Our use of cookies

We use cookies to tailor your experience, gather analytics, and provide you with live assitance. By clicking "Accept" or continuing to browse our site you agree to the use of cookies. For more details please read our Cookie Policy.

Maximising Power BI Reporting from SharePoint: The Strategic Advantage of AxioWorks SQList over Native Connectors

In today’s data-driven environment, making informed decisions rapidly can offer a significant competitive edge. This is where Power BI comes into play, offering robust visualisations and business intelligence capabilities. However, the efficiency of Power BI reports is heavily dependent on the underlying data source, and for SharePoint users, the choice between using Power BI’s native connector and AxioWorks SQList could be the difference between good and great reporting.

The Limitations of Power BI’s Native SharePoint Connector

The native SharePoint connector in Power BI is straightforward and might seem adequate for basic needs. It’s suitable for small datasets and simple queries. However, when dealing with extensive SharePoint lists—those with thousands of items—or when attempting to query across multiple large lists, the native connector falls short. There are significant limitations in the volume of data that can be queried and the time it takes to execute complex queries, which can be a bottleneck for organisations reliant on timely data analysis.

The Two Types of Connections in Power BI

When connecting Power BI to a data source like SharePoint lists, there are two main methods:

  1. Direct Query: This connection type allows Power BI to read data directly from the source each time a report is run. It ensures that reports are always current and offloads processing to the server. The downside is the dependency on the data source for every report execution, which can be hampered by slow network speeds—a minor issue in a corporate setting but still worth noting.
  2. Import: Power BI imports data into its database and then generates reports from this local copy. While this method avoids constant data source connection, it has several drawbacks. Large datasets take time to transfer, regular data refreshes are needed for up-to-date reports, and the processing load on the Power BI machine can be substantial, especially for complex reports. Additionally, there are data import limits (typically around 1GB) and restrictions on the frequency of automatic data refreshes.

Why AxioWorks SQList is a Superior Alternative

AxioWorks SQList transcends these issues by continuously exporting SharePoint lists and libraries to normalised SQL Server tables. This makes live SharePoint data available to various reporting tools, such as Power BI, without the drawbacks of the “Import” method.

The built-in SharePoint connection in Power BI restricts you to the “Import” method, but with SQList, you gain several key advantages:

  • SharePoint data is exported in a normalised form, which is ideal for executing flexible queries for complex reports.
  • SQList handles SharePoint data types that are difficult to manage with the native connector, like multi-value lookup columns and taxonomy metadata.
  • Having SharePoint data in SQL Server tables allows the use of SQL views to enhance access control and report performance.
  • Direct query connections are possible, and indeed recommended, with SQList. This means you get up-to-date reports quickly, with the intensive processing handled efficiently by SQList.
  • SQList is user-friendly, requiring minimal setup time, with no steep learning curve and no changes needed to your existing environment.
  • SQL Server tables can be accessed by nearly all reporting and BI tools, not just Power BI, extending these benefits to tools like SSRS, Crystal Reports, Cognos, Tableau, and more.

Balancing Power BI Features with SQL Server Capabilities

It’s true that some features in Power BI are available only with the “Import” method rather than “Direct query”. These features can be critical for some analytics scenarios. However, most of these can be effectively replaced or even enhanced by leveraging SQL Server’s capabilities.

For instance, calculated columns and measures in Power BI can be substituted with computed columns and functions in SQL Server. The performance benefits of pre-calculated aggregations in SQL can surpass what’s achievable in Power BI alone. Moreover, SQL Server offers advanced data security features, like row-level security, which can be integrated with Power BI to provide a secure and efficient reporting environment.

In conclusion, while Power BI’s native SharePoint connector might suffice for smaller tasks, organisations aiming for optimal performance and sophisticated data analysis will find AxioWorks SQList to be an indispensable tool. By bridging the gap between SharePoint and SQL Server, SQList not only expands the potential of Power BI reports but also ensures that businesses can fully harness their data, achieve higher productivity, and gain deeper insights—driving strategic decisions and maintaining a competitive edge in their respective industries.

Latest articles

My Impressions of Microsoft Flow: A Developer’s Perspective

13 May 2024

Recently, I had the opportunity to explore Microsoft Flow, a tool that promises to facilitate the rapid development of software applications through […]
[read article]

Power Pages Unleashed: Creating Dynamic Websites with Microsoft Copilot

28 Apr 2024

In our latest tutorial, we delve into the capabilities of Microsoft Copilot, with a focused exploration of Power Pages. Our aim? To showcase how […]
[read article]

Harnessing the Power of Microsoft CoPilot in Power Automate Flows: A Comprehensive Tutorial

25 Mar 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology and business automation, Microsoft has introduced a game-changer that is set to revolutionize how we […]
[read article]

Embracing AI: Transforming Jobs and Unlocking New Opportunities (Claude 3 Opus version)

18 Mar 2024

The rapid advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have sparked both excitement and fear among workers worldwide. Many people are concerned that […]
[read article]

The Evolution of Work in the Age of AI: A New Era of Collaboration (ChatGPT 4 version)

18 Mar 2024

In the annals of human progress, pivotal inventions such as the steam engine, the tractor, and the internet have revolutionarily altered our way of […]
[read article]

AxioWorks Newsletter February 2024: Partnerships, Upcoming SQList Update, and Summit Invitation

27 Feb 2024

Hello Reader, This February has been pivotal for AxioWorks as we’ve focused on laying strong foundations for the year. Here are the key […]
[read article]

How AxioWorks SQList Aligns With the Priorities of Software Buying Decision Makers

26 Feb 2024

As outlined in the “2024 Global Software Buying Trends” report by Gartner Digital Markets, the criteria that predominantly influence […]
[read article]

Maximising Power BI Reporting from SharePoint: The Strategic Advantage of AxioWorks SQList over Native Connectors

15 Feb 2024

In today’s data-driven environment, making informed decisions rapidly can offer a significant competitive edge. This is where Power BI comes […]
[read article]

AxioWorks Newsletter January 2024: A Promising Start to the New Year!

29 Jan 2024

Hello Reader, We hope this newsletter finds you well and thriving. At AxioWorks, we are embracing the new year with great enthusiasm and are […]
[read article]

Exciting New Partnership and Innovative SharePoint Tools from AxioWorks and Lightning Tools

17 Jan 2024

AxioWorks is excited to announce a strategic partnership with Lightning Tools, a leader in creating innovative SharePoint components. This […]
[read article]

Get SharePoint and SQL news to your inbox

Stay up-to-date with industry news and trends, SQL and SharePoint innovations and all the latest from AxioWorks by subscribing to our monthly newsletter.

Subscribe to the AxioWorks newsletter