Here at DevFacto, we love SharePoint. But we also believe that its value is fully realized only when users leverage it in their daily work.
The thing is that organizations don’t always know how their employees are using SharePoint. Luckily, there are various tools that can help you track SharePoint user adoption – in fact, Microsoft provides some valuable SharePoint Analytics right out of the box. However, if you’re looking for a more robust SharePoint reporting solution, you might want to consider integrating your SharePoint with Power BI. In this article we’ll show you how the built-in SharePoint Analytics stack up against Power BI, and which solution might be optimal for your organization.
To start, let’s look at the reporting capabilities that come with SharePoint out of the box.
Depending on whether you are using SharePoint Online or On-Premises, your solution will have some form of built-in analytics:
Usage reports are meant to show statistics about how visitors have interacted with SharePoint content. All usage reports are broken down per event usage. This means, for example, that you can see the number of views or number of recommendations displayed for an item. The two main reports included are the Most Popular Items and Popularity Trends. This offering is only available in SharePoint On-Premises.
Site usage visuals are available to all users on your SharePoint site. The site usage visual shows information such as unique viewers, total site visits, site traffic insights, as well as what’s being shared with external users. These reports don’t offer details, serving rather as a quick snippet of very high-level information. Here is an example of what a Site Usage report looks like:
The site activity web part can be added to a modern web page on your SharePoint site. It shows documents that are being edited, added or deleted within your SharePoint site.
The audit log reports are meant to track who is opening SharePoint files and folders in any site, and what they are doing with those files. Not all information tracked is available in SharePoint On-Premise and SharePoint Online. These audit log reports are very detailed and display information in a line-by-line format.
The Office 365 admin center reports are only available for SharePoint online. In the O365 Admin Center you can view application usage on a user-by-user basis, however the information is limited and does not offer usage insights. This is a high-level report that is only available to administrators of Office 365.
For us at DevFacto, this is what an Office 365 admin center reports looks like:
The Office 365 Adoption Content Pack is a detailed Power BI report created by Microsoft. It visually shows summary analytics about Office 365 adoption. However, it is only available for SharePoint Online with Office 365. While only Office 365 administrators have full control over the information, they are able to grant permissions to various people within the company. This is what an out of the box Microsoft 365 Power BI report looks like:
Although the out of the box offerings for SharePoint Analytics provide a lot of information, they do come with some limitations:
All these offerings are presented either as a generalized summary analytics or as un-summarized information. For example, the Site Usage visuals show quick summary charts that don’t give you in-depth detail, while the Audit Log Reports show line-by-line data but no summary analytics. Depending on your situation, you may want to view summary and drill-down into detail, or vice versa.
Understanding how the users interact with SharePoint content is the most important aspect of adoption monitoring. You may want to know which users are visiting which sites, which users are not using any sites, which sites are visited the most, which devices are being used to access your site, etc. However, none of the OOTB offerings show the detail that you might be searching for, which likely means you will have to come to conclusions on your own or summarize the data yourself.
Since the six built-in offerings all show different data, you may find yourself going to different spots track down information. This means sifting through large volumes of data, just to find relevant insights. In addition to that, some of the offerings are available only on SharePoint Online or only on SharePoint On-Premises, but not both.
Some of the data comes in the form of excel spreadsheets, while other in the form of online charts or visualizations. For this reason, it becomes impossible to combine all sources of data together and to get a quick picture of the situation.
Companies often want to set up SharePoint reports based on permission levels. For example, your CIO may want to view all summary information to understand how the company is adopting SharePoint. On the other hand, your Operations Manager may want to view a slice of detailed information related to everyday operations. Unfortunately, this kind of functionality does not currently exist in SharePoint out of the box. While some reports (such as the audit reports) are only available to admins, they aren’t easily accessible to others in your organization.
So, is there a better way to report SharePoint usage? And, ideally, can you do it using the tools you already have? Being huge fans of simple, user-friendly Power BI dashboards we developed a solution that integrates these two applications giving you full visibility of your SharePoint metrics in one centralized location. By far, the best thing about it is the ability to monitor all your key SharePoint metrics at a glance and drill into detailed data when needed. The dashboard makes it easy to understand you organization’s SharePoint usage and to make quick, informed decisions based on your own data. What’s more, our reporting solution works for both SharePoint Online and SharePoint On-Premise which means that you can get the insights you need no matter which version you’re using. This solution combines Power BI and Azure Application Insights to automatically deliver reliable SharePoint usage information.
What kind of data can you track with by integrating SharePoint with Power BI? Here are some examples of insights you can get from this automated SharePoint analytics solutions:
In addition to that, the solution can collect other usage data that are important to your company.
Here is what our DevFacto SharePoint usage dashboard looked like at a point in time:
Here is how you can benefit from leveraging this Power BI and Azure App Insights based solution in reporting your oranization’s SharePoint usage.
By integrating SharePoint with Power BI you can access both summary statistics and in-depth data about your SharePoint adoption. You can choose which view is the most important to you and dive deeper when you see appropriate.
Unlike the OOTB offerings that show you all of the available data regardless of your needs, Power BI dashboard is easily tailored to your actual usage. This means that you can choose to see only the data that matters to you, and nothing more.
Thanks to Azure App Insights, your data updates automatically, which means your reports are available on-demand anytime.
With different user types you can tailor access to data based on job needs giving the right data to those who need them.
By using Power BI for SharePoint analytics you can access all your reports in one central location eliminating redundancy.
All technologies involved in this solution are a part of the Microsoft stack. This means no additional enterprise agreements and little to no added ongoing costs.
Best of all? This solution is simple and inexpensive, so you can get started quickly.
Need help with gaining deeper business insights from your SharePoint analytics? Get in touch. We can help you integrate your SharePoint with Power BI for reliable and accessible SharePoint usage metrics.