Utilising Data Power: The Business Analyst's Quick Guide to Power Query

Kenneth Gray

Recognising the Value of Power Query

Data is the foundation of decision-making for Business Analysts (BA's). However, raw data, with its discrepancies and formats, can be difficult to manage. This is where Power Query can be useful:

  • Data Importation: Access databases, files, internet services, and other resources.
  • Data Transformation: Prepare data for analysis by cleaning, filtering, reshaping, and combining it.
  • User-friendly Interface: BAs can work with data using a GUI-based editor rather than going deep into complex coding.

Five Quick Steps to Power Query

1. Connecting to Data Sources:

  • Power Query has a wide range of connectors, ranging from Excel workbooks to SQL Server databases to web services. For the best performance, always use the most direct connector to your source.

2. Data Cleaning:

  • Take care of any missing values, mistakes, or duplication. BAs can use the functions in Power Query to replace errors, fill down/up, or even manually correct entries.

3. Data Transformation:

  • Pivot and unpivot tables, separate columns by delimiter, combine data from many sources, or group entries. Data can be reshaped by a BA to better suit their analysis needs.

4. Advanced Transformations:

  • For specialised operations, use conditional columns, date calculations, or even write custom M or R scripts.

5. Load Data:

  • Once the data has been processed, load it into Power Pivot or Power BI Desktop for further analysis and visualisation.
Microsoft Power Query process - Microsoft Learn

Power Query Formula Language (M)

  • While Power Query has an easy-to-use interface, BAs can achieve deep customization with the M language. Though it is not required, a basic understanding can enable BAs to build better personalised solutions.

Best Practises for BAs Using Power Query

  • Query Folding: Allow the source system to handle as much heavy lifting as feasible to improve performance.
  • Prevent Overloading: It's tempting to pull in massive volumes of data, but limit yourself to what's relevant to the analysis.
  • Document Steps: Given that projects may be reopened or handed on to other BAs in the future, always document your Power Query steps for clarity.
  • Stay Up to Date: Microsoft's Power Query capabilities are constantly evolving, so keep a watch out for upgrades and new features.

Continuous Skill Improvement

  • Official Documentation: Microsoft offers a wealth of tools, including tutorials and case studies.
  • Forums and Communities: For obtaining guidance or exchanging knowledge, platforms such as Microsoft's Power BI Community or Stack Overflow are invaluable.
  • Workshops and Training: To gain a better grasp of Power Query, consider attending formal training sessions, seminars, or webinars.


Power Query is more than just a tool for Business Analysts; it's an enabler that uncovers stories hidden within data. BAs can accelerate their data preparation procedures by learning its functionalities, ensuring that their insights are based on clean, relevant, and well-structured data. Embracing Power Query is a step forward in the journey towards data-driven decision-making.