Power BI: Dashboards vs. Reports

Microsoft Power BI is the tool that perfectly complements whatever Office 365 app you’re using. It is astonishingly visual and easy to use. There are multiple benefits, dozens of use cases, and countless appraisals from users. And yet, one bit of confusion exists that Power BI users keep wondering about: what is the difference between dashboards and reports in Power BI? Well, here’s the answer that we’ve prepared for you.

Generally speaking, dashboards display the most important decision-making facts to run a business, while reports are information providers to dashboards that can be supplied in any format: text, table, chart, or a number.

This is what primarily distinguishes reports and dashboards, and we now know that it would be wrong to say that Power BI dashboards and reports are same. But there’s a lot more to look into to help you differentiate and decide on the best way of using them both in Power BI. So, let’s dive in.


The purpose

Power BI dashboards are essentially a collection of different data sets with key performance indicators, headlines, or most important data that is presented in a one-page display format. Therefore, dashboards make it very convenient for users to make decisions by just looking at them, as well as monitor key parameters on a regular basis.

At the same time, reports have their own attributes and metrics to display. They’re spread across multiple pages and have drill-down and drill-up capabilities.


The structure

While reports are based on one dataset or one business unit data, dashboards usually contain several sets of information for a wider view. Furthermore, while reports are more detailed data displayed in many formats like chart, graphs, etc., Power BI dashboards are one placeholder to display only the most important decision-making facts to run a business.


Visual presentation

The dashboard has a one-page display, but in a report, we have multiple pages to navigate through, since reports represent more detailed data. In Power BI reports, users can be drilled down to different levels of data sets, exported to any format, or download to a local desktop for further analysis.


Sharing capabilities

Users can publish both reports and dashboards on the web, as well as subscribe through email. However, dashboards can only be exported to limited formats that allow visualizing the important data rather than analyzing it.

Additionally, Power BI dashboards are not available for desktop, while reports can be created and viewed in a desktop.


Unique features

Power BI reports

Power BI dashboards

●     Slicers: slice and dice the data in the report with slicers.

●     Multi-pages: there can be multiple pages in a report, and to navigate between them one can use the navigation pane at the bottom of report.

●     Interactivity: users can interact with report elements and get more insight from it.

●     Drill down/up: you can have hierarchies and drill down or up in different levels.

●     Publish to web: users can publish reports as a public web page or embed in a publicly-available web page.

●     Explore data: drill down to the record level and see roots of a particular value in a chart.

●     Automatic refresh.

●     Customization by user is easy: change size of dashboard tiles, change order of them, as well as add new tiles.

●     Featured Dashboard: dashboard can be set as a landing page by setting it as a Featured Dashboard.

●     Power Q&A: an engine that will respond to your natural English language questions.

●     Alerts: users can define alerts for each data-driven tile in the report.

●     Related Insights: this is a search through patterns in the data set and their automatic visualization.


To summarize, dashboards and reports are not the same—there are many differences between the two. The major ones are that dashboards represent a day-to-day single-page view of main business parameters, can be automatically refreshed, and display real-time data. Reports, on the other hand, can be used by users to slice the data and interact with to investigate numbers in more details. To make the best use out of the Power BI you would need both, since dashboards and reports are designed to complement each other, not to replace.