Case Study

Major US Manufacturer Optimizes Its Business Intelligence With Power BI

The Customer’s Challenge

A major manufacturing company, with a global presence and 40,000 employees, needed a way to optimize and standardize its Business Intelligence via Power BI. With no centralized data repository and dozens of departments creating ad hoc Excel spreadsheets and reports, they turned to phData for dashboard development, design and administration. 

phData’s Solution

phData started by creating a uniform design language for the first round of Power BI dashboards. We then enabled individual teams and departments to create their own dashboards with centralized data and a Power BI Center for Excellence, complete with templates, SOPs, and self-help resources. 

The Full Story

Cloud solutions like Azure, Power BI and Databricks give modern companies the ability to pull both granular and big picture business insights. But implementing and optimizing these solutions can be tricky if you don’t already have the internal expertise. 

As a major manufacturing company with a global presence, 40,000+ employees and hundreds of thousands of SKUs, the customer needed a way to bring its Business Intelligence capabilities up to speed with the company’s growth.

While the company already had Power BI in place, departments across the enterprise were using non-standardized data sources to manually create outdated Excel spreadsheets and Power BI reports. 

Without a centralized repository for their data, individual teams were creating reports based on their own understanding of what the data meant, slicing and dicing the data in their own, idiosyncratic ways. In turn, without uniform design language, or the right level of granularity, these reports lacked organization, optimization, functionality, and governance within the company. This often resulted in unhelpful, unrepeatable reports for the business. 

The manufacturer started looking for a way to pull insights that would be helpful for everyone from individual analysts on up to the C-Suite. 

Why phData?

The customer’s VP of Data Analytics wanted to create dependable reports that look good, are easy to use, and that employees across the organization would recognize as originating with the internal data team. They chose phData because of our expertise in Power BI dashboard design and development, as well as our experience with Power BI Service administration.

Setting Up a Centralized Data Source and a Consistent Dashboard Design 

phData’s Power BI experts joined the customer’s Agile SCRUM team within the Data and Analytics department to establish, prioritize, and work through a backlog of dashboards. These dashboards would be used across the enterprise, from the CFO and CTO to individual analysts, and serve multiple business domains by automating manual tasks.

After identifying the highest-priority dashboards, the first step was to create a consistent design language so that the insights could be leveraged across the business. phData established templates, color schemes and a standardized brand for each report. 

The team then defined various levels of granularity to make the dashboards accessible for various roles—regional sales for a VP or SKU sales by location for an analyst, for example. The team also added even more accessibility to these Power BI dashboards by introducing mobile views.  

This work was accomplished in two week sprint cycles, which were planned and resourced along with the customer’s internal SCRUM team. 

Introducing a Power BI Center of Excellence 

Outside of these agile sprints, phData set the customer team up for success by establishing a Power BI Center of Excellence within the company.

This went beyond documentation for the work completed; our Power BI consultants created templates, documented dashboard development practices, shared governance SOPs, held technical trainings and set up community forums for team members to share information and seek assistance with their Power BI instance.

While the customer still leans on phData as a Power BI partner, the Center of Excellence allows individual teams to collaborate on similar projects and first seek out self-help on their questions. 


The customer now has a Power BI application that serves as a cloud-based one-stop-shop for both analysts and consumers within the enterprise. 

With phData’s support, the manufacturer not only has a solid set of analytical dashboards, but also Power BI workspaces designed for each phase of the development lifecycle. These workspaces have proper governance and connect to automated deployment pipelines, bringing a new level of organization and automation to the company’s BI insights. 

By helping our client establish a Power BI Center for Excellence, phData has ensured that developers throughout the enterprise have access to the best practices, governance SOPs, skills training and events they’ll need to continue growing their BI capabilities in the years to come. 

The initial engagement was 12 weeks, focused on a handful of high-priority analytical dashboards. Now, phData’s relationship with the customer has extended to 18 months as our data experts continue to help the internal team build organized, optimized, and functional reports within Power BI. 

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