Power BI for Cannabis Operators: Leveraging Data Insights for Analysis and Growth

Power BI is a system that brings together all of your organization’s data. Learn how Power BI can work for your cannabis operation.

Table of Content

    Power BI is a system that brings together all of your organization’s data so that it’s available for you to use in making business decisions. Connect various sources of information—like spreadsheets, software applications, or services—and create dashboards, reports, charts, graphs, and other simple-to-understand and interactive visuals representing your business.

    Pulling it all Together

    You probably have a collection of spreadsheets and systems. A cannabis operation requires tracking all kinds of things—some that all businesses have to keep up with like employees’ hours and vendors, and others specific to agriculture, like harvest reports, and still others unique to cannabis, like when a plant is destroyed.

    If you think about the amount of information spread across your various documents and platforms it’s astounding. Information related to people, places, plants, money, all connected by one thing: your business.

    In order to extrapolate anything from all that data, you have to take the time to comb through it, hopping from one spreadsheet to the next, pulling from one platform and another. Additionally, most cannabis operations are siloed thanks to complex organizational structures, which means contacting different people in different departments in order to collect information. To add insult to injury, by the time you collect all of the necessary information, it’s not current.

    Then, once all of the data is assembled, you have to spend time looking at it and thinking about how it’s all related. Few business owners have the time to go through all of this and end up making decisions based on gut instinct rather than hard data.

    Using a business intelligence platform like Power BI gives you an edge in a competitive world, because it seamlessly and effortlessly pulls together all of the information from different systems and makes it consumable. Looking at graphical representations and reports rather than columns and rows leaves room for you to think strategically and creatively about your business.

    Specialized Reports

    The horticulture industry is different from other types of production industries, and the cannabis industry is even more specialized and unique. Along with the fact that cannabis growers are working with a live product, it’s far more regulated than other agricultural or horticultural operations. Those two factors mean that you need specialized reports, and Power BI can help.

    Production Costs

    One of the ways the cannabis industry differs from something like auto manufacturing is that you’re building a live product, and things change. “One day, you might buy material for X cost and it costs another Y cost to manufacture your finished product. But then then next month, that cost may dramatically change, whether it’s an increase or decrease,” says Ben Marchi-Young, Senior Product Owner, Velosio.

    In order for those kinds of changes to be clear, you need the information put into a format that allows you to easily visualize it. Tracking daily or weekly variations allows for better demand planning, purchasing decisions, and resource planning.

    Cannabis is seasonal, as well, which means you need to be able to track how various techniques and experiments affect your yields. “Technologies and new methodologies are going to influence your growth and manufacturing,” says Sarah Silver, Director of Horticulture Solutions, Velosio, and you need to understand “how that impacts finance.”

    Investor Reports

    Because the organizational structures of cannabis operations are so complex, they often need different types of investor reports. For example, a company with operations in California and Michigan may well need reports for investors in one state or the other and a different report for those invested in both.

    You can build a dashboard in Power BI that shows all of your different entities in different states and various kinds of ownership. It keeps all of that information updated so that it’s simple to pull together when you need to report to your board.

    Productivity Tracking

    “How many hours did task A take on Friday? And how many hours did the same task take on Wednesday? Why are those numbers so different? What happened, and could we somehow streamline our processes based on this situation?” These are the kinds of questions that can be answered through a customized report in Power BI.

    When you can track productivity regularly, over time, it’s much easier to see anomalies, and to make adjustments to your processes in order to optimize every step. Understanding exactly how much it costs to take your product from seed to shelf is absolutely necessary.

    Schedule a Demo

    If you’d like to see how Power BI can work for your cannabis operation, contact us to schedule a demo. We’re always happy to discuss ways we can help you harness technology to streamline your business.