What Are Measures and Metrics in Power BI?


Measurement is the act of quantifying a particular aspect of something. It is usually associated with statistical, mathematical or scientific analysis.

Metrics and measures are essential building blocks of data analytics. They are the numbers that provide context and insight into performance.

Ideally, metrics should be validated through triangulation with other methods. For example, combining classic validated self-reported scales with new ways of measuring related concepts.

What is a Measure?

A measure is the basic unit of time in a musical staff. A piece of music is divided into measures, or bars, to make it easier to read and interpret. Each measure has a specific number of beats and certain types of notes in it. For example, if a piece of sheet music has a time signature of 2/4 then each measure will have two beats and the type of note will be a quarter note.

The concept of measure is also used in mathematical contexts. For instance, the Lebesgue measure on a s-algebra is a complete translation-invariant measure; a generalization of this is called a Haar measure for locally compact topological groups, and a further generalization is the projection-valued measure.

Measures are the building blocks of metrics and KPIs. Metrics contextualize these numbers by looking at trends and relationships over a longer period of time. They help determine what is working and where improvements need to be made.

What is a Metric?

A metric is a quantitative assessment used to evaluate, compare and track operations or production. They provide a broad overview of the performance of an operation and are usually accompanied by dimensions that help put the metrics into context, such as unit conversions.

Metrics are the key building blocks that create KPIs and other forms of data analysis. They can be broken down into categories, including operational, financial and qualitative.

Operational metrics help to transform customer critical quality requirements into a set of numbers that can be objectively measured. They can also highlight areas where improvements can be made.

KPIs are a subset of metrics that have been chosen for their relevance to business goals and overall evaluations. For example, a metric that monitors site traffic is a broader metric, but a key performance indicator that homes in on the number of content downloads is a more specific metric.

When Should I Use a Metric?

Measures are dynamic calculations that operate on aggregated data, meaning the subset of data they affect can change based on user interactions in Power BI reports. For example, you can use a slicer to filter rows and columns in a pivot table or filters to filter axes and data points in a chart. Because of this dynamic nature, measures tend to consume more memory and processing power than calculated columns.

To avoid these issues, you should only add a measure to your data model when necessary. In addition, you can organize your measures into measure groups to help keep the number of measures manageable and improve performance. For example, if you need to perform a COUNT(*) or COUNT(*) on fields that aren’t the table’s primary key, you should create a measure of type: count_distinct instead of using a COUNT(*) function in your query. This helps avoid generating excessive SQL, which can reduce model performance and storage capacity.

How Do I Choose the Right Measures and Metrics for My Business?

Choosing the right measures and metrics for your business requires diligently tracking operational performance and analyzing data. This ensures success within set timelines and helps you identify areas that are exceeding or falling short of expectations so you can take the necessary steps to optimize operations.

Metrics offer more context than simple numerical figures, so they can be used to track progress toward specific goals and help enhance decision-making processes. It’s also possible to use key metrics as a tool for predictive analysis, providing insights into future trends that can influence the direction of a strategy.

Both measures and metrics provide valuable insight into the health of a business. However, it’s important to understand the difference between them so that you can use them correctly and get the most out of these useful tools. The best way to determine the correct measurements for your company depends on the type of data you need to collect and analyze.