Business Intelligence and Project Management: What, Why, and How

Billy Guinan
By | Updated December 5, 2023 | 15 min read
Business Intelligence and Project Management

Key Take Aways

Learn how business intelligence (BI) can help organizations gain insights from their data and improve project outcomes.

The article explains that BI is a set of concepts, methods, applications, and technologies that are used to transform raw data into meaningful information that can be utilized by stakeholders to make informed decisions. BI helps organizations consolidate data from internal and external sources, clean and analyze that data, and generate insights to drive change.

The article also highlights how Microsoft Power BI, a popular BI platform, can be leveraged for project reporting with SharePoint. The article is divided into the following sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. What is Business Intelligence (BI)?
  3. How to Apply BI to Project Portfolio Management?
  4. Business Intelligence Software: Power BI
  5. Conclusion

The article provides a comprehensive overview of BI and its applications in project management. It also offers insights into how organizations can leverage Microsoft Power BI for project reporting with SharePoint.


Organizations increasingly turn to business intelligence (BI) to harness their data for strategic advantage in an era where data is king. BI processes and software are pivotal in transforming raw data into actionable insights, driving informed decision-making across various business sectors.

This article delves into business intelligence and its critical role in enhancing project outcomes. You’ll gain insights into how BI can be leveraged effectively, mainly through integrating Power BI reporting with SharePoint, showcasing one of the most influential and comprehensive business intelligence platforms available.

As we explore the synergy between business intelligence and project management, you’ll discover how these tools and processes streamline project workflows and elevate the overall strategic impact of projects within an organization.

Organizations that want more insight from their data tend to implement business intelligence processes and software solutions.

Project management on Microsoft 365

Watch a demo of BrightWork 365 project and portfolio management templates for Microsoft 365, Power Platform, and Teams.

What is Business Intelligence (BI)?

Business intelligence refers to:

“A set of concepts, methods, applications, and technologies, which transform raw data into meaningful information that stakeholders can utilize to make informed decisions.”

The Role of BI in Organizations

BI helps organizations consolidate data from internal and external sources, clean and analyze that data, and generate insights to drive change.

A review of Business Intelligence success determinants in project implementation highlights how these processes are crucial for business executives and key stakeholders in making informed decisions, aligning closely with the overarching business strategy of an organization.

The Three Areas of BI

BI is divided into three areas, each offering increasingly sophisticated analysis and insights.

  • Descriptive analytics: Tells users what has happened and what is happening now. Examples include inventory tracking and annual benchmarking. Typically, this form is aimed at non-technical users and relies on visualizations.
  • Predictive analytics: Uses various techniques like data mining and statistics to predict what could happen.
  • Prescriptive analytics: Leverages AI and machine learning to help users select the best course of action from a set of choices.


BI Processes and Goals

Business intelligence encompasses several processes depending on goals and objectives. These include:

  • Data mining: Used to find trends and usable data in large datasets
  • Data preparation: Compiling data from internal and external sources for analysis.
  • Data cleaning: Fixing incorrect, corrupted, duplicate, incomplete, or incorrectly formatted data within a dataset. This step ensures that data is high-quality and reliable.
  • Data visualization: Transforming data into easy-to-consume charts, graphs, and dashboards.
  • Reporting: Sharing data analysis with stakeholders to review. Unlike traditional reports, BI software generates rich, interactive reports based on more data sources and context.


The Evolution of BI Tools

The landscape of business intelligence has undergone a significant transformation with the advent of self-service BI platforms. Tools like Microsoft Power BI democratize data analysis, breaking down the barriers that once restricted BI to IT departments and data specialists.

Research on project management using BI and Big Data Technology underscores these tools’ transformative impact on project management, empowering a broader range of professionals to engage with BI technology. This fosters a culture of data-driven decision-making across entire organizations.

The intuitive interfaces of modern BI tools allow for complex data manipulation without extensive technical knowledge, making advanced analytics accessible to all.

Accessibility and Analysis

In today’s data-centric environment, accessing and analyzing pertinent information is crucial for all organizational roles. Self-service BI tools have revolutionized this aspect by providing user-friendly platforms where non-technical staff can easily navigate data landscapes.

Users can delve deeper into their data with interactive reports, utilizing drill-down capabilities and filters to uncover granular insights. This level of accessibility ensures that decision-makers can question and interact with their data, leading to more informed and nuanced business strategies.

The Need for Business Analysts

Despite the increased accessibility of BI tools, the role of business analysts remains pivotal. These professionals bring a nuanced understanding of the business domain and the technical capabilities of BI systems.

They are essential for configuring and managing BI platforms, ensuring they are tailored to the organization’s needs. Business analysts also tackle complex data challenges, translating intricate patterns into strategic insights.

Their expertise in navigating the intersection of business needs and data analysis is invaluable for leveraging BI to its full potential.

Benefits of Business Intelligence

BI enables organizations to put their data to good use. This helps data-driven organizations to:

  • Make better decisions based on past and current data.
  • Increase revenue with a better understanding of risks and opportunities, customer behavior, and competitors.
  • Improve strategic planning.
  • Understand the context of KPIs and results.
  • Standardize data management and analysis throughout the organization.
  • Drive change and improve performance.
  • Find and reduce inefficiencies.
  • Improve communication with stakeholders and teams.


How to Apply BI to Project Portfolio Management?

From task duration to costs, customer feedback, and risks, projects and portfolios generate vast volumes of data. To effectively manage these aspects, it’s essential to understand which project management requirements are critical for success, as they can be complex and highly variable.

As a project or portfolio manager, you’re likely familiar with the mammoth effort involved in collating and analyzing project data from different sources, a vital part of the project management tasks.

Often, these reports are static – if a stakeholder has further questions, you’ll need to spend more time tracking down the answer.

Enhancing Visibility with BI



Business intelligence helps project and portfolio managers get visibility into the project with a clear picture of the current status and how the project is trending overall.

Drill-down dashboards allow stakeholders to dive deeper into individual projects, eliminating follow-up reports and emails.

The Role of Dashboards

An example of a roll-up dashboard in Microsoft Power BI. As data is automatically loaded into your software and cleansed before reaching end-users, reports are more accurate and up-to-date than spreadsheets or presentation decks.

Standardization and Cross-Functional Projects

Integrating business intelligence into project management not only streamlines workflows but also brings a new level of standardization to reporting across diverse projects.

This standardization is crucial for cross-functional teams, where consistency in data reporting ensures that all stakeholders, regardless of their departmental focus, are on the same page.

With BI tools, project managers can tailor their dashboards to monitor various KPIs and metrics, aligning project outcomes with strategic business objectives. These metrics can include:

  • Resource Allocation and Availability: Track the distribution and utilization of resources across projects to optimize workload and prevent burnout.
  • Milestones: Monitor the percentage of milestones missed or delivered on time, providing insight into project pacing and team efficiency.
  • Planned vs. Actual Task Duration: Compare projected timelines against actual progress to identify areas where efficiency can be improved.
  • Stakeholder Satisfaction: Gauge the contentment of stakeholders with project outcomes, which can serve as a leading indicator of project success.
  • Percentage of Overdue Tasks: Keep an eye on tasks past their due date, which can signal potential bottlenecks or resource issues.
  • Risks: Assess and manage potential risks proactively, ensuring that contingency plans are in place and minimize risk exposure.
  • Budgets: Monitor project budgets in real-time, allowing immediate adjustments to meet financial objectives.


Managing Projects with BI Insights

Leveraging BI insights transforms project management by optimizing resource distribution and enhancing value delivery. It enables a strategic overview of the project pipeline, facilitating informed decision-making that aligns with business objectives.

BI-driven efficiencies in project delivery extend to refining business processes, ensuring that projects are completed within scope, and contributing to the streamlining of organizational operations, ultimately fostering a culture of continuous improvement and strategic excellence.

Understanding what project management success factors can leverage these BI-driven efficiencies effectively is critical.

Streamlining Business Processes

A business process is a set of steps performed by an individual or a group of individuals to achieve a goal.

Business processes, such as project requests and risk management, create the environment for project delivery.

Efficient processes lead to faster project approval and support project execution, for example, with quicker responses to vacation requests and procurement.

The Rise of Self-Service BI Tools

The ascent of self-service business intelligence tools marks a significant shift in data analytics, making advanced data analysis accessible to non-technical users. These tools empower individuals across an organization to extract, analyze, and visualize data without specialized training.

As we explore the capabilities of Microsoft Power BI in the following section, we’ll demonstrate how its intuitive interface and robust features can catalyze enhancing project management and driving informed decision-making.

Business Intelligence Software: Power BI

Microsoft Power BI is a “collection of software services, apps, and connectors that combine to turn your unrelated data sources into coherent, visually immersive, and interactive insights.”

Power BI helps organizations collect, analyze, and use data from multiple sources in one tool, such as SharePoint, Excel, and non-Microsoft systems. Capabilities include data visualizations, AI-powered Q+A, reports, dashboards, DAX statements, maps, and more.

Simple and accessible, Power BI allows end-users to work with multiple datasets – no coding or statistical experience is needed.

The platform is available in three formats:

  • Power BI Desktop: Used to create and share reports.
  • Power BI Service: Used to view reports and create dashboards online.
  • Power BI Mobile Apps: Access reports and dashboards on Windows, iOS, and Android.


There are two prominent end-user roles for Power BI:

  • Consumer or user: Anyone who uses Power BI Service in a browser to view reports, create dashboards, and complete light editing on datasets.
  • Designer: An individual, often a business analyst, who creates and shares reports using Power BI Desktop.


For those looking to delve deeper into Microsoft project management software, BrightWork offers comprehensive solutions tailored for Microsoft 365.

Power BI helps organizations collect, analyze, and use data from multiple sources in one tool, such as SharePoint, Excel, and non-Microsoft systems.

Capabilities include data visualizations, AI-powered Q+A, reports, dashboards, DAX statements, maps, and more.

Simple and accessible, Power BI allows end-users to work with multiple datasets – no coding or statistical experience is needed.

Power BI and Project Management

Power BI revolutionizes project reporting, offering intuitive dashboards and performance metrics essential for business users, including project managers and business owners.

This platform eliminates the need for cumbersome searches through various sites, emails, and spreadsheets, replacing them with dynamic, real-time dashboards. These dashboards enhance visibility and decision-making in several key areas.

Power BI dashboards give senior managers, and PMO leads visibility into:

  • Overview of Current Projects: Get a comprehensive view of all ongoing projects within the organization.
  • Detailed Portfolio Timeline: Analyze the timeline segmented by year, quarter, month, week, and day for precise planning and tracking.
  • Resource Allocation Insights: Understand the allocation and utilization of resources, including project managers, across various projects.
  • Key Project Metrics: Access critical metrics influencing project success and strategic decision-making.
  • Tracking of Overdue Projects: Identify projects lagging behind schedule for timely intervention.
  • Risks and Issues Monitoring: Stay informed about potential threats and current project progress issues.


In this short video, you’ll see how you can use Power BI dashboards for portfolio and project status reporting in BrightWork 365.

For Project Managers and Teams:

  • Project Timeline Visualization: Keep track of the entire project timeline for effective management.
  • Active Items and Tasks Monitoring: Stay updated on all functional items and tasks within the project.
  • Comprehensive Project Status Reports: Generate detailed reports on the project’s current status.
  • Issues and Risks Tracking: Identify and manage potential risks and problems in real-time.


BrightWork 365 Power BI Dashboards

Using Power BI dashboards and reports, BrightWork 365 helps senior executives and PMO leads to easily access, analyze, and action this data.

Aimed at senior executives and project managers, the Power BI pack includes:

  • Portfolio dashboards with a roll-up summary of all project sites. The dashboard offers four filtering options: “Project Status,” “By Project Manager,” “By Project type,” “By Department,” and “By Priority.
  • Portfolio timeline, a Gantt view of all project sites. Drill down by year, quarter, month, week, and day.
  • Project and Task Timeline, a Gantt view of projects and tasks. Filter by project name, type, manager, and task owner.
  • Work Reports allow project managers to check the status of tasks, risks, issues, and goals.
  • The Status Report Dashboard includes RAG indicators, weekly updates, highlights, lowlights, and next steps.
  • The Issue Report helps project managers get further information on issues, including the task-owner.

This post was originally published in December 2020 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Project management on Microsoft 365

Watch a demo of BrightWork 365 project and portfolio management templates for Microsoft 365, Power Platform, and Teams.

Billy Guinan
Billy Guinan

BrightWork Demand Generation Manager • Marketing

Working with a range of B2B SaaS project portfolio management software for nearly 15 years, Billy specializes in best practices and methods of how to leverage Microsoft 365, Teams, Power Platform, and SharePoint to make project management easier. His focus areas are Collaborative Project Management and Template-Driven Project Management on the Microsoft platform. Beyond all things BrightWork, Billy enjoys reading, trying to golf, and walking his pug named Nova.

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