Power BI: workspace permissions, roles, and report on who has access

Power BI is Microsoft’s premier business analytics service that is designed to enable access to interactive visualizations and business intelligence capabilities.

What sets Power BI apart from the other myriad of services is the simplicity of the user interface for ordinary individuals to easily navigate around and use to make their reports and dashboards.

Among the other services and utilities that Power BI offers are data warehousing functions such as data preparation, data discovery, and interactive dashboards.

Power BI functions by granting permissions to its users that allow them to access the application. Within them, there are various permissions for workspace reports which manage points of entry and access to the workspace itself.

These permissions are not immediately visible or apparent as many users engage with a report via an application or directly through the workspace.

Before understanding how permissions are granted and how to access them, it must be understood what user categories and roles Power BI offers.

Power BI Roles

You can add any user to a Power BI workspace by typing their name and then assigning them from four predetermined roles which grant various privileges and permissions.

Viewer

As is self-explanatory by the title, these kinds of users can view and interact with reports and dashboards without changing their contents. They have the lowest level of control over the data and the report.

Contributor

Apart from being able to view and interact with reports and dashboards, this user type goes a step further by being able to create, edit, copy, and delete items in a workspace, publish reports, schedule refreshes, and modify gateways.

Member

As with the contributor user type above, this user type can do all that the preceding user types can do. In addition, the member user type can also feature dashboards on the service, share items, allow others to reshare items, and publish or republish. This role is also able to add other users to the viewer or contributor role.

Admin

This user type can carry out all functions of the previous user types as well as add and remove users including other admins.

Manage Permissions for Power BI workspaces

Now that the different user types, and what they can do, are out of the way, you must know how to go about managing permissions for Power BI workspaces.

There are several ways you can grant permission to users.

Route 1 – Direct Access From Manage Permissions

Step 1 - Share Report with Direct Access

Go to the workspace containing reports or dashboards to which you want to give access to the user and then click on the share option of the report/dashboard.

Share Report with Direct Access

Step 2 – Manage Permissions

After clicking on the Share option, you will get the dialog below. Click on More options (…) on the upper right of the sharing dialog box and then click on Manage permissions.

Power BI Manage Permissions

You will get the ‘Manage permissions’ pane as shown below. You can see a list of people who have access to this report, and you can add a new user to have access. To add a new user, click on the + icon.

Power BI Manage Permissions

Step 3 – Provide user and Grant access

Provide the username or email address and click on Grant Access. Here, you can add multiple users and share the report. You can select or unselect the sharing and build report option available on the dialog box as per your need.

Provide user and Grant access

Allow recipients to share this report

If you select this option while giving permission, then the user will get the option to share this report or dashboard with another user.

Allow recipients to build content with the data associated with this report

This option allows the user to build a new report using the data/dataset of this report or dashboard which you are sharing. You can select or unselect these options as per your user permission level or need.

Send an email notification

With this Send an email notification option selection, the user gets an email with a link to view the report or dashboard. The below image shows a sample email notification.

Power BI Send an email notification

In this way, you can give access to the report to the users.

Route 2 – Direct-Access from Advanced Option

On the other hand, you can go to the Advanced option and give direct access to the report. In Method 1: Step 2, instead of Direct Access + click on the Advanced option as illustrated below.

Power BI - Direct-Access from Advanced Option

Alternatively, you can go to Manage permissions with advanced options directly from more options from your workspace as shown below.

Power BI - Direct-Access from Advanced Option

On the manage permissions page with the advanced options, you can see Links, Direct access user list, and pending list. Additionally, you can see related contents like Dashboards, Workbooks, Datasets, and Shared Views as depicted in the picture below.

You can do the following things from the Manage Permissions page:

  • View, manage and create Links.
  • View and manage who has Direct access as well as grant user direct access.
  • You can View all Pending access requests to the report, dashboard, and invitations as well.
  • View and manage Related content.
  • Additionally, you can apply Filters or Search for specific links or people.

Power BI - Access

Direct Access

For Direct access you can go to the Direct access tab, you can see all the users who have direct access to this report and dashboard as well as you can give new users direct access. To give the new users direct access click on add user as shown below. Then the user will get access to the report.

Power BI - Direct Access

You will get the below dialog box. Provide the username or email address then select or deselect the permission for the user and click on Grant Access. Additionally, you can write some additional messages/notes for users which is optional.

Power BI - Direct Access

You will get the same sharing options as route 1. If you select the Send an email notification option, then the user will get an email with a link to view the report.

Removing Direct Access and Sharing

We can remove the direct access and sharing option for existing users from Power BI Service permission management. If you want to remove access to the user, you can click on the … more options and then click on remove access.

Power BI - Removing Direct Access and Sharing

Go to more options of the user which you want to remove and click on Remove access as illustrated.

Power BI - Removing Direct Access and Sharing

To remove access, click on Remove access and you will get the below window dialog then click on Remove access as depicted.

Power BI - Removing Direct Access and Sharing

Similarly, to remove the reshare option to the user, click on the … (more options) and click on Remove reshare.

Cons of using Power BI

So, as you saw, Power BI is a very versatile and powerful tool for sharing data with users online and in a workspace.

However, there exist certain cons and disadvantages of using Power BI.

1. Table Relationships

Power BI is good at handling simple relationships between tables in a data model. But, if there are complex relationships between tables, that is, if they have more than one link between tables, Power BI might not handle them well. You need to create a data model carefully by having more unique fields so that Power BI does not confuse the relationships when it comes to complex relationships.

 

2. Configuration of Visuals

In most cases, you might not feel the need to configure and optimize visualizations in Power BI. But even if you do, Power BI does not provide many options to configure your visualizations as per your requirements. Thus, users have limited options for what they can change in visuals.

 

3. Crowded User Interface

The user interface of Power BI is often found crowded and bulky by the users. It is in the sense that there are many icons of options that block the view of the dashboard or report. Most users wish that the user interface or the report canvas was clearer with fewer icons and options. Also, creating scrolling dashboards is a native feature.

 

4. Rigid Formulas

As we know, the expression language used to deal with data in Power BI is DAX. However, you can perform a lot of actions using the DAX formula in Power BI, it is still not the easiest language to work with. Sometimes the formulas you create work well in Power BI, sometimes they don’t. You can concatenate up to two elements but concatenating more than two elements needs nesting statements.

 

5. Handling Large Data Volumes

Power BI has a limit of ingesting data at a time which is approximately 2 GBs of data. If you wish to import and use data of even greater volumes, you need to extend your free version to a paid version of Power BI. Also, users have reported that Power BI takes a little more than the usual time or even hangs while processing millions of rows and columns of data.

 

6. Complex to Understand and Master

Usually, Power BI is the easiest to use BI tool if you are using it simply to import data and create reports. But Power BI is an entire suite having a lot of other interrelated tools. When the purpose of your use is more than just creating reports in Power BI Desktop, you need to learn and master several other tools like Gateways, Power BI Report Server, Power BI Services, etc.

Overcoming the Cons of Power BI

We have now looked at some of the major features of Power BI in how it gives permissions and access to users, their roles, and the general workings of a workspace.

The analysis of the issues and challenges it presents shows just how critical it is to maintain control and security of your Power BI workplace.

Tools like Microsoft 365 Groups and Yammer can help you in achieving that along with maintaining a secure M365 environment that allows use you to fully optimize and leverage the benefits of a Power BI workspace.

Stay in control of your overall M365 security

Many IT Leaders use SysKit Point’s customized easy-to-use provisioning templates for Teams, Yammer Communities, Microsoft 365 Groups, and SharePoint Sites, to help solve the challenges of Power BI workspace sprawl.

Book a no-obligation demo to discover how you can stay in full control of your Office 365 environment.

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