How to plan and conduct a migration from a legacy BI tool to Power BI

The world is rapidly changing; organizations are going through an accelerated digital transformation, and we’re seeing a massive increase in remote working, increased customer demand for online services, and increased use of advanced technologies in operations and business decision-making. And all of this is powered by the cloud.

As the transition to the cloud has changed from a trickle to a flood, and with the new, exposed surface area that comes with

Power BI migration series follow below the steps:

  1. Prepare to migrate to Power BI
  2. Gather requirements to migrate to Power BI (Stage 1)
  3. Plan deployment to migrate to Power BI (Stage 2)
  4. Conduct proof of concept to migrate to Power BI (Stage 3)
  5. Create content to migrate to Power BI (Stage 4)
  6. Deploy to Power BI (Stage 5)

The following diagram shows four high-level phases for deploying Power BI in any organization.

Phase Description

Phase 1. Set up and evaluate Power BI. The first phase involves establishing the initial Power BI architecture. Preliminary deployment and governance planning are handled at this point, as well as Power BI evaluations including return on investment and/or cost benefit analysis.

Phase 2. Create new solutions quickly in Power BI. In the second phase, self-service BI authors can begin using and evaluating Power BI for their needs, and value can be obtained from Power BI quickly. 

Activities in Phase 2 place importance on agility and rapid business value, which is critical to gaining acceptance for the selection of a new BI tool such as Power BI. 

For this reason, the diagram depicts activities in Phase 2 happening side by side with the migration activities in Phase 3.

Phase 3. Migrate BI assets from legacy platform to Power BI. The third phase addresses the migration to Power BI. 

Phase 4. Adopt, govern, and monitor Power BI. The final phase comprises ongoing activities such as nurturing a data culture, communication, and training.

Five stages of a Power BI migration

Phase 3 of the diagram addresses migration to Power BI. During this phase, there are five common stages.

The following stages shown in the above diagram are:

Pre-migration steps

Stage 1: Gather requirements and prioritize

Stage 2: Plan for deployment

Stage 3: Conduct proof of concept

Stage 4: Create and validate content

Stage 5: Deploy, support, and monitor

Stage 1: Gather requirements and prioritize

The emphasis of Stage 1 is on information gathering and planning for an individual solution that will be migrated to Power BI.

  • Compile requirements
  • Gather report requirements
  • Identify improvement opportunities
  • Prioritize and assess complexity

The output from Stage 1 includes detailed requirements that have been prioritized. However, additional activities in Stages 2 and 3 must be completed to fully estimate the level of effort

Stage 2: Plan for deployment

The focus of Stage 2 is on defining how the requirements that were defined in Stage 1 are used to migrate a solution to Power BI.

  • Decide on workspace management approach
  • Determine how content will be consumed
  • Decide if other content may be created
  • Evaluate needs for Premium capacity
  • Determine data acquisition method
  • Decide where original content will be stored
  • Assess the level of effort

The output from Stage 2 includes as many specific decisions as possible to guide the deployment process.

Stage 3: Conduct proof of concept

Stage 3, which is concerned with conducting a proof of concept (POC) to mitigate risk and address unknowns as early as possible when migrating to Power BI.

. A technical POC is helpful for validating assumptions. It can be done iteratively alongside solution deployment planning

The POC scope is dependent on what the unknowns are, or which goals need to be validated with colleagues. To reduce complexity, keep a POC as narrow as possible in terms of scope.

Most often with a migration, requirements are well known because there’s an existing solution to start from. However, depending on the extent of improvements to be made or existing Power BI skills, a POC still provides significant value

The output from this stage is a Power BI solution that’s narrow in scope, addresses the initial open questions, and is ready for additional work in     Stage -4  to make it production-ready

Stage 4: Create and validate content

There are four main aspects to validation of a Power BI solution:

  1. Data accuracy
  2. Security
  3. Functionality
  4. Performance

Stage 5: Deploy, support, and monitor


In Stage 5, is concerned with deploying, supporting, and monitoring content when migrating to Power BI.

The primary focus of Stage 5 is to deploy the new Power BI solution to production.

The output from this stage is a production solution ready for use by the business. When working with an agile method, it’s acceptable to have some planned enhancements that will be delivered in a future iteration. Support and monitoring are also important at this stage, and on an ongoing basis

Consider migration reasons
  • Enabling a productive and healthy data Culture is a principal goal of many organizations. Power BI is an excellent tool to facilitate this objective.
  • Address economic pressures for increased productivity with fewer resources, time, and staffing.
Achieve Power BI migration success

Every migration is slightly different. It can depend on the organizational structure, data strategies, data management maturity, and organizational objectives

Those who achieve Power BI migration success, there are some common follow practices

  • Executive sponsorship
  • Training, support, and communication
  • Quick wins
  • Modernization and improvements
  • Continual learning
  • Resistance to change
  • Constraints


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