Creating Power BI KPIs: 5 Easy Steps


Power BI KPI

Designing proper evaluation parameters plays a pivotal role in making organizations more data-driven. One such type of performance evaluation technique is the use of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). KPIs play an important role in helping organizations make strategic decisions as they provide a holistic insight into the performance of an organization, through numerous stats. Designing and using the proper KPIs can help boost the revenue for your business and help you understand your customers better. This post talks about Power BI KPIs.

Data Analytics and BI (Business Intelligence) tools that help organizations make effective data-driven decisions are growing immensely in the market today. Power BI is one such BI (Business Intelligence) tool that helps companies leverage their customer data and build compelling reports and dashboards. By learning how to create Power BI KPIs, you can keep track of your business performance through compelling and informative Power BI-based visualizations. Creating Power BI KPIs is a technique that businesses can use to set clear, well-defined goals for their teams.

In this article, you will understand how to create Power BI KPIs for your organization in 5 easy steps. It will also give you an introduction to KPIs and a brief overview of Power BI. Furthermore, it will highlight the uses of Power BI KPIs so that you can understand its advantages. Read along to find out how you can create Power BI KPIs seamlessly!

Table of Contents


  • Access to Power BI Desktop account.
  • Working knowledge of Power BI.
  • Working knowledge of Databases and Data Warehouses.
  • A clear idea of the KPIs your organization requires.
  • Access to a data source or an existing report which you can use to create a KPI.

What is a KPI?

PowerBI KPI: KPI Logo
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A KPI (Key Performance Indicator) is an indicator that depicts the amount of progress a business has made towards achieving a measurable goal by evaluating quantifiable values. A KPI always has a base value or measure which is evaluated against a target value. KPIs are the go-to choice whenever you want to measure the performance of your business and the distance to a goal. The goal of a KPI is to help you evaluate the current value and status of a metric against a defined target.

When creating Power BI KPIs you need to ensure that you have a base measure, that evaluates to a value, a target measure or value, and a threshold or goal you want to achieve. Generally, there are 2 types of KPIs- Low-Level KPIs and High-Level KPIs. Low-Level KPIs focus on the individual aspects such as Employees, Sales, Marketing, Production, and many more, whereas, the High-Level KPIs display the Overall Performance of an organization.

To learn more about KPIs, click this link.

What is Power BI?

PowerBI KPI: Power BI Logo
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Power BI is a Business Intelligence tool from Microsoft. It helps users analyze data from various sources and build reports & dashboards. It can act as a stand-alone desktop application or as a completely managed Cloud-based web service. While the Power BI Desktop comes as a free application, the Power BI Service is a paid offering that charges users based on their subscriptions.

Microsoft also offers Power BI Mobile for people who want to keep an eye on their data on the move. Power BI also supports Analytical capabilities that can be embedded into custom web applications. It integrates seamlessly with most of the enterprise Microsoft offerings.

Power BI leverages the ability to connect with the most common databases that exist outside the Microsoft ecosystem and generate simple and interactive dashboards from them.

Key Features of Power BI

Power BI houses a wide range of features that makes it a better choice than other BI tools. Some of these features are as follows:

  • It provides a wide range of attractive visualization templates to choose from. You can create reports and dashboards using as simple or as complex visualizations as you want to represent your dataset.
  • Power BI has a feature called “Get Data” that allows you to select a range of data sources anywhere from On-Premise to Cloud-Based, Unstructured to Structured, and many more. New data sources are updated every month.
  • Power BI allows you to filter your datasets to focus on smaller datasets first. This enables you to pay attention to individual data in the dataset rather than the complete dataset at once.
  • It allows you to customize your dashboards using a variety of visualization elements. The dashboards are shareable and printable.
  • Power BI offers “Content Packs” that contain Dashboards, Data Models, Datasets, Embedded Queries, and many more. You can directly use the elements in the “Content Packs” instead of looking for the elements separately.

By creating Power BI KPIs, you can use the customizable visualization capabilities provided by Power BI to track the progress of your organization towards achieving its goals.

To learn more about Power BI, click this link.

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KPI Elements in Power BI

Every Power BI KPI consists of 3 parts:

  • Base Value: A Base Value is an average of the sum of other metrics such as Sales, Gross Profits, etc.
  • Target Value: A Target Value is an ideal you set to achieve the goals you want. This value is what you would ideally want to achieve from your Base Value. For instance, you set the target value for total units to be sold in a month as 200. Now, your base value will be the recorded value for a month. It can be less than 200, equal to 200, or greater than 200.
  • Status Threshold: The Status Threshold provides a range to evaluate the Base Value and Target Value. It also presents a high and low end of a range between the two values.

Uses of Power BI KPIs

Power BI KPIs help display complex information in an understandable manner. Power BI KPIs are used for 2 main reasons:

  • It helps measure progress i.e the positive or negative change occurring over time. An example of this is whether you are getting correct results or not, meeting targets, or lagging.
  • It helps measure the distance to a target or goal. An example of this is comparing how many Sales you have achieved over 1 month with your target number of Sales at the beginning of the month.

By giving a visual appeal to your performance, Power BI KPIs help all types of users measure business goals.

KPI Visualizations in Power BI Desktop

To visualize KPIs in Power BI, let’s pick some KPI-appropriate data. For the purpose of this demonstration, an actual sales column, and a target sales column are chosen. Follow the below-mentioned steps to create a KPI that measures the progress of the sales.

  • Open the report in Report View.
  • Under the “Fields” pane, choose “Actual Sales” and drop it on the screen. This will act as an Indicator.
  • Similarly, under the “Fields” pane, choose “Month” to add the time period. This will act as the Trend.
  • Click on the “Modelling” tab on the top ribbon to sort the “Month“.
  • Click on “Sort by Column” to sort by the order in which you need the months to be.
  • From the “Visualization” pane, click on the “KPI” icon to convert the visual to a KPI.
  • Further, add the “Target” column to the “Target Goals” field.

Steps to Create Power BI KPIs

You can create Power BI KPIs by following the steps below.

Step 1: Adding KPI Indicators from the Fields Pane

The first step to creating Power BI KPIs is opening the Power BI Desktop and accessing the Fields pane. In this example, you will learn how to create a KPI that measures the progress you have made towards achieving a Sales goal.

To do this, access the Field pane and select Sales > Total Units this Year. This value is the indicator.

Step 2: Adding the KPI Trends

Once you have set the indicator, add the Time > FiscalMonth. This value represents the trend.

Step 3: Check Whether the Columns are Sorted in Power BI

Next, go to the upper-right corner of the visual and select the ellipsis, and check that Power BI sorted the columns in ascending order by FiscalMonth or not. An important point to note is that once you convert a visualization into a KPI you cannot sort it, hence you must sort it correctly at the beginning itself. This is shown below.

PowerBI KPI: Sorting by FiscalMonth
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Once sorted, the visualization will look like the figure given below.

PowerBI KPI: Sorted Chart
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Step 4: Converting the Visual into a KPI

The next step to create your Power BI KPI is to convert the visualization you created from your sorted data into a KPI. To do this, select the KPI icon from the Visualization pane as shown below.

PowerBI KPI: Visualization Pane
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Step 5: Adding Goals and Formatting the KPI

The last step is to add goals and format your KPI so that it can begin measuring the progress you have made so far. To add goals, drag the Total Units Last Year to the Target’s Goals field as shown below.

PowerBI KPI: Adding Goals
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You can format your KPIs by clicking on the paint roller icon to open the Formatting pane. You can then format the Indicator, Trend Axis, Goals, and Color Coding, and Direction.

In case you don’t have Power BI Desktop, you can still create Power BI KPIs on your mobile devices. This way you are always connected to your business anywhere and anytime.

That’s it! You have successfully created KPIs to track your goals on Power BI Desktop!


This article gave you a step-by-step guide on creating Power BI KPIs using Power BI Desktop. It also gave an introduction to KPIs and Power BI to help users understand them better. It further described the key elements of Power BI KPIs and their uses. Overall, Power BI KPIs is a new ability that can be an asset to organizations as they leverage the visualization features of Power BI to define their ideal KPIs to achieve their goals.

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Aakash Raman
Business Associate, Hevo Data

Aakash is a research enthusiast who was involved with multiple teaming bootcamps including Web Application Pen Testing, Network and OS Forensics, Threat Intelligence, Cyber Range and Malware Analysis/Reverse Engineering. His passion to the field drives him to create in-depth technical articles related to data industry. He holds a Undergraduate Degree from Vellore Institute of Technology in Computer Science & Engineering with a Specialization in Information Security and is keen to help data practitioners with his expertise in the related topics.

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