Power Automate, Power BI and Tableau Upgrades for a National Tire Distributor


A national tire distributor with over 60 logistics centers provides dealers and retailers across the U.S. with a comprehensive range of passenger and light truck tires.

INDUSTRY: Tire Distribution

The Project Scope

The company was using Tableau and had a plan to move to Power BI because of some desired features. They had a huge backlog of dashboards and reports that needed to be built, but with limited Power BI expertise, they were facing throughput challenges. Because of the pandemic, they were also facing cash flow challenges for a period of time. Smartbridge was engaged to bring the necessary resources and expertise to build some Tableau dashboards followed by Power BI content utilizing Power Automate.

Smartbridge has extensive experience in Data & Analytics

Key Challenges and Issues

  • They hadn’t used Power BI before so everything was brand new and needed to be implemented.

  • There was initially some resistance to switching to Power BI. Users were accustomed to the self-service capabilities of Tableau and didn’t recognize the value (at first) in switching to Power BI. As part of the development, we also conducted a series of training sessions to make them more comfortable with Power BI.

  • The company was undergoing an overhaul of the EDW and is in the process of refreshing most of the data warehouse schema. This posed a huge challenge since we had to build the front-end on a moving back-end.

Smartbridge Solutions

power bi and tableau
power bi and tableau
power automate

1. Instead of migrating existing Tableau content to Power BI, with guidance from the sponsor, we started with upgrading some Tableau content followed by creating new content in PowerBI to get buy-in from the business. Smartbridge built a set of Tableau dashboards for primarily 2 groups:

  • Dashboards for Finance

    We built content around daily unit sales focusing on volume.

  • Dashboards for the Car Dealer Team

    These are a set of dashboards addressing various aspects of their car dealer customers, specifically focusing on invoice data, replenishment, and stock status.

2. Smartbridge also created 4 Power BI apps (set of dashboards) for various groups of the business:

  • App for Finance

    Prior to this app, the company was reporting everything according to the volume of tires in Tableau. Now they have reports focused on actual and cost amounts along with volumes.

  • App for Sales

    This app calculates daily incentives for the sales team and also creates reports that are sent to the executive teams on a daily basis. It also includes new customer tracking.

  • App for Operations

    This app is used for stock and inventory analysis. Users can analyze the fill rates for each of the locations and much more.

  • App for Field Sales

    This is used by the executive team to look into the sales team’s performance and comparison.

3. Smartbridge also provided the client with Microsoft Power Automate flows which would automate the email feeds for the organization. Previously when a support email would come in, a support team in India would load the data into a data warehouse. Now the data is loaded into a SharePoint location which is then reported on.

4. Smartbridge also implemented ETL/PowerShell based data refresh triggering to replace the time based scheduling. This removed some of the pain points that the data team was previously facing.

Success Through Customized Tableau and Power BI Solutions

The new Tableau content was very well received by the finance and car dealer teams. Though there was initial resistance to change from the business having to switch from Tableau to Power BI. However, with guided training and education of the features, the end-users are much more excited about this change. Users expressed extreme happiness with the content Smartbridge built with Power BI and are considering an upgrade to the content previously available in Tableau.

Months Later…

After the initial roll-out of Power BI, we continued building a more robust solution implementing the following pieces:

  • Power BI Premium

    The original Pro Workspaces were migrated to Premium, removing hundreds of licensing costs by paying a single capacity instead of single users.

  • Power Automate

    Multiple bots were programed to work with email rules to automate the loading of an external data into centralized SharePoint folders. The data is then automatically loaded into the data warehouse and readily used by Power BI Reports.

  • Standardized Models

    As the client has multiple analysts, all the metadata behind the models is standard with the purpose of making their usage easy for self-service reporting.

  • RLS Security

    Sales rep incentives are paid based on performance against targets. We built an interactive solution that is filters based on the active user, avoiding greed across coworkers.

  • REST API Refresh

    All Power BI datasets are now triggered once the ETL processes. This mechanism avoids loading incomplete data when the batch load fails.

  • Tableau Migration

    Reports built in-house were migrated into Power BI, deprecating all the reports from Tableau prior to their licensing renewal.

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