Power BI How To: Setting Up and Assigning Users and Roles


Power BI How To: Setting Up and Assigning Users and Roles

Power BI is a collection of features and services to help you display content like Excel workbooks, charts and reports through a different UI, if you wish, but also gives you some other options such as (but not limited to), scheduled data refreshes, access to on-premises data, and the ability to create, and manage connections to data sources to help ensure everyone uses the same data source for reporting.

In this post, I will discuss how to:

  • Assign users a Power BI license
  • Assign Power BI roles
  • Setting up Power BI

Before getting into the How To portion, it’s important to understand the various roles. Essentially, there will be three roles to be aware of when activating Power BI:

1)      Consumers
2)      Power BI Users
3)      Power BI Admin


This is any of your authenticated users that have access to your SharePoint site(s).  They do NOT need to have a Power BI license assigned to them to be able to see, render and interact with the content that is in a site they have access to even if some of that content is leveraging Power BI features, like data refreshes.

Power BI Users

These will be select user(s) that you assign one of the Power BI licenses you purchase.  These users will be able to add the Power BI App to sites where ever they/you choose and they have permissions to add Apps.  They will have the rights to access the Power BI site the App generates and set up data refresh schedules, queries, etc. (more on this later)

Power BI Admin

These users can access the Power BI Admin pages to perform higher functions like set up Gateways (access to on-premises data stores), create Data Connection files and monitor Power BI logs, etc.

Once you have purchased your Power BI licenses, your Farm Admins can assign roles for Power BI Admins or assign Power BI licenses to users.

To assign user(s) a Power BI license

In your Office 365 Admin center, go to the active users and choose one that you would like to assign a license to.

Click on the Licenses link and you should see a section where you can assign them a Power BI license.



To assign a user(s) as a Power BI Admin

Click on the link for the Power BI admin pages.

SharePoint Power BI

This will take you to the Getting Started page.

Power BI Admin Center

Click the link for Role management.

Here is where you can add/remove users from the Power BI Admin role.

Click the plus (+) sign and enter the users name in the dialog box that pops up.

SharePoint BI

How to set up Power BI

After you purchased Power BI and assigned licenses, log on to a site using an account that has a Power BI licensed assigned (Power BI user).

Go to the Site contents page for your site.  There you should see an icon for Power BI.

Note: I have seen the icon change a couple times so it may look different than below.  Just look for the one called Power BI and click on it.


You may then be presented with a screen similar to the one shown below.  You are given the option to have some sample data added to your site, or you can choose to Use my own data.

Choosing Add Samples will add content to your site and pre-populate some of the featured areas of the Power BI site.

Choosing Use my own data means it will just create the Power BI site and consume the libraries on content already on your site.

Power BI


Choosing Use my own data will render a site similar to the one shown below.

Notice that the URL is quite different.  It is not a sub-site of your site.  It is stored differently and has a parameter in the URL pointing to your site.

If you have multiple document libraries, they will be listed on this page.

There are a few sections to this page that warrant being covered in a different blog post to keep this one a bit shorter.  I will post more details about these sections in the future.

Power BI

When you have added content to the libraries, you will see menu options as shown below.

To enable a document to take advantage of Power BI, you must enable it.


Once enabled, you have a new set of menu options.


Things to keep in mind

Once you add Power BI to a site, the users will see a new link in the QuickLaunch.  If a user has a Power BI license, when they click this link it will send them to the Power BI site, as you would expect.

However, if a user does NOT have a Power BI License, as of the writing of this post, the users will be prompted to start a TRIAL!

Power BI

There is no option for disabling this at this time.

If a user does NOT have a Power BI license, but a document has been enabled in the Power BI site, a user can still see and leverage some of the advantages.  For example, if you have an Excel document that is using PowerPivot charts or PowerView reports that are showing data from a source like a SharePoint list on your site, you could leverage Power BI to automatically update/refresh the data so your PowerView charts/reports show current information from the list.  Even if a user does not have a Power BI license, any web parts you are using on your site to display the Excel document, will be updated and visible to the user.


Happy coding!




Here is a link to the “Power BI for Office 365 – Overview and Learning” site that has a lot of great information and details.


Here is a small sample of the content from the link above to give you an idea of the features available from Power BI:

Features and Services

Power BI consists of many features and services, and works seamlessly with Excel. Use Excel to create compelling content, data models, and visualizations, and then use Power BI to share, collaborate, and extend those insights (Excel is not part of Power BI for Office 365). More learning content is available for each of these features, by selecting the feature name in the following lists.

Self-Service BI Features in Excel – these features extend the data-specific features and capabilities of Excel 2013. Some of these have been available before, some are new.

  • Power Query – easily discover and connect to data from public and corporate data sources
  • Power Pivot – create a sophisticated Data Model directly in Excel
  • Power View – create reports and analytical views with interactive data visualizations
  • Power Map – explore and navigate geospatial data on a 3D map experience in Excel

Power BI for Office 365 – these features amplify the self-service BI capabilities created in Excel by making them available in a collaborative online environment.

  • Power BI Sites – share, view, and interact with reports in these collaborative Power BI sites
  • Power BI Q&A – use natural language queries to find, explore, and report over your data
  • Query and Data Management – share and manage queries and data sources, and view query usage analytics


Brian Gough has over 20 years of experience in the IT industry and proves to be a great asset to the Acrowire team. He has twice been recognized by Microsoft and his peers as a SharePoint MVP for his contributions and expertise in the SharePoint community. Brian has recently joined the Acrowire/ILTA Roadshow series as another SharePoint 2013 presenter. 

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