ServiceNow Reporting: Power BI vs ServiceNow OOTB Reports

Published: November 3, 2022
Last Updated: March 7, 2023
PhD, Business Development & Partnership Manager at Alpha Serve
In the era of big data, businesses have the opportunity to get continuous insights. However, they need robust reporting culture with an actionable environment to achieve it. Companies must also focus on skillful reporting capable of dissecting data using tools, techniques and process implementations.

The perfect tools to achieve purposeful reporting include the likes of Power BI and ServiceNow Out-of-the-box(OOTB) reporting. If you’re using ServiceNow, then you have these two options: use the in-built ServiceNow OTTB Reports or Power BI by Microsoft, a powerful visualization tool. In both cases, you get insights that let you improve service provisioning, resource consumption and team performance.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at ServiceNow Reporting. By the end of the article, you’ll know in detail your options (Power BI and ServiceNow OOTB Reports) and know which is best suited for your business. To give you a complete perspective, we’ll learn about the pros and cons of ServiceNow reporting with OOTB reports and ServiceNow reporting with Power BI. Lastly we’ll provide the scenarios where they excel.
ServiceNow Reporting: Power BI vs ServiceNow OOTB Reports

It is a table of contents. Click on the needed subheading and switch between parts of the article.

ServiceNow Reporting: What are the options

ServiceNow Reporting: What are the options
If you’re using ServiceNow, your most obvious option is to go with ServiceNow Out-of-the-box(OOTB) reporting. The OOTB reporting is self-service and offers reporting functionality where you can create reports yourself. ServiceNow also offers a built-in reporting tool, Reporting Builder or Report Designer, that lets you create custom reports. These are great and let you create custom reports with varied flexibility.

However, if you’re looking for advanced reporting flexibility, you can opt to use external BI tools such as Power BI by Microsoft. It opens up new ways to tackle business data and the ability to create better custom reporting. Let’s explore each one of them in detail.

ServiceNow Reporting with OTTB Reports

ServiceNow Reporting with OTTB Reports
ServiceNow is a popular Software-as-a-Service(SaaS) cloud provider that offers technical management support. It gives employees the tools to identify and resolve issues across organizations quickly. Moreover, it offers managed workflow, including real-time communication, collaboration and resource sharing. The benefits include employee productivity, automatically restoring services, and increased incident deflection. ServiceNow supports multiple industries, including Telecommunications, Government, Healthcare, Financial Services, Manufacturing, and Education.

What is ServiceNow OTTB Reports?

ServiceNow is a cloud-based workflow management provider that excels at incident management. It offers a centralized data repository that anyone within an organization can use to create reports. To facilitate proper security, it also offers access management, ensuring that only authorized personnel can access sensitive information.

ServiceNow Out-of-the-box(OTTB) reporting aims to provide an easy way to companies to create reports without the need to perform advanced reporting. It sacrifices customizability and offers vendor-specific features.

For now, you can use ServiceNow OTTB to generate the following type of reports:

  • KPIs such as remotely resolved incidents, first-time resolution rate, etc.
  • SLAs
  • Assets
  • Configuration items and contracts data
  • Incident, problem, change and request
  • Service Desk surveys such as technical competencies, first call resolution, etc.
  • Knowledge base feedback
For most companies, OTTB reports are enough. However, it may not be able to fulfill complex requirements that require analyzing certain aspects of the work process. If you’re still adamant about using ServiceNow for complex reporting, then you can use its in-built reporting tool, Report Designer or Report Builder.

Either way, you can use ServiceNow reporting feature to control three aspects of your business: IT service provisioning, team performance and IT service provisioning. For example, you can use ServiceNow to generate custom reports on IT service provisioning to see several service interruptions, top breached Service Level Agreements, Service availability rate, etc. As for IT support resource consumption, you can generate reports that cover extra money spent, IT support units exceeding budget, etc. Team performance is also critical, and you can learn about employees by creating reports based on first response time, downtime per employee, knowledge base contributions, etc.

ServiceNow OOTB Reports: Pros

The ServiceNow OTTB Reports pros include:

  • Convenience: You don’t have to leave the platform using ServiceNow OOTB reports. It means you don’t have to change applications which results in generally faster reporting time.

  • Data safety with access management: ServiceNow provides proper access management. To create reports, users need proper ITIL roles, whereas non-ITIL users can see and share reports among themselves. The ServiceNow access management gives you the tools to work with sensitive data by ensuring that only selected personnel can access data and reports with sensitive information.

  • Powerful drill-downs: ServiceNow reports support drill-down, which support multi-layer reports. These reports offer better data visualization as you can include reports under visual elements. For example, you can create a pie chart, and under each pie, you can include another report with more insights.

  • Real-time data: ServiceNow reports support real-time data updating.

Other benefits include cost & time savings and schedule reports.

ServiceNow OOTB Reports: Cons

The ServiceNow OOTB Reports cons include:

  • Complex data: ServiceNow OTTB reports are not great when working with complex data. So, if you want to complex reports such as parameterized, data grouping, and dates reports, then you’ll find OTTB reports lacking. To successfully work with complex data, hire a professional or use an external visualization or reporting solution.

  • Custom charts: To create custom reports, you need to know JavaScript and Jelly.

  • Data quality: ServiceNow manual data input can lead to low-quality data, which results in inconsistent reports.

  • System overload: ServiceNow dashboard can slow down significantly due to listing heavy reports or running multiple drill-downs.

ServiceNow Reporting With Power BI

ServiceNow Reporting With Power BI
Microsoft Power BI is a cloud-based business intelligence platform that offers excellent visualization tools for gathering, analyzing and visualizing data. It is a feature-rich BI solution that offers massive data volume accessibility, real-time analytical, customizable UI/UX and outstanding Excel integration. Moreover, you can also use Power BI to create custom visualization reports with Python or R. To transfer data, you can use Power Query, which negates the need to know SQL to manipulate data.

Power BI also offers excellent integration options. So, if you’re using ServiceNow, you can use Power BI Connector for ServiceNow. This enterprise app seamlessly connects ServiceNow and Power BI. It means you can automate ServiceNow data transfer to Power BI without the need to write a single line of code. With available ServiceNow data, you can do visualization and analytics and create custom reports easily.

The key Power BI Connector for ServiceNow features include:

  • Easy data export with an intuitive interface and connectivity.
  • No coding experience is required to connect both services.
  • Customized experience achieved with advanced filtering options with the ability to connect as many data sets from various sources and connectors.
  • Built-in Power BI dashboard templates with pre-configures ServiceNow data that are easy to export to Power BI and edit if required for further customization.
  • Offers data access management for maximum security.

ServiceNow Reporting with Power BI Pros

ServiceNow Reporting works great with Power BI. The pros of using both of them together include the following:

  • Ability to analyze specific areas of work: Power BI is flexible when analyzing specific work areas. If your company needs more than just general reporting, then Power BI can come in handy. It lets you create custom reports and visualization using ServiceNow data. For example, you can use Analyze feature to explain fluctuations in reports.

  • All report types supported: With Power BI, organizations don’t have to worry about missing report types as it supports all reports. This means you can include bar and column charts, combo charts, doughnut charts, funnel charts, etc., in your report, giving you a multi-perspective view of the dataset.

  • Complex advanced reports: ServiceNow with Power BI opens up complex advanced reporting where you can include other sources to compile the dataset before generating reports or visualization.

  • Ability to configure Incremental refresh: With the Incremental refresh feature, users can enjoy even more timely and accurate data updates. This feature allows for only new or updated data to be retrieved, saving time and reducing unnecessary data processing. In addition to real-time data updating, the Incremental refresh feature also helps to streamline resources and minimize the strain on systems during data refreshing cycles. Read here to learn how to configure Incremental refresh using Power BI Connector for ServiceNow.

ServiceNow Reporting with Power BI Cons

Putting all your documents in the same place enhances transparency in the documentation and makes information accessible to everyone. It also eliminates the occurrence of duplicate files or data entries.

Increased Productivity

There are some cons when using ServiceNow reporting with Power BI. As you connect both services, you must develop custom integration using REST API. This requires investment in terms of both money and time. You can also use a third-party Power BI Connector. However, these third-party connectors also require some investment but save you time.

Lastly, even when you connect ServiceNow Reporting with Power BI, you may still need to switch between the solutions, especially regarding the data source’s relevance alerts.

In short, the two cons include:

  • The need to invest money and time to either create a custom integration between ServiceNow and Power BI or use third-party Power BI Connector.

  • And the constant need to juggle between the solutions to stay on top of data source relevances.

Which option to choose

Which option to choose
Critically speaking, both options are good. However, the use case may differ from company to company. If your organization has general reports requirement, then ServiceNow OOTB reporting is more than enough. Power BI is more suitable for companies with complex advanced reporting needs as it offers the tools to facilitate the need.

Choose ServiceNow Reporting with OOTB reports, if:
  • You don’t want to shift to another ecosystem and want to stay within the ServiceNow ecosystem.
  • You’re confident in using a fairly complex custom reporting solution with ServiceNow, powered by Report Designer or Report Builder.
  • You’re confident in the data source accuracy and don’t have to rely on multiple data sources.
  • You’re looking for real-time data updates on reports.

Choose ServiceNow Reporting with Power BI reports, if:
  • You need to analyze specific areas of work that utilize more advanced KPIs and metrics.
  • You need to build custom and advanced reports and visualization
  • You need access to all types of reports
  • You’re working with multiple data sources, including ServiceNow and want to create complex reporting.

In conclusion, Power BI is a great pick if you want to do complex advanced reporting, especially for the enterprise. The SN OOBT reporting is best suited for companies that only need general basic reporting and overview.

Final Words

ServiceNow reporting with OOTB report is an ideal pick for companies that can understand their business with basic KPIs and metrics. However, many companies, including enterprises, need to dive deep into their data to create complex reporting that can only be done using a third-party BI tool such as Power BI.

Both Power BI and ServiceNow support custom reporting. However, using the ServiceNow custom reporting feature is tougher. To overcome this, you need to hire professionals who can increase your cost of operations. In this case, a clear solution is to use ServiceNow Reporting with Power BI by using Power BI Connector for ServiceNow.

What are your thoughts on ServiceNow Reporting with OOTB reports vs. ServiceNow Reporting with Power BI? Which one do you intend to use? Comment below and let us know.

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