A natural gas & utility company implement Power BI with SAP HANA to improve operations


VNB Consulting assisted a Utilities company with Microsoft Power BI (Business Intelligence) infrastructure set up and configuration, establish industry standard best practices for design and development of Power BI reports and to develop enterprise Power BI dashboards with SAP HANA data  for operations team

Customer Profile

The customer is a leading natural gas and electric utility company committed to delivering reliable, safe and affordable energy. They strive to be the preeminent energy distribution company in the targeted global markets by providing a superior range of energy products and services to their customers. The goal of the customer is to deliver the fundamental need of safe, reliable and efficient energy to all their customers through best-in-class safety, operations, products and services while positively impacting the lives of the employees, customers, and the communities they serve.

Customer Situation


The customer has multiple data sources like SAP Hana Data Mart, SAP BW, SAP ECC, Oracle data warehouse and SQL Server that are currently in use to drive reports and dashboards for analysis and strategic decision making by the business. They have multiple reporting tools such Tableau, SAP Fiori, SAP AOC, OBIEE etc. with varying digress of difficulty and complication. Thus, they wanted to unify their reporting interface so that all departments and business units could focus on a single unified reporting tool. After evaluating multiple reporting tools, they decided to move forward with Microsoft Power BI. Due to multiple data sources, they decided to design a data gateway architecture as well that can handle the all reporting needs as part of their enterprise framework. The Operations business unit has been using some out of the box reports and a large number of custom reports built in SAP HANA. However, it requires multiple steps and screens to access, display and manage the line items. Due to the complexity of viewing, analyzing, and managing the notifications and work orders within SAP, the Operations team was unable to address tasks on a timely manner. While still leveraging the underlying SAP Service Notification functionality and data structures, the Operations team wanted a dashboard that would bring the notifications to the forefront and facilitate attention and action in a timely manner. After a thorough vendor selection process, the customer selected our team to help them - Establish best practices in identified key disciplines related to different aspects of Power BI like Data Import methodologies, Connections, Different Visualization techniques based on requirements and so on, Setting up connections to SAP HANA Data mart, SAP BW, SAP ECC, Oracle legacy data warehouse and SQL Server databases, Build and deploy an enterprise wide Notifications dashboard for the Operations team.

Our Solution Offering


In order to determine the best possible solution for the data gateway architecture for the various environments and data sources such as SAP data sources, Legacy Oracle DW and SQL server, our BI team kicked off the project with multiple rounds of interviews with the DBA team/Network team and the IT team. After a thorough review of the current landscape and future vision, we proposed that a Data Gateway server be setup for each environment such as DEV, QA and PROD along with failover for Production. Hardware and Software recommendations for the data gateway servers were made by the VNB team, and the Gateway servers for the Dev, QA and Prod environments were put in place. Best practices like cluster installations for Production, placement of the gateways closer to data sources to minimize network latency, outbound ports that need to be kept open for communication were all put in place and documented for current and future installations. Industry standard best practices that govern key disciplines of design, development and testing of Power BI reports were also documented for future reference by the client. In order to leverage the SAP Service Notification functionality and data structures, relational views were made available to the VNB BI team. The data in the views was consumed in Power BI using the HANA connector. The imported data was further massaged, and appropriate business logic was applied to arrive at a Power BI report with multiple pages catering to the business requirements and to assist the Business team. Various standard visuals like Clustered Bar Chart, Card Visual, Line and Clustered Column Chart and some custom visuals like Decomposition tree were set up to assist the business users navigate, analyze, assimilate and take action. An enterprise dashboard was also configured, published and delivered to the client. Our BI team came up with exhaustive test cases and user manual to assist in UAT testing and sign off.

Customer Benefits

  • Cleansing and formatting of data in order to remove inconsistencies, inefficiencies and duplication of data, hence improving data quality and ensuring validity of data.
  • Treat and prevent incongruent data - create missing links between datasets, wherever applicable.
  • Creation of user-friendly reports that will bring the notifications to the forefront and facilitate attention and action in a timely manner.
  • Ease of viewing, analyzing, and managing the notifications by the Operations Department.
  • Quick turnover on creating reports and dashboards.
  • User friendly documentation with exhaustive visual and written instructions that the customer can easily follow for the next leg of setup, development, deployment and testing.

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