Practical Power BI Dashboard Design In 60 Seconds

Practical Power BI Dashboard Design In 60 Seconds

As one of the premier data visualization tools for the enterprise, Microsoft Power BI can become an indispensable tool. However, to make the most of Power BI, you must first consider your audience. Here are a few tips to help you build the best dashboard for your business.

  • Power BI is a dashboard tool to monitor the current state of your data using the included reports. Make sure to avoid unnecessary information – your users may experience information-overload.
  • Dashboards are intended to be used at a glance, your tiles need to be properly organized using the full-screen mode.
  • Try resizing your tiles to prioritize key metrics – larger tiles are naturally seen as more important.
  • Place the most important metric in the top left corner as it will be where viewers will start using the dashboard.

If you need a bit more help designing your dashboard, here are a few books:

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their data visualization problems.  Everything from designing data warehouses to implementing Power BI initiatives for the enterprise, we bring world-class consultants to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.

Microsoft 365: Bringing Intelligent Security To Business

Microsoft 365: Bringing Intelligent Security To Business

We are living at an Inflection Point.

Digital transformation is the biggest change any of us has seen in our lifetime. Companies invest in technology to optimize operations, transform products, engage customers, and empower employees. The challenge is to find a finding the way to empower people to do their best work. This starts with fostering a culture of work that engages your team, and embraces the trends in the workplace that make work inspiring.

To deliver on the tremendous opportunity for business growth and innovation, Microsoft is simplifying the customer experience by bringing together Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security with the introduction of Microsoft M365.

It’s a complete, intelligent solution that empowers everyone to be creative and work together, securely.

With the ability to leverage the constantly evolving Office 365 suite, with over 1 terabyte of storage via OneDrive, firms  will now have access to enhanced security capabilities including:

  • Both On-Premise and Cloud Threat Detection
  • Multi-Factor Authentication
  • Document Encryption and Segregation (Device Level)
  • Save-As, Copy, and Paste Restrictions
  • Device and App-Level Data Wipe
  • Single Sign-On

Interested to learn more? Contact us today to find out how Microsoft 365 can help your business!

About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.

Resistance Is Futile

Agile development methodologies are well into the Gartner “Scope of Enlightenment” stage, yet are still misunderstood by stakeholders and teams that don’t yet realize the tremendous value that it can bring to an organization.  Historically, there have been distrusting and adversarial relationships between business teams and technology teams. However, these melt away when they collaboratively set goals, both identify and track tasks, and report on progress.  The transparency of standups and burndown charts creates an understanding and empathy that changes the entire team dynamic.  User Stories focus business partners on the ‘what’ they actually need, while allowing technology organizations to focus on the ‘how’.  This is the key difference between Use Cases and User Stories in creating opportunities for the two groups to focus on what they do best, and energize development teams to demonstrate creativity and innovative capabilities.

Extending Agile principles to the business team, as end-to-end capabilities, are quickly deployed, and reduce requirements and customized needs in a system.  When a user sees what the implemented tools can natively provide, they quickly buy in to the solution and become committed instead of involved.  Untold Access databases have been put to rest once users realize the new platform frequently provides tracking and status capabilities naturally.

It is important we continue to educate and drive the Agile transformation within organizations, not as a status reporting tool , but as what it is, a transcendent methodology that will reinvigorate the relationship between IT and Business partners, Accelerate IT’s ability to delivery, Build stronger relationships between teams, and enable technology teams to think and deliver innovation.

About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.  11,000 satisfied clients can’t be wrong.

WEBINAR: Microsoft Power BI Solution for System Center Configuration Manager

WEBINAR: Microsoft Power BI Solution for System Center Configuration Manager


Microsoft Power BI Solution for System Center Configuration Manager

It is shocking how little the reporting functionality of SCCM is used in many enterprises. The amount of last minute effort a company will expend to obtain basic environmental information is also shocking. There is an extensive amount of data that is stored in the SCCM database. Hardware functionality, software configuration, patch compliance, end point protection, and bit locker state are just a few of the items that can be reported on from the SCCM database by using PowerBI. By using a platform such as PowerBI, not only do you eliminate the need to create scripts for collecting inventory but your data can be readily available when you need to report on it. Software and operating system roll out, for Windows 10, can also be monitored in a near-real-time fashion and ease some of the status reporting conflicts that you may experience. Microsoft provides a cloud based PowerBI template that links directly into SCCM and provides many benefits over traditional SSRS reporting. The Microsoft solution is extensible and is based on the PowerBI service in the cloud. However, this functionality can also be also be brought on-premise using PowerBI Desktop.


About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.  11,000 satisfied clients can’t be wrong.

Agile Transformation For An Insurance Provider

Agile Transformation For An Insurance Provider

OVERVIEW

A large insurance provider in the Northeastern US decided to implement an Agile Transformation initiative across their organization, as part of the implementation of a new policy provisioning system.


CHALLENGE

The Operations department were using a number of time intensive manual tasks to process client applications.  The Business and IT relationship had grown to be rather dysfunctional, with a series of failed or incomplete projects.  The business did not feel included in the initial development process, believed they needed to have the project scope identified in advance, and continued to build and support Microsoft Access databases to track work progress because the provided tools were not process focused.

 

SOLUTION

Partnering with the client, we were able to break the 12 month waterfall project into four separate 90 day releases, with 2 week sprint cycles per release.  The first release consisted of the technical framework, creation of an Agile development cycle, simple product sets, and simple quality assurance and training review steps.  The subsequent releases added product and client complexities, medical underwriting and other processes to the model.


The results was a successful deployment of the provisioning solution within their timeframe and budget, a large reduction in organizational risk, organizational acceptance and support of the Agile process, reduction in pre-production user acceptance testing from 3 months to 2 weeks, and client satisfaction and appreciation for our commitment to the initiative.


At A Glance

Large, nationwide disability insurer that lacked automated workflow capabilities or the ability to provision new policies.

Business Challenges:

  • Aging technology
  • Slowing growth
  • Company Scale
  • Lagging efficiency

Solution:

  • Workflow Engine
  • Business Process Analysis
  • Java Based UI
  • Agile Methodology Transformation

 

Benefits:

  • Total Scope – Delivered on time and on budget.
  • 500% improvement in provisioning cycle
  • $400,000 in first year savings
  • Full ROI achieved after 18 months

About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.  11,000 satisfied clients can’t be wrong.

Digital Transformation Within Hospitality – A Mobile First Case Study

Digital Transformation Within Hospitality – A Mobile First Case Study

Digital transformation within the hospitality industry has begun to push innovation in the mobile technology space. As a result, user experience and customer loyalty have become more important than ever before. Customers want to quickly make decisions and act upon them…all while on-the-go. Simple responsive websites are not enough to meet the needs for an ever-demanding demographic.

Why Digital Transformation?

A Mid-Western regional hotel brand, needed to make a meaningful change to the way users interacted with their booking and reservation system. They had a basic responsive website solution designed to allow mobile users to both make and manage reservations and learn about customer loyalty promotions on a website that automatically resized based on the device the customer used. In the past, companies would use this technique to meet customer needs in a cost-effective manner. Ten years ago, the concept of responsive design was introduced to meet the problems experienced by many business struggling to address the demands of the marketplace.  Google even started to demand companies offer users responsive sites if they wanted higher search engine rankings.

Why Mobile First?

For many companies, providing a mobile first experience meant having a responsive design that would handle this need. Unfortunately, most users found such websites very difficult and problematic to navigate. While they handled an immediate, need many of these responsive websites failed to engage and retain users. Previously, the cost of creating and maintaining native IOS and Android solutions were out of reach for most firms. Some even choose to develop a single solution or none at all. The cost of creating and maintaining two separate applications required numerous developers, a marketing team, and user experience experts. However, despite the costs, for the companies that invested in a mobile first strategy they were rewarded. Sources indicate that 90% of millennials state mobile devices never leave their side.

What happened?

The client partnered with Oakwood Systems Group to determine what solution would help solve their need to enhance customer loyalty through a digital transformation initiative. The solution needed to leverage existing infrastructure and be easily maintained by internal developers. Oakwood’s solution leveraged technology that allowed the creation of a single solution that compiles native code for both Android and Apple’s IOS. This means that developers only need to support a single language and can continue to maintain existing infrastructure.

Oakwood worked to create an exceptional mobile first experience that allows user to easily check availability, make reservations, manage their own user experience, and join their customer loyalty program.  Within the first 6 months the client reported over $500,000 in sales resulting directly from their new mobile application solution.
Want to launch your own digital transformation initiative with a proven leader? Contact us to get started!

About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.  11,000 satisfied clients can’t be wrong.

Oakwood Systems Group Earns Microsoft Recognition

Oakwood Systems Group Earns Microsoft Recognition

The 2014 Partner of the Year Capitalizes on the Growing Demand for Cloud Solutions

 

January 20, 2015, St. Louis, MO: Oakwood Systems Group, a business and technology consulting firm, has earned a new competency from Microsoft, at the silver level, for the new Cloud Platform. Oakwood is 1 of just 200 partners worldwide to earn this competency as soon as it became a major market opportunity.

The new competency comes at an important time for the firm. Demand for cloud services is booming and according to Microsoft, more than 57 percent of Fortune 500 are using Microsoft Azure, the company’s cloud platform. Additionally, the growing customer demand for cloud and hybrid services is expected to reach $108 billion by 2017. With the new Cloud Platform competency, Oakwood will be able to capitalize on the growing demand and deliver industry-leading infrastructure and software as a service (SaaS) solutions.

“Cloud technology is certainly the way of the future,” Oakwood’s CEO, Charles Windsor said. “We predicted this and put in place the necessary people and processes to ensure we could successfully deliver innovative cloud-based solutions for our clients. With this new competency, we can build on this momentum and continue to deliver cutting-edge Cloud solutions using Azure and other SaaS solutions.”

Oakwood has also received a nod for being an innovative Internet of Things company. The CIO Review magazine recognized Oakwood by naming it among the Top 50 Internet of Things Companies in its December 2014 issue. The magazine also featured a full-page spread dedicated to Oakwood’s success in the spectrum and highlighted Windsor’s views on this trending technology.


About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  Flexible engagement options.  Your project is delivered on-time and on budget.  11,000 satisfied clients can’t be wrong.

Interview with Guy Kawasaki on Marketing

Interview with Guy Kawasaki on Marketing

Good information shared by arguably one of the industry’s leaders.
Interview with Guy Kawasaki on marketing and building a brand.


About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.  11,000 satisfied clients can’t be wrong.

Actionable Business Intelligence Is Not A Million Dollar Project

Actionable Business Intelligence Is Not A Million Dollar Project

Ever heard the phrase “we have a lot of wood to chop?”  Well, we just realized that Business Intelligence is number one on the CIO “must have” list for the fourth year in a row.

What's Going On?

It's starting to seem sort of like a “goal weight,” isn't it?  It's something you put on the board as a target, but never develop a plan that will get you there – or don't stick with the plan you've developed.  You look at it as a great big hairy audacious goal rather than a series of smaller goals that will move you along the right path.  It's daunting, costly and going to take too long.

None of that has to be true.  Start with small steps.  Find a partner who knows how to lead you down a path with opportunities for short-term wins on the way to the ultimate goal.  Aim for the first ten pounds of BI, then the next ten pounds (just to extend my analogy a bit further!).  Before you know it, you'll be at your BI goal weight.

Business Intelligence Conclusion

With BI in the number one position again, there's a clear message here.  Folks just aren't getting it done.  Break the cycle.  A great goal would be to have BI move to the number two position next year, don't you think?


Next Steps

Review our case studies and engagements where we helped companies just like yours solve a variety of business needs.


About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.  11,000 satisfied clients can’t be wrong. 

Does Every Organization Need To Be A Best Place to Work?

Does Every Organization Need To Be A Best Place to Work?

Do you have a great IT group that is helping to make your company a better place to work?  Here comes the survey so you can sign up your company as the greatest place in the world to work.  Every organization is on a quest to hire and retain the best people, wouldn't you agree?  So how do you get the people you want interested in working for your organization, and, once on board, how do you keep them?

While there are many answers to these questions, to be answered by groups across the organization, let's focus on how the IT group can contribute to the employee experience.  After all, the first step in becoming a Best Place to Work has got to be becoming a good place to work.

IT Group Contributions

  • Have a help desk that quickly and promptly resolves user problems.  Consider a self-service portal so that help is available 24/7 if your help desk is not staffed 24/7
  • Support continuous process improvement through employee surveying
  • Make the on-boarding process not only painless but flawless and impressive
  • Automate the processes supporting your performance management system (employee reviews)
  • Create a system for information that employees need on a regular basis, whether HR policies and procedures, departmental information, or how-to-guides
  • Enable a culture of transparency by making key information available to employees, based on their roles and responsibilities

While the IT department is not in charge of corporate culture, there are significant contributions that IT can make to an organization's goal of becoming a great place to work.

Conclusion

What do you think?  Other ideas?  We would love to hear your thoughts.


Next Steps

Review our case studies and engagements where we helped companies just like yours solve a variety of business needs.


About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.  11,000 satisfied clients can’t be wrong.


Another $50K Into the Hopper

Another $50K Into the Hopper

Are you up-to-date on Microsoft licensing agreement benefits?  This morning I read another case study about a client who saved a lot of money (around $50K) by replacing a third party tool with a tool that they already owned by virtue of their Microsoft licensing agreement.  In this case, it was replacing the anti-virus solution with Microsoft Forefront Client Security.  Microsoft certainly has not been top-of-mind in terms of security solutions; in fact, I've seen clients chuckle at the thought of using a Microsoft solution to provide security.

Microsoft Licensing Agreement

Yet Forefront is a darn good product and we are seeing more and more clients implement it.  Microsoft seems to slowly be winning over the hearts and minds of the IT community with some of their newer products.

Conclusion

Over the weekend I wrote a post on Quickly Reaping the Benefits of an Acquisition.  Consolidating the anti-virus solution into a single platform is a quick way to reduce duplicate costs.  It has a direct impact on the acquired and acquiring organizations.  Talking about cost reduction?  Well, this is an easy places to save money.  For some organizations, it can be a large savings.


Next Steps

Review our case studies and engagements where we helped companies just like yours solve a variety of business needs.


About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.  11,000 satisfied clients can’t be wrong.

Do IT Projects Have Organizational Value?

Do IT Projects Have Organizational Value?

Several team members were discussing Portfolio Management.  We agreed that one of the main tenets of portfolio management is demand management, and the key to making it work is to be able to measure the value of a proposed project to the organization.  This is typically done by assessing the proposed project against organizational targets and goals – not IT targets and goals.  Whether an organization has deployed a portfolio management tool or not, IT groups can get more projects approved when the projects are able to be linked to the organization's direction.

A Couple of Approaches

So, let look at two different ways to propose a data management project.

Old Way

We need to upgrade from SQL 2000 to SQL 2005.

New Way

Marketing is working hard to attract new customers, and we need to be able to provide them with the most up-to-date database we possibly can.

Recently we realized that we are not updating our marketing list with the new subscriber list, and we can cure that with an upgrade to our database system.  Doing this will save us money in a mailing, allow us to engage more immediately with new subscribers, and allow marketing to use their budget to maximum advantage.  It's also going to have benefits for other departments, like the subscription department as well as customer service.  We'll be able to provide better service to our customers and our prospective customers.

Conclusion

Wow.  Now this IT project has some legs!  What do you think?  Approval?


Next Steps

Review our case studies and engagements where we helped companies just like yours solve a variety of business needs.


About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.  11,000 satisfied clients can’t be wrong.