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Power BI Dashboards for Finance: Key Use Cases and Examples

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Data is at the center of how companies make decisions today. But even as the keepers of much of their organizations’ data, finance teams are often detached from the strategic side of the business. 

According to our most recent State of Strategic Finance Report, just 40% of finance teams say that they have a seat at the strategic planning table, and only an alarming 13% are consulted about the financial aspects of strategic decisions. 

The problem, in many cases, is a lack of understanding from non-finance decision makers around what the data provided by finance means—or a lack of visibility into that data altogether. 

Finance dashboards built in a tool like Power BI offer a potential solution to this disconnect, as they can translate data into compelling, approachable formats with visuals that make insights easy for anyone to understand. 

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get started with Power BI dashboards, including: 

  • What makes Power BI a useful tool for finance
  • Eight types of finance dashboards you can build in Power BI (with examples and templates)
  • How to build a customized Power BI dashboard 

Why Is Power BI Useful for Finance? 

Essentially, Power BI can source and streamline data from disparate systems to provide cohesive data insights in one view. This allows your finance team to move away from siloed spreadsheets and databases towards a centralized and shared single source of truth. 

With its robust data modeling capabilities, Power BI also enables advanced financial modeling and analysis, including scenario planning, predictive modeling, trend identification, and variance analysis, all executed through the versatile DAX language

Dashboards are one of Power BI's most powerful features, translating complex financial data into clear and compelling visual representations. Translating live data into charts, graphs, and tables that can be more easily understood helps key decision makers in other parts of your organization leverage financial data more strategically, driving greater financial alignment across the board. 

Crucially, Power BI dashboards allow stakeholders across the business to access the information themselves, meaning finance teams will spend less time pulling data and answering questions and more time on actual forecasting, planning and analysis. 

Key features and benefits that finance teams gain from Power BI include: 

  • Compelling data visualizations in the form of charts, graphs, tables, etc.
  • Centralized datasets pulling from multiple sources and updated in real time
  • Drag-and-drop capabilities that make it easy for users to customize reports
  • Easy integration so data from other systems can feed into Power BI dashboards
  • Drill-down and filtering features that allow users to interact with data 

Collectively, these features allow users with all levels of data experience to engage with finance-sourced data more actively in their everyday work while also enhancing reporting processes for finance teams. 

8 Finance Dashboards You Can Build in Power BI (With Examples)

Here are some of the best use cases for Power BI dashboards within the finance department (in our humble opinion):  

1. Executive Summary

An example of an Executive Summary dashboard built in Power BI

An executive summary dashboard can serve as the primary mission control for your finance team—and the executive leadership you report to. This type of dashboard tracks high-level KPIs and metrics needed to understand the overall financial health of your organization at a glance. 

Some metrics you could add to your executive summary Power BI dashboard include: 

  • Revenue Growth Rate: The percentage increase in your company's total revenue over a specific period, indicating its expansion or contraction in sales.
  • Current Ratio: A financial metric calculated by dividing current assets by current liabilities, serving as an indicator of your company's short-term liquidity and ability to cover obligations.
  • Gross and Net Profit Margin: Gross margin reveals the percentage of revenue retained after deducting the cost of goods sold (COGS), while net margin accounts for both COGS and operating expenses. Both offer insights into cost management.
  • Cash Flow: The net movement of cash in and out of your business over a given period, highlighting its ability to meet financial obligations and invest in growth.
  • Working Capital: The difference between your company's current assets and current liabilities, representing funds available for daily operations and short-term financial stability. 

The kinds of visuals you might employ in a report like this to break down large amounts of information into a format that’s easy to understand at a glance include: 

  • Line charts showcasing revenue trends
  • Bar charts illustrating quarterly financial comparisons
  • Pie charts depicting expense breakdowns
  • KPI scorecards measuring performance against targets 

To get you started, you can download Vena’s Executive Dashboard template for Power BI.  

2. Budgeting and Forecasting 

One dashboard that can be especially helpful for your budgeting and forecasting is a predictive analytics dashboard, visualizing any potential variances in your forecasted plan versus your actuals. 
 An example of a Predictive Analytics dashboard built in Power BI
In Power BI, you can consolidate your budget projections, actual performance data and future forecasts easily AND carry out complex modeling with help from Microsoft’s advanced AI capabilities. 

Some metrics you might choose to focus on in your Power BI dashboard include: 

  • Total Revenue Compared to Plan: This metric evaluates the actual revenue earned by an organization against the projected or planned revenue, providing insights into the success of revenue generation strategies.
  • Budget vs. Actuals: A comparison between planned or budgeted figures and actual performance, enabling your organization to assess how closely your projections are aligning with real-world outcomes.
  • Expense Variances for Budget Sheet: This involves tracking differences between budgeted expenses and actual expenses, revealing where spending exceeds or falls short of the planned amounts. 

Visuals you might employ include interactive line charts showcasing budget vs. actual figures, trend graphs illustrating historical data patterns, and waterfall charts indicating cumulative effects on forecasts. 

3. Cash Flow Analysis 

A cash flow analysis dashboard can help you gain a holistic view of your organization's liquidity. It could track cash flow from operations, investments and financing activities to paint the most complete picture possible of your company’s current financial position. 

Some metrics you could add to your cash flow analysis Power BI dashboard include: 

  • Operating Cash Flow: The amount of cash generated or consumed by a company's core operating activities, excluding financing and investing activities.
  • Cash Conversion Cycle: The time it takes for a company to convert its investments in inventory and other resources into cash through sales, reflecting efficiency in managing working capital.
  • Net Cash Position: The difference between an organization's total cash and cash equivalents and its total debt, indicating its liquidity and ability to cover obligations.
  • Runway: The period of time a company can sustain its operations with its available cash reserves before needing additional funding or generating more revenue.
  • Cash Inflows and Outflows: Cash inflows represent the money coming into a business, including sales, investments, and loans. Cash outflows are the funds leaving the business due to expenses, debt repayments, and other obligations. 

Visuals you might employ include bar charts illustrating cash flow breakdowns, trend lines showcasing cash flow trends, and heatmaps displaying cash flow patterns. 

4. Operational Expenses 

An example of an Operational Expenses Dashboard built in Power BI

An operational expenses (OpEx) dashboard can help you focus on controlling costs and optimizing operational efficiency. It could track various expense categories such as personnel, marketing, and overhead costs. 

Some metrics you might include in your OpEx Power BI dashboard are: 

  • Expense Ratios: Metrics that express the proportion of expenses to a relevant financial metric, often revenue. They help assess cost efficiency and control.
  • Cost Per Unit: The average cost incurred to produce a single unit of a product or service, providing insights into production efficiency and pricing strategies.
  • Budget Deviations: Discrepancies between planned or budgeted amounts and actual figures. They highlight where expenditures exceed or fall short of projections.
  • FY vs. PY: FY (Fiscal Year) vs. PY (Previous Year) is a comparison of financial performance between the current fiscal year and the same period in the previous year, aiding in identifying trends and changes in performance over time. 

Visuals you might employ are pie charts depicting expense composition, bar graphs illustrating expense trends, and variance analysis graphs. 

5. Revenue 

An example of a Revenue dashboard built in Power BI

A revenue dashboard can help you focus on monitoring your company’s income streams. It could track all important revenue sources, their growth trends over time and their forecasted growth. 

Some metrics you might choose to focus on in your revenue Power BI dashboard include: 

  • Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR): The predictable and regular income generated from subscription-based services or products on a monthly basis.
  • Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR): The sum of all subscription revenues that a subscription or membership based company expects to receive annually from its customers.
  • Growth Trends by Revenue Stream: An analysis of how different revenue sources (such as product lines or services) are growing over time, helping identify areas of success and opportunities for improvement.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): The estimated total value a customer is expected to generate for a company throughout their entire relationship, taking into account purchases, repeat business, and loyalty. 

Visuals you might employ include line charts showcasing revenue trends, pie charts depicting revenue distribution, and customer cohort analysis. 

To get you started, you can download Vena’s Revenue Planning and Projections Kit, which includes a dashboard template for Power BI that leverages AI. 

6. Profitability 

vena-blog-Profitability Power BI Dashboard Example-image

A profitability dashboard can help you evaluate the overall financial health of your organization, allowing your to understand profitability drivers, optimize pricing strategies and enhancing overall financial performance. 

Some metrics you might include in your profitability Power BI dashboard are: 

  • Gross Profit Margin: The percentage of revenue that remains after subtracting the cost of goods sold. It indicates how efficiently a company manages its production costs.
  • Net Profit Margin: The percentage of revenue that remains as profit after deducting all operating expenses, taxes, and interest. It reflects overall profitability.
  • EBITDA: Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) represents a company's operating profit before accounting for certain non cash expenses, offering a quick view of its core profitability.
  • Gross Profit Percentage: The ratio of gross profit to total revenue, expressed as a percentage. It indicates how effectively a company generates profit from its sales.
  • Operating Income: Operating income is the profit earned from core business operations, calculated by subtracting operating expenses from gross profit.
  • Profit-to-Sales Ratio: The profit-to-sales ratio measures the proportion of profit relative to total sales revenue, providing insights into the efficiency of cost management and pricing strategies. 

Visuals you might employ include profit margin trend lines, ROI bar charts, stacked area charts illustrating income and expenses and waterfall charts. 

7. Sales Performance 

A sales performance dashboard can provide insight into your company’s sales activities and effectiveness, helping you evaluate sales team performance, identify high-performing products and refine sales strategies. 

Some metrics you might include in your sales performance Power BI dashboard are: 

  • Monthly Sales: The total revenue generated by a business from its products or services within a specific month.
  • Sales by Region: The revenue generated from different geographic areas, providing insights into the geographical distribution of customer demand.
  • Sales by Product: The revenue generated from individual products or product categories, helping assess the popularity and profitability of different offerings.
  • Sales Growth Rate: The percentage increase in revenue compared to a previous period, highlighting the rate of expansion in sales.
  • Conversion Rate: The percentage of potential customers who take a desired action, such as making a purchase, out of the total number of visitors to your website or leads.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): The expense incurred to acquire a new customer, including marketing, sales and operational costs. It helps assess the efficiency of customer acquisition strategies. 

Visuals you might employ include bar charts illustrating sales trends, geographic heat maps showcasing regional sales distribution and funnel charts displaying conversion rates. 

8. HR Planning 

An HR planning dashboard can help you focus on effective workforce management and optimization, prioritizing strategic use of budget, talent acquisition and employee development. 

Some metrics you might choose to focus on in your HR Planning Power BI dashboard are: 

  • Employee Turnover: The rate at which employees leave a company and need to be replaced, indicating the level of workforce change and its impact on continuity.
  • Recruitment Metrics: Quantitative measurements used to evaluate the effectiveness of the hiring process, including factors such as time-to-fill, cost per hire and quality of hires.
  • Attrition Rate: The percentage of employees who voluntarily leave a company over a specific period, providing insights into employee satisfaction and retention efforts.
  • Time-to-Fill: The duration it takes to hire a new employee from the initiation of the recruitment process to their actual start date, reflecting the efficiency of the hiring process. 

Visuals you might employ include attrition trend lines, recruitment funnel charts, and training impact visualizations. 

To get you started, you can download Vena’s HR Executive Executive Dashboard template for Power BI

How To Build a Power BI Dashboard 

You’ve decided on the critical dashboards you want to create in Power BI—now what? 

Here’s a step-by-step process for creating a basic Power BI dashboard you can build on to track and analyze key financial metrics. 

1. Define Your Goals and Gather Data 

Determine the purpose and goals of your dashboard. Identify the key metrics and insights you want to present and who your audience would be. Then, start retrieving the relevant data from various sources. This can include databases, spreadsheets, online services or other data repositories. 

2. Connect to Data Sources 

Open Power BI Desktop and click on "Get Data" to connect to your data sources. Power BI supports a wide range of data connectors, including Excel, SQL databases, SharePoint, Salesforce and many more. Select the appropriate connector and follow the prompts to establish the connection. 

3. Transform and Clean Data 

Use the Power Query Editor to clean, transform and shape your dashboard data. You can do things like remove unnecessary columns, merge tables, split columns, apply filters or create calculated columns. This step ensures your data is in the desired format for analysis. 

4. Create Data Models and Visualizations 

Design your financial data models by defining relationships between tables in the Power BI data view. This involves connecting related columns using drag-and-drop. Establishing these relationships correctly enables efficient data analysis and visualization. 

Next, navigate to the report view and start creating visualizations. Power BI offers a wide range of data visualization types such as charts, tables, maps, cards, and more. Select the appropriate visualizations to represent your data effectively. 

You can customize the visuals by modifying properties like colors, labels and axes. 

5. Add Interactivity, Formatting and Themes 

Enhance your Power BI dashboard's interactivity with features like slicers, filters and drill-through. These enable each user to explore the data and uncover insights based on their specific requirements. 

Make your dashboard visually appealing by applying formatting options such as fonts, colors, backgrounds and layouts. You can also apply pre-built themes or create custom themes to maintain a consistent look across your reports. 

6. Publish and Share 

Once your dashboard is complete, publish it to Power BI. You can share your dashboard with others within your organization or make it publicly available. Share with intention and be sure to include key stakeholders who can use the dashboard to make decisions. 

7. Monitor and Maintain 

Continuously monitor the performance and usage of your Power BI dashboard. Gather feedback from your teams and make adjustments and improvements accordingly. Schedule data refreshes regularly to keep insights up to date. 

With Vena Insights, all of your Vena data is available in real-time for intelligent reporting and analysis using embedded Power BI and Microsoft’s best-in-class AI and machine learning technology. This makes creating financial dashboards even easier, as you don’t need to export data to a separate application or switch between tools.  

Check out our guide, "How To Create a Dashboard in Power BI in 10 Minutes" for a technical walkthrough (with video) on how to create a Power BI dashboard through Vena’s integration with Power BI. 

Final Thoughts 

Power BI dashboards have dual purposes—they elevate your finance team’s ability to generate insights for better planning and translate complex financial data into easily digestible formats leaders can use to make decisions.  

Even better, Power BI can seamlessly connect to your existing systems and data sources so you know you’re always seeing complete and up-to-date insights. 

Did you find this article helpful? If so, you might enjoy this related content: 

What Is Power BI? Everything You Need To Know 

The Ultimate Guide to Financial Dashboards 

Advanced Power BI Features in Vena 


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