What Is Row-Level Security?
by Christian Ofori-Boateng on Jul 14, 2020 6:55:00 AM
Let’s say that you’ve been using Power BI for a while now, and you’re starting to get the hang of creating and reporting your visualizations. Now you’ll probably want to explore some of the more advanced features that Power BI has to offer. One of those features is row-level security, which lets you take an even more active role in how you present your data to your team members.
Sometimes, you need to share data models with a wide array of departments and team members, but you also need to limit the visibility of specific data points. While some users need to access all of the data, others only need a partial view. Now you have a dilemma. Do you share an entirely new table with the team members who need limited access, creating more work for yourself and potentially skewing your data? Or do you limit access to the data models altogether?
Both options are recipes for confusion, and neither one of them are ideal. Thankfully, this is where row-level security comes in. Row-level security can help you eliminate confusion, share only the most relevant data, and make the most of your Power BI experience.
What is Row-Level Security?
Row-level security is a feature that lets you limit data sharing based on different roles. Instead of hiding entire tables and visuals, you can keep those tables visible but hide specific rows of data from certain users. Essentially, you put some of your data points on a need-to-know basis. You can send your reports in full to those who do need all the data, while sending more limited versions of those same reports to those who don’t need as much of this data.
Advantages of Row-Level Security
While it may take some time to get used to using row-level security, most users find that the benefits are well worth the time it takes to learn how it works. Row-level security comes with a lot of advantages.
First and most importantly, row-level security lets you protect sensitive data. Business intelligence is necessary for keeping companies up and running, but without the right protective measures, business intelligence also comes with the risk of data breaches. Row-level security is a strong protective step that can keep your data safe and prevent it from leaving the company.
Second, row-level security can help your team members filter out distractions. While you may have several teams working with similar data sets, chances are slim that all your team members will use all of the same data. Your marketing team, for example, doesn’t always need your inventory data, and your inventory team likely won’t need payroll information. These data sets can overlap, though, which means that some of your team members will have to wade through irrelevant data just to get to the numbers that they do need. As a result, your team members can experience delays in their work, which throws a lot of your business processes off schedule. By doing some work upfront with row-level security, you can ultimately save time for your company as a whole.
Speaking of saving time, row-level security lets you save time because you won’t have to create multiple visualizations for the same sets of data. Instead of creating several models, you’ll define several roles, a process which takes much less time and effort once you’ve done the upfront work.
Next, row-level security won’t clue anyone in on the fact that they’re missing any data. In Power BI, filters and roles are hidden so that only the creator sees what they’ve hidden from view. If one of your end-users runs a query for information that they don’t have, they won’t receive a message saying that they’re blocked from this data. They just won’t get any answers from the hidden data.
Finally, row-level security gives you control. While you already control your own data, row-level security lets you tighten the reins and define your own parameters. This way, you can send your reports with complete confidence and make sure that your data does exactly what you need it to do.
How to Use Row-Level Security
You can start experimenting with row-level security from the Power BI Desktop. First, define your roles so that you can control who gets what pieces of information. Once you’ve imported your data, start with the following actions:
- Click on the “Modeling” tab.
- Select “Manage Roles.”
- Click on the “Create” button.
From there, you can create, manage, and name your roles, keeping team members grouped according to the information that they do or do not need. Later, when you send reports, you can send them according to the groups that you’ve created within each role. You can add and remove members from your groups. Take some time to work with this feature and get familiar with it. Once you do, you’ll likely find it even more useful than you imagined.
Using Automated Reporting With Row-Level Security
Now, if you use an automated reporting service with Power BI, you’ll want to make sure that your reporting service works well with your row-level security features. While row-level security puts a lot of power into your hands, you also don’t want to lose the convenience that automation provides. If you’re exploring reporting services to use with Power BI, find out how your service options work with row-level security. Do they provide fast and reliable automation without limiting your control? If so, these are the options that you’ll want to pursue.
PBRS from ChristianSteven Software
The Power BI Reports Scheduler from ChristianSteven Software is designed to give you a perfectly balanced automation solution. PBRS enhances the convenience and speed that you get from using Power BI, and it doesn’t remove any of the control that you get from advanced Power BI features like row-level security. You shouldn’t have to take our word for it, though. Explore PBRS with your free trial instead. This way, you can see how PBRS can maximize your Power BI experience. Have questions? We’d love to chat with you. Contact us at ChristianSteven to learn more.
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