Through a series of blog posts, we will explore how Power BI can be creatively used within law firms to create insights from data and inform business decisions. Let’s dance with data.
Firms want to offer online client services with real-time updates. Easily sharing reporting with clients. But how do you do it effectively, efficiently and within a sane budget?
If you’ve ever heard the wonderful Carl White of CX in Law speak on client service you may have heard the analogy between food delivery and legal service delivery. When I order a pizza, I get a real time update on where my food is. For a very small investment. When I purchase legal services, I spend a great deal and I’m often in the dark.
Online tools that offer real time updates on matter progress is one way to modernise legal delivery.
Power BI reports are offered online via a browser or app. They support row level security so you can create one solution and the client only sees what’s relevant to them. You can also create links to other applications within Power BI reports. So can Power BI be used as a client portal tool?
The short answer is yes. The longer answer is there are a few things to consider.
Sharing Reports & Power BI Licensing
The first thing to understand is the way Power BI is licensed. To access reports via the Power BI service (the online Power BI delivery platform) you must have a Power BI license. It’s licensed per user, per month at $13.70 per month (as at today – November 2020).
So to deliver reports to your clients securely using the Power BI service, they will need to be licensed.
One little caveat here. Power BI will allow you to publish reports, without security, directly to the web. Like this sample.
You can view this report without having a Power BI service license. So can everyone else. Including Google. The only data you should share this way should be completely in the public domain. Maybe sharing a real time counter of how many pro-bono hours your firm has clocked. Or perhaps a mock up of your amazing online service. The other limitation is that you cannot choose how you present the data. It will always be shown within the Power BI service frame or the native application format if accessing from the mobile app.
At this point someone cleverly points out that they can just apply a username and password to the webpage. Take that Microsoft! Microsoft has thought about this. Once you access the page with the Power BI report the direct link can be copied and pasted into a browser, bypassing your security. Plus search engines (like Google) are not stopped from indexing the data. For a clearer explanation, please see the wonderful guy in a cube.
Okay, so how do we apply security and share sensitive information?
The first thing to check is whether your client already uses Power BI services and therefore is licensed.
If they do, then you can add them as a guest to your AD, give that guest access to the secured reports. They basically bring their Power BI license with them. Or you can let them know that they need to invest in a Power BI license to access the online reporting.
This might work for a large client who you are working closely with to deliver bespoke solutions. Perhaps a property developer you do a great deal of work for. But it’s not really a scaleable solution for all clients if you’re looking to market your portal solution.
For a scalable solution, you would need to purchase the license for your client and assign them a username and password within your Azure AD. You basically manage the user and licensing side. Keeping in mind that licenses can be cancelled at any time. With this method you would want a way to onboard and off-board clients onto the Power BI service. And of course include the cost of licensing in any fees.
There is an alternative way to provide access to Power BI reports and applications through Power BI Embedded. This allows you to access the Power BI reports and publish them into your own apps, without the client needing to have their own license. This gives you control over security and how the data looks. I mention this for completeness as it is an expensive solution (between $1,000 – $8,000 AUD per month) and requires application development experience.
Long winded licensing chat done. How would the solution work in practice?
Let’s stick with our property developer and take conveyancing as an example.
You set the client up as a Power BI user and connect their username to your data source. If you are pulling from your practice management system then you might set up a custom field against the client for their username.
You create one “white label” report that shows key dates (maybe in a calendar format), spend so far, custom field data, links out to data rooms holding documents etc.
You set security on that report so that the client only sees the information relevant to them.
This way, you have one report, beautifully formatted that can be used for all your clients. You just need to ensure that you keep on top of the licensing.
If you would like to explore Power BI as a solution for your online client services, please get in touch with me – firstname.lastname@example.org
Join me as I explore more about how Power BI can super-charge your reporting and give you valuable business insights
About the Author
Robyna May is part of our Power BI team, her role sees her taking raw data and developing it into clear visual representations that can be used to inform strategic decisions.
Robyna has over twenty years’ experience in the Australian legal sector, both working within firms and supporting firms. She has worked as a project manager, IT manager, knowledge director, legal firm practice manager, technical consultant and software developer. This broad range of experience allows her to see both the technical and practical sides of any project. In each of these roles, she has had a keen interest in pulling data from various sources and presenting it in such a way that allows decision makers to have a clear, birds eye view of their practice.
With degrees in both IT and Law, she has a deep understanding of how law firms work and how technology can support them. She regularly writes and presents on topics associated with the intersection of IT and law.
- Posted by Verlata Administrator
- On November 17, 2020
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