, and are then lightly edited for publishing on Friday.

This Week’s Topic: Better IT/Biz Relations, Data Access, and “Selling” Power BI / Power Pivot Internally

ROB: OK Austin and Kellan, we’ve been dying to do this for awhile. In your all-too-recent previous lives, you found yourselves championing Power Pivot and Power BI within your (former) companies, and found that the orgs around you were slow/resistant to changing gears. This “insider’s view” of cultural pressures and obstacles is a relevant topic these days for MANY readers, so kick us off.

AUSTIN: I formerly sat in the business user seat as an Excel pro, where I discovered the brave new world of Power Pivot and Power BI. Despite the obvious (to me) power of the next-gen tools, it was difficult to get others on the same page. Both IT and Biz management were reluctant to change gears. I’ve subsequently wound up here on the PowerPivotPro team where I don’t face those politics directly, but our clients do, and I’m sure there are many others out there facing the exact same challenge.

KELLAN: Yeah, Austin and I shared a common experience from our former cubicle-bound existence. Tell me if this sounds familiar … We both started in the business as analysts, as “just Excel people,” then we discovered Power Pivot and gained super powers. Pretty soon we weren’t just Excel people anymore – other analysts looked at our work with reverence and awe. And with our new abilities we had taken a big step toward the IT people, but we definitely weren’t IT people. We were in this uncomfortable “twilight zone” halfway between biz and IT.

AUSTIN: We had wandered off the organizational map – we weren’t this and we weren’t that. It made us powerful, and we could see both sides (IT/Biz) clearly for the first time, but at the same time we were now outcasts, and our organizations couldn’t figure out what to do with us.

ROB: I can certainly believe that, even though I’ve never personally lived there myself. It’s particularly easy to see how IT wasn’t stoked about this “rising force” in the Biz, but I’m getting the sense that you also felt unwelcome on the Biz side? That’s harder for me to understand – shouldn’t Biz mgmt have been coveting you rather than rejecting you?

AUSTIN: Well they (Biz mgmt) weren’t rejecting us, we sort of rejected our limited roles.

KELLAN: It was weird actually. Biz management didn’t have any understanding of the value of what I was doing, and started to think I was just… “technical.” When really I was just a new breed of analyst, but they couldn’t see it clearly yet.

AUSTIN: …and Biz managers were back channeling with IT, and IT was saying that we didn’t know what we’re talking about.

ROB: Ugh. So… Biz not appreciating the magnitude of the new capabilities (and not appreciating YOU properly, I’m sure), and IT actively resisting.

AUSTIN: Continuing on that front, it was hard to understand why the IT team was so reluctant to give me the data my boss was asking for. I felt very stuck in the middle.

ROB: Here are the traditional reasons why IT keeps data “locked away,” in my experience – let’s see if this matches your view from the inside:

  1. Performance concerns – direct query against operational systems can bring things to their knees
  2. Accidental misuse – “you don’t understand how the data is stored, so you are likely to make mistakes and I don’t have time to walk you through it.”
  3. Security concerns – the system isn’t set up with granular permissions, so you will see things you shouldn’t.
  4. Just general fear and desire to control things.

I think we can all agree that there definitely IS something legitimate to 1-3. And yet, psychologically, the Biz usually ends up thinking #4 is the biggest reason. I think that happens because the Biz (rightly) perceives that IT doesn’t factor the *benefits* of data access into the equation, only the downsides.

AUSTIN: Yeah, as a business user it’s hard to fully appreciate how the IT department’s thinking about this.  I remember feeling that people were saying no just because they could (#4) – I wish someone from IT had been willing to explain their full reasoning. I would have understood reasons 1-3, but they probably aren’t used to the business “getting” stuff like that.

And hey, shouldn’t a Power BI “new breed” Power Analyst get taken a bit more seriously than a traditional Excel analyst?

KELLAN: Don’t we like data warehouses? All the data in one place, data’s getting refreshed and cleaned on a regular schedule, the business can just kick back and consume the data. When I was in the business, I always went to the data warehouse first, then I filled gaps from other data sources as needed. I certainly acknowledged the value and cleanliness of the EDW and wished I could have used it more. The problem, generally speaking, was any incremental change required an unjustifiable amount of time to implement. It’s my data and I want it now!

ROB: Yeah we love a good data warehouse BUT they’ve historically been so expensive, time consuming to build, and to your point Kellan, slow to update. Plumbing is just expensive and therefore very hard to justify to management – “hey we want to go spend 5-7 figures on a plumbing project, but take our word for it – THERE WILL BE FAUCETS SOMEDAY.” Good luck with that pitch.

And now’s the time to invert the equation – biz needs a faucet, the faucet has real business value, and the faucet can be built with a minimum of plumbing. Everyone wins, the business gets the information they need and the IT teams as long as they’re willing to accept that an incrementally-built data mart is a win (as opposed to the full-blown warehouse of their dreams).

ROB: Changing gears, let me suggest a few things that we have going in our favor with the new tools:

  1. The new tools (Power BI, Power Pivot) do NOT require all data to be in a single place, unlike previous BI tools.
  2. They allow us to build data marts in “reactive fashion – since we can iterate in near-real-time in Power Pivot and Power BI, that quickly tells us what we’re missing in the DW/DM. And usually, the thing that’s “missing” is really just a quick change – that can be added as a view in a few minutes.
  3. So rather than start from scratch and try to plan and build a “be all, end all” data warehouse, we can create a copy of the operational data source, start using it as a data source, and iterating from there. It’s shocking how much faster and cheaper that is, and yet… it works.
  4. Biz and IT want the same thing, and for the first time it’s within reach, but they need to learn to speak a common language.


It’s this common language that’s been missing and it’s not really anyone’s fault – because the older tools (traditional BI, traditional Excel) have been holding us all hostage.

AUSTIN: It’s hard to see it all the time but if both sides were willing to adjust their philosophies and tool sets *just a touch*, they could meet in the middle and get all those human things we want. Not to mention, major WINS for the biz – ROI, profits, savings, you name it.

ROB: One specific thing that we both (IT and the Power BI analysts) want, in terms of tech, is to have reliable data sources: trusted, supported, and blessed – at least for the central biz data – that we can access.

Once you give the “power tools” to the biz, suddenly their manual effort drops dramatically, and the time they spend cobbling together data (via end runs around IT in some cases) becomes a crushing percentage of the drudge work left over – whereas before, it was only a sliver. The net result is that biz is, for the first time ever, incented to the table to ask for “good” data sources. This is IT’s chance to control things like they’ve always wanted, BUT… they have to bend just a bit. Don’t aim for perfect DW’s. Just copy the operational set and go from there. Sounds like heresy in some quarters.

Oh, and we also both want “one version of the truth” publishing and sharing of the final models and dashboards.

Sorry guys, I’m hogging the “mic.” This stuff just gets me so amped up.

AUSTIN: It may continue sounding like heresy but we’re in a good place, a good time to begin changing things. Rob, your post this week is about manners and treating people with respect, despite differences of opinion, and that’s a good start. It’s fun to have a good enemy in the IT department and we’ve tapped into that feeling – but we also have to help people see the other side of it.

We know Excel & Power Pivot because on the business side we got backed into a corner, were asked to do more with less, and found a free tool already installed on our computer. The IT teams of the world never have sufficient budget to execute on all the needs thrown at them. Excel people go one step further and have “zero” budgets. So… “do more with less” is a unifying constraint in this case.

KELLAN: Yeah lack of budget is ok. Lack of budget turned me into a super mutant.

AUSTIN: Ha, me too. If we had gotten a well-funded, well-staffed data warehouse we’d still be in our former jobs.

KELLAN: I remember reading a post by Matt Allington, a couple years back while I was right in the middle of this at work. The post talked about this big opportunity in relation to this person and the value they have in every company, regardless of size.

This person is completely unique and has no suitable role in modern org’s. It’s very difficult to write this person’s job description because it ultimately squirts back and forth between the BI Director and the Director of “Business Unit” as to where this job should belong. It doesn’t matter where it belongs. It does matter that it exists and that the organization embraces it openly. Any data driven org should rely on these people way more than they do today.

Speaking of Matt…

MATT: Oh hey did someone mention my name? Let me jump in here. I spent 15 years in the business struggling to understand IT, and 10 years in IT where I learnt to understand them better. These two groups definitely don’t speak the same language. Business doesn’t know what it needs, or how to ask IT for it. IT knows what can be done but doesn’t know how to explain it to the business in a way they will understand. And yes, WE (the new breed, the Power BI hybrids) are successful because we cover precisely that in-between zone, and we can do it all, despite the shortcoming of the two traditional factions.

To sell to IT, you need to explain why they will get less beaten up, have more time to put out different fires, and get less complaints from the business. To sell to the business, you just tell them they can have it quickly and it can morph and change as they learn, and as the business changes.

ROB: Nice, yes this brings me to a short list of The Benefits to IT When You Play Nice With the Power BI Slash Power Pivot Mutation:

  1. You (IT) won’t have to be the bottleneck for every single report request from now on.
  2. You’re much more likely to get budget and support for your DW dreams, with the slight twist that they will be built incrementally/reactively
  3. You will finally have insight into what’s happening out there in Excel land – all of those skunkworks spreadsheets that you don’t see (but are somehow responsible for when they break), will now be visible.
  4. You can absolutely control Biz access to data, because they NEED the clean refreshable source (cuz manual effort now sucks 10x more than it used to, proportionally)
  5. The biz apps will no longer be written in a language that refuses to scale/translate to “real” servers. It’s written in SSAS, you can take it over whenever you want.
  6. You will get to manage data sources and infrastructure, as well as the most-critical enterprise reports and models, while shedding many other relatively noisy/thankless jobs.
  7. You will get to be a part of WINS. Big wins. And the Biz will be implicitly (and explicitly) acknowledging that fact – to you, to each other, and to execs – all the time, because it all runs on your infra.

We’ve had great success having specifically that chat with IT, because if you treat them as the overworked and underappreciated human beings that they are (just like the business analysts!), as opposed to as an obstacle, well… most people respond well to that. The biggest challenge is getting to the point where we can actually HAVE that chat.


Did you like this?  Find it valuable?  Have anything you’d like to suggest for a future week?  Or hate this and hope we never do it again?  Let us know in comments ok?  We’re here to please!

Rob Collie

One of the original engineering leaders behind Power BI and Power Pivot during his 14-year career at Microsoft, Rob Collie founded a consulting company in 2013 that is 100% devoted to “the new way forward” made possible by Power BI and its related technologies. Since 2013, PowerPivotPro has rapidly grown to become the leading firm in the industry, pioneering an agile, results-first methodology never before seen in the Business Intelligence space. A sought-after public speaker and author of the #1-selling Power BI book, Rob and his team would like to help you revolutionize your business and your career.

This Post Has 46 Comments
  1. Fantastic post and I can relate to a lot of the sentiments here big time. I’m promoting the term ‘Modern Excel’ and inserting into everyday conversation as much as I possibly can to distinguish the old world from the new (PMSL @ “all of those skunkworks spreadsheets”)
    Breaking down the perception of “It’s just Excel” or you are just a “Spreadsheet Jockey” or ‘it shouldn’t be done in Excel, there are a better solutions’ are the biggest entrenched and ill-founded viewpoints to overcome
    From my experience tangible deliverables that make people stand up and say “Bloody hell, how did you do that?” are the most effective way to get your argument across, There is so much bullshit spouted around technology and IT generally that people are naturally suspicious and fed up of people talking the talk and not walking the walk

  2. I wanted to add my last comment that missed the go live cut off for this blog by 3 minutes. (Rob, why were you still awake posting blogs at 2:30am?!)

    I will stick my neck out here and share my true beliefs. If the business has good (ideally documented) processes that they follow, then they are likely to have a great working relationship with IT (and also have good quality data). If the business is not good at process and doesn’t have (ideally well documented and) well executed processes, then they will likely have a bad working relationship with IT. I think there is a correlation between business understanding of the importance of process and data management, with the success of their partnership with IT. Does anyone else agree?

    1. Totally agree as well. It’s a matter of management.

      And change management: as Rob said “..Oh, and we also both want “one version of the truth” publishing and sharing of the final models and dashboards…” – you need to have the answer and the concept ready for this and provide good project management during the way.

      Don’t miss out this whitepaper: giving excellent guidance on how to develop your new/agile PowerX-strategy.

    2. Matt, can you give examples of the processes you mean? What does it look like for the biz to have a good understanding vs. a poor one? Just looking for some detail before I form an opinion on whether I agree 🙂

      1. I know a company that has built a BI data warehouse and new finance reporting tool (think “years” and “million$”). At the heart of any finance reporting is the Chart of Accounts (COA) – everything else depends on this. But the business hasn’t looked after the COA and I doubt it understands why it is important or how to manage it. The financial metrics that are valued and used by the business do not naturally roll up in the COA like they should. New accounts are added regularly but not in a structured, data/process driven way. So meaningful business metrics end up being calculated sort of like “sub total XXX” minus some random baseline item Y plus 2 other base line items in other parts of the COA hierarchy. Then the business wants IT to go faster and deliver more value, but it spends all its time trying to build business metrics off a poorly owned, managed and maintained COA. I think in such a scenario, the business will naturally think poorly of IT, and IT will naturally think poorly of the business.

        If business doesn’t understand its own responsibilities for process and data, and instead expects IT to “just fix it” in the data management and reporting layer, there will always be a sub standard outcome (in my view).

        1. IT wants the business to do a better job of maintaining their data quality? Give ’em BI tools.

          Where we’ve put flexible querying in the hands of business users – at all levels, not just biz mgmt – and given them a way to report or correct errors, data quality improves significantly. Especially with hierarchies (like Matt’s chart of accounts example above). They understand hierarchies better when they are slicing & filtering on a daily basis in different ways, not just looking at “Report A” every Monday.

          With unlimited bucketing/slicing the outliers pop right out. Business begins to see why a bad hierarchy gives them pain. I LOVE having more eyes on the data because problems get reported immediately…and the business is more engaged with the data model. We fix problems BEFORE the Monday morning review of “Report A” with mgmt. Departments that have not adopted the “daily queries for all” tools show it in the stale, sloppy quality of their data.

    3. Yes, yes I do agree.
      With well documented processes there is also a clear definition of terms which contributes to a clear understanding of what is supposed to happen whether it is IT or Biz people looking at an issue.
      With poor documentation it becomes far to easy for confusion to reign and the opinion that neither side understands what is happening.
      Does a process contribute to the business or has a misunderstanding created busy work with no real benefit?
      M.Allington’s point here doesn’t even scratch the Excel/PowerPivot difference in understanding that I see between IT and Biz.
      For myself, I see IT discounting the importance and capabilities of Excel and it highly frustrates me. Much of my interaction with IT suggest that IT is more NT (network technology) than anything else. Information is analyzed by accountants and business people in software technology often in the relatively common software known as Excel.

        1. Me too! Traditional IT is more focused on NT/Hardware although Cloud offerings will probably change IT departments in the coming years to make them more Business Software friendly.

  3. Great post!
    Being in the “…twilight zone halfway between biz and IT” is very much my experience. I pretty much identify with Blade and consider myself to be a Daywalker. A lot of clever diplomacy needs to be done in the process. The more both sides understand, the more I have the feeling they like the “Power”.
    I will include your “short list of The Benefits to IT” into my toolbox.
    Already looking forward to your next Roundtable.
    Have a nice week-end.

  4. Great idea with this round-table guys!

    I recognized myself when reading about the “twilight zone” but I’m still there, trying to “preach” the Power BI suit benefits both to IT and BIZ managers.
    Depending on the the result I see in the next year or so (time for me to master it too 🙂 ) I will decide whether keep trying here … or somewhere else (my own consulting company).

    Keep up the good work with the blog Rob (and Matt, Avi and the rest of the team) and THANKS for sharing with us so many things from where we are able to learn.

  5. Hi, here is a suggestion. Find something the IT and/or business department can’t figure out (generally something in Accounting), create the solution in Power Pivot and when they ask how, tell them its easy in Power Pivot. Worked for me.

    1. I 100% agree with this approach. I say the same thing to people who ask me how to get it started in their company. My advice is always it is better to “beg for forgiveness than ask for permission”. Just do it and start dazzling people. Sooner or later someone is going to say “how did you do that?”.

      1. Matt, it actually goes one step further because you have already created the data model and done the Power Query stuff (which I must thank you again for from a previous post on your board) you can then add the- and by the way stuff with the interactive visualizations (or whatever they are called now) in PBI which gives the finance/business people something to be excited about and always compliment the IT people in providing the data, they are a lonely unloved bunch who just need a hug every now and then. They will start asking you to do things for them.

  6. This was a great post and I could so relate when I work “in House” and now as a consultant. Since I can guide my clients(and many are moving to xl2016 now) it’s easier to introduce using PP and PQ to solve issues and generate greate reports. Getting my other fellow consultants to understand the value of these Modern Tools is a bit more work. They don’t get it. But that leaves me with more work!
    One suggestion would be to video record, if possible. These are valuable discussions.

  7. I cannot believe I’m reading this…
    But its true…
    I have just experienced the same issues and misgivings as some of your commenters on this forum.
    I just spent a two hour meeting with a group that I have been working with on a project to manage investments in a boutique portfolio management group of a large financial corporation. The group manages a $50 million dollar portfolio for some 250 clients – the hard way – using Excel to manage and crank the data. They have access to a data server that houses the accounting data, but therein lies the rub – making sure the local system matches the online accounts through all the daily trades.
    My mandate was to build s system to allow them to manage the process – removing them from the drudge of ensuring data integrity across the accounts and local / remote validation.
    I started out crafting this in pure VBA under Excel – until I came across Power Query. It was a ground-breaking discovery for me and one that I constantly saw validated in the industry elsewhere in the past few months.
    What a super feature and so easy to craft focussed solutions.
    Fast forward to now and the discovery that the Power Query is not available to remote users remoting in to the production desktop at the office. Something about permissions possibly masking its use or maybe some sort of firewalling issue with remote use.
    Everything worked fine locally but not remotely. So sad…
    Calls to IT confirmed that although PQ is used in some parts of the organization, it is not generally adopted, and there are no immediate plans to change that. In fact there is rumour of going to a client-server paradigm in the near future. My client mooted the thought of reverting to a VBA solution – I perish the thought of that. On review I am not sure I can emulate the data processing power of PQ without some great effort. Not a happy camper…
    So, caught between a rock and a hard place – really, really sad, but what can you do if the powers that be frown on progress.
    I will continue to develop in PQ as I believe in it wholeheartedly – wish I had this in my back pocket some 15-20 years ago when i had to massage data for my parent company.

    1. Fran, I’m struggling to get my head round your remote problem but feel your pain. Can you elaborate a bit more? I’m trying to get the relevant folks onto 2016 as quickly as I can because then power query is embedded rather than being an addin and you can then say ‘so what you are telling me exactly is that there is an area of functionality in Excel you don’t want me to use?!’

      1. Hey Matt;
        It has to do with 2010 and maybe 2013, not embedded 2016 – the PQ add-in is not offered to the remote user when they open up a remote host instance of Excel 2010. I have not had a chance to pursue the issue on the clients system. My solution works fine on their production desktop but as I say, if they remote in to their desktop, the PQ feature which is available on the desktop is missing and unavailable for load. The client company is only now being considered for upgrade to Office 2013. Office 2016 is nowhere on their event horizon. I keep coming back to the thought that there may be a firewalling or permissions issue but I cannot dig around on their organizational setup to trace this.

        1. Fran: so the issue isn’t that PQ doesn’t work or doesn’t connect to the data source. IT just won’t install the Power Query addin on the remote host? I use PQ in remote Excel 2010 on a virtual machine and it works beautifully so that shouldn’t be a technical problem. Admin just needs to get it done. Pointing out that PQ is now a built-in feature of Excel 2016 may allay fears that its is some hinky, spooky security threat. Write up a cost estimate of recreating Power Query functionality in VBA ($$$$) and compare to having admin simply install a free add-in from Microsoft ($) and maybe that’ll put a fire under them.

          1. “allay fears that its is some hinky, spooky security threat”

            Amen to that, lol

            I’ve uttered the following on many an occasion: “this is not left field technology, it’s Microsoft!!!!”

          2. Dory – its not a technical problem – it may be a corporate firewall thing – preventing unapproved add-ins from installing on opening a remote instance of Excel. One can see the add-ins loading once Excel 2010 is opened but PQ is not in the list of add-ins loading – nor is it in the Add-Ins Options Table. I am wary of even considering digging deeper into a possible firewall situation.
            Corporate is planning on upgrading to Excel 2013 soon. This will suffer the same problem as PQ is not embedded as it is in 2016. I think I can get away with having the client reference and process the data locally using files refreshed from the server. All is good whilst processing on the production desktop.

  8. Wow, this so perfectly describes the situation so many of us fall in. I demonstrate our powerpivot tools which ties in a near real time copy of of entire ERP database to VP’s and even our CIO and they are amazed at what we can do in seconds.
    Ask if we can do this on a global scale and the answer is always… Oh Mike the organization isnt as advanced as this and doesn’t need real time data.

    So here’s my question. If I want to avoid building a crappy data warehouse with a big single instance global ERP(let’s say sap or oracle) can I create a mirror of that data that is kept nearly real time purely for self service bi needs?

    And… would you copy the entire database (which we did with our local effort) or start small and only take tables we know to be important.

    Tell me if I’m just talking crazy.
    Great post!

    1. I have built a mirror of data for a client – not real time but it proves that building your own copy of the date is possible. 2 years ago I didn’t know any SQL, now I am not bad for an Excel dude. You can get a free copy of SQL Server Express and install it on your laptop. As long as you can stay under 10GB in the warehouse, you are all good.

      Definitely only bring what you need.

      Oh, and the client still pays me each week to maintain the parallel data warehouse because IT won’t let me point the 55 Power Pivot reports I have built to the ‘actual’ data warehouse – go figure!

      1. Matt;
        You might be showing me a glimmer of hope on the horizon. My client does not need a remote access true real-time solution (It would be nice though), however if I could build in access to the corporate data across their firewall I might be able to have them run a local instance of Excel and take their data feed from the organization. Thank you !

  9. This great conversation! Given that it is a conversation, wouldn’t it be better to record this and post it to YouTube?

  10. You have no idea how much I appreciate the Twilight Zone anecdote. To quote Liam Nielsens character from Taken:

    … But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you….

    I used to wish I was a CPA, so easy to explain. Not any more, I’m putting my skillset to use and have formed an LLC… Mainly because people have seen what I can do in Excel and want it for their organization. People are getting it now. In a very short period, it’s gone from trying to explain what you do, to people seeking you out.

    1. … But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you….

      That’s just put a massive smile on my face, pure quality !!!

  11. Fantastic! It’s like if my story was told in this debate.
    I work at the controllership department of an company in Brazil and passed by the same issues brought into discussion.
    The obstacles imposed by our IT department were almost impossible to workaround. But we did it!
    In resume, we’ve had to generate reports from our ERP (in Excel), import them to a free SQL Express instance installed in my local machine e from that build our own “DW”… (very time consuming effort!)
    Then, we’ve built several reports using Power Pivot and shared with others departments and, finally, with the board of directors itself.
    The success was almost instantaneous!
    “How did you do that? It’s amazing! Is it really Excel?”
    Well, since then things started to get better… The IT department didn’t have other choice but to migrate our DB to the official server and give all the permissions we needed to continue our work. (our DB is now perceived as *views* originated from the official DW – no problem there! – but we still use other sources to complete our data)
    By that time, I’ve already passed along my knowlegde to the rest of the team and now we all work hand-in-hand with the IT team (they finally understood what we were doing!).
    In fact, our relationship with IT has improved a lot. They respect our opinions and spend the time needed to explain to us why they do things their way. Consequently, we understand and respect them a lot more now too!
    I think the great reason why we couldn’t do that earlier was the lack of dialogue and understanding from each part (Biz/IT).

    Well… Next step – Power BI!

    Great post! And thanks for everything!

  12. I imagine all of us on the list have been or are in this position, it is why we are here. I appreciate these sorts of posts as much as the more technical ones, keeps things in perspective for me. My current situation is like the above, trying to get my rather large organization to be ok with me using and developing in PQ and PP. All the while wondering if I should make an exit plan. Maybe, if I may, some posts or a way to have discussion around how to do this? Making the break, getting clients…

  13. At the company I worked at before I retired, corporate protocol was everything. Any Excel/Power… had to be done under the radar, since it was not a sanctioned IT process. Therefore, propagation of the Excel/Power… process had no official pipeline to follow.

    1. ‘Sanctioned IT Process’ – yes, the normal speed humps to slow you down (great analogy Matt). If we are to call a spade a spade here you’d have to say there are many in IT who sneer at and dislike Excel and want it gone, which is never going to happen. They aren’t interested in what ‘Modern Excel’ means, it’s still just Excel

      Yet, they will promise some grand solution which will mean ‘you can get rid of those horrible spreadsheets’ Yes, i overheard someone saying that. When you challenge them to explain what this solution is they bog you down with the need to spec out your requirements and start the whole IT project circus and ‘open up a tab’ at the bar

      It’s mainly down to some experience where they’ve been burnt by a VBA maverick who didn’t know how to stop an infinite loop OR some idealistic crap that ‘proper’ programming should be done in C++

      I think getting support of the business by giving them tangible deliverables quickly and then asking them to remind IT who the customer is has to be the only way out of this

      1. “You can’t fight city hall” must be a mantra for all ankle-biting Excel power users. Hard part is designing a strategy to end-run around the problem and pose it to the higher ups high enough up to say to IT “make it so”.
        At the ground level I must solve my clients needs the best way possible. The thought of re-inventing my PQ programming in VBA to evade “firewalling type issues” makes no sense.

        1. “Shut me down”
          I burst out laughing reading that, reminds me of a line from a film but for the life of me I can’t remember which one: “we’re gonna shut you down” LOL

          1. I remembered the film: Ghostbusters!

            Ray: Everything was fine until the grid was shut down by dickless here.
            Walter Peck: They caused an explosion!
            Mayor: Is this true?
            Peter: Yes sir, it’s true. This man has no dick.

      2. Best strategy i can think of ATM is to wait for IT to sanction PQ in remote Excel sessions. I’m too far down the PQ development to backpedal and re-implement in VBA. I would like to solve the issue of PQ not being loaded in remote session but I don’t want to bring down the ire of the corporate IT department. Prob. best to wait for Excel 2106 to be the corporate standard.

  14. Rob, Austin, Kellan and Matt: Thank you for the post. This conversation matches the last 5-7 years of life with my analyst group that supports a large healthcare delivery system. We are housed in Finance but work with IT on a daily basis. At this point in time I think our data squad and our IT Data Warehouse partners both respect each other and have an improved understanding of both our missions. However, real and significant change will only happen if c-level leadership is willing to organize and reorganize all our great skill sets to leverage our superpowers. As an example, there are SQL Data Detectives now on both the Biz side and IT side…..what if these folks were all part of the same team and connected their knowledge bases? Also, data governance will only truly happen if leadership requires IT and BIZ to work together on prioritizing data content development and data quality. We just fire fight these items on a project by project basis.

    Great discussion and food for thought. Keep up these Roundtables Citizens!

    -Joe Kardos

    1. “However, real and significant change will only happen if c-level leadership is willing to organize and reorganize all our great skill sets to leverage our superpowers.” IMO, this is a role that Microsoft marketing has to play, although few people believe me. It is their job to suggest to companies using Microsoft technologies the most efficient and productive ways to use their tools. And, Power BI skills require free access to data, unencumbered by layers of corporate bureaucracy. If they would make this part of their marketing presentation, perhaps this external influence would help facilitate positive change.

      1. Couldn’t agree more. They’ve been late to the party but are finally getting their act together. They really need to explain and promote the concept of ‘managed self-service BI’ so the penny drops

  15. Awesome post. I like when Google takes me here to PPP for complicated DAX questions, but what keeps PPP in my RSS feed and what I believe ultimately distinguishes PPP from every other Power BI information source out there is this kind of post.

    Same thing with the introduction to Rob’s first DAX book. It’s real, it’s personal, it’s exciting, it’s motivating, and it acknowledges / helps to fill the gap between Biz and IT that exists in nearly EVERY organization.

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