Assai customers manage thousands of documents in our document management system (DMS). Think about technical design documents and drawings, vendor documentation and corporate documents like policies and procedures. These documents are often related to large and complex engineering and construction projects, in sectors such as oil and gas, sustainable energy, and infrastructure. Document management and document control in a centralized tool, with extensive sharing and workflow capabilities, offers significant advantages to end-users and the enterprise. These advantages include increased productivity, efficiency, quality and information governance. Add to these, insights with a tool such as Power BI, and your possibilities become limitless!

One can imagine how challenging it is to keep an overview of all documents and other deliverables. For example, how can a document controller manage the actions and progress for hundreds of documents? Which contractors are lagging and hence causing a delay in the project progress? To complement the many Assai features that put you in control of your projects and operations, the Power BI reporting integration provides a very powerful solution to these typical challenges. Before diving into the features and advantages of Power BI, let us first briefly introduce this data visualization tool.

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a data visualization tool that enables users to develop reports and dashboards, about practically any type of data stored in Assai. It includes features for data transformation (Extract – Transform – Load or “ETL” for the experts), data modelling, and data visualization. Furthermore, it offers data connectivity options to a wide variety of database tools and applications. Users can interact with the reports in the cloud and on their own devices.

How do we at Assai offer value to our customers through Power BI? In the next section, we will discuss various ways in which we help our customers to get the reporting information from Assai, using Power BI, which they need to be in control of their projects and deliver them on time, within budget, with reduced risks and cost.

How can Power BI and Assai support your Document Control and Management?

  1. An easier way to manage contractors and vendors
  2. Less time-consuming, better documentation
  3. The next level of data and document management
  4. Stay updated with data-refresh feature
  5. Cloud and desktop sharing

Let’s dive in!

1. An easier way to manage contractors and vendors 

There are several advantages to the usage of Power BI in combination with the Assai application. With this combination, the Document Controller can easily manage the performance of vendors. The image below shows, for every vendor related to a project, the total number of transmittals and the total number of transmittals that are delivered on time by the vendor. Vendors that do not deliver on time are marked red on the dashboard. The Power BI dashboard also shows the total number of transmittals that are late by month and by document status.

Vendor Performance Dashboard in Power BI
Vendor Performance Dashboard in Power BI

2. Less time-consuming, better documentation

Our Power BI templates also include features for document status management, as shown in the image below. There are multiple statuses related to a document. For example, IFA stands for Issued for Approval and AFC stands for Approved for Construction. In Assai, every status is linked to a progress percentage. Documents are linked to a planned, forecast and actual end date. The document progress can be measured by grouping the documents into work packages. Document Controllers can easily manage thousands of documents, statuses and dates with our reports. Not only does it save time, since Excel dashboards are not required anymore, but it also increases the quality of the document delivery process.

Document Statuses Dates in Power BI
Document Statuses Dates in Power BI

3. The next level of data and document management with Power BI

Excel is a leading data analysis tool. However, there are some limitations to Excel, like the limited amount of data it can handle. Power BI can handle much larger amounts of data compared to Excel. This is especially advantageous for the purpose of document management, with often thousands of documents, each with many metadata attributes and revisions, in multiple different projects (or assets). In practice, this means that Excel files are likely to crash when loading and visualizing the data, where Power BI files perform quickly and accurately. Furthermore, Power BI is often considered more user-friendly than Excel. It offers drag-and-drop data visualizations, which helps users to develop and maintain their reports with less resources.

4. Stay updated with the data-refresh feature

Another capability of Power BI is the possibility to schedule a data refresh. Daily, or more frequently if necessary. This can be done in the Power BI cloud environment. We can schedule the data refresh or assist the customer in doing it themselves. This means that the end-user does not have to hit a ‘Refresh’ button anymore, when using the report in the cloud.

5. Cloud and desktop sharing

As mentioned before, Power BI offers a desktop and a cloud version. The desktop application is meant for development and the cloud version is meant for usage only. The data transformation, data modelling, and data visualization features are only available in Power BI desktop. Power BI cloud enables users, without any knowledge of the tool, to interact with the tables and visualizations. Any user with an account can log in and view the report, which enables scalability of dashboard usage in the organization. The Power BI reports can also be viewed from a mobile device, through the app, which can be downloaded in the Android and iOS app store.

Implementation of Power BI and Assai

How do we implement Power BI for our customers? We provide a comprehensive set of templates and usually do not have to do much more, as it is so easy for customers to make it meet their reporting requirements.  Power BI is a self-service tool, which means that business users themselves can build and modify the reports. We assist in the data retrieval process and in fixing issues that come up in the development phase. In other cases, we build and develop the dashboards for customers, based on their needs. Not only do we develop the reports based on the customer’s requests, but we have also invested in our own templates that can be implemented on a customer’s environment within days, provided that the requirements below are satisfied.

Power BI is the jackpot for document progress management. To benefit from all of this, there are three important requirements for a successful implementation of the tool:

  1. Purchase of the Assai Rest API module. The Assai Rest API module provides data connectivity between the application database and Power BI. The module generates queries that can be easily copy-pasted into the tool.
  2. Latest version of the Assai software. The Rest API structure often works best with the latest release of Assai.
  3. Proper use of Assai software. As the saying goes: ‘Garbage in, garbage out’. This also holds true for our reports. Missing data, outdated data, or incorrect data cannot easily be fixed in Power BI, but should be fixed in the Assai tool.

We hope you found this article interesting and useful. Get in touch for more information about Assai’s business intelligence services.

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